Thursday, 17 February 2011

Personal Integrity No Substitute for Corrupt State

An Open Letter To Manmohan Singh

Dear Mr. Singh,

I read with increasing trepidation the front page news that carried contents from your public televised interview yesterday. There are an increasing number of national wrongs that are justified on your behalf, since you remain unblemished by corruption, practiced by a run of the mill Indian politician. However, your latest effort to brush away the 2G scandal and the huge associated loss of revenue is unforgivable, weak, and dismal. To further attempt and equate this loss with the government subsidies to the needy class, is irrationally criminal and should shame you into immediate stepping down from you office.

Let me explain what are the duties that I expect from my head of State. First, you should be able to verify wrong doing and accept responsibility. It appears that in the latest scandal, that the 'wrong happened' is by now largely accepted and must have surely reached your ears! So, either you accept it, or you do not. But, what you may not do is to hide behind 'I know wrong happened, but if we do math differently, it is a lesser wrong' - for that is one of your arguments, right? Look, we do not need lessons in mathematical manipulations to right the wrongs. We actually need our elected officer to discharge his duties, accept the wrong, and if grace prevails, to say 'I take responsibility' because 'the buck really stops here!'

But this is not all - allow me, as a citizen of this nation to say further, that the most objectionable of all your explanations, was to bring in the loss(??)to the government in subsidies on 'food grains, LPG, fertilizers'. Let me remind you, Mr. Singh, that the government treasury is not your private bank account, but fed into by the resources of the same people that you claim to subsidize. There is definitely no equating loss from this 'national account' for massive corruption, to that used in expenditure for subsistence of our fellow countrymen.

Finally, I would like you to take a minute and take stock of the numbers that you are dealing (or not dealing)with. Remember you sold away the liability claims for India's civil nuclear program for tiny, tiny numbers compared to the kind of losses we are talking about now? Are you now saying that the corruptness on level of national food grain subsidies is 'tolerable' by the society? which society? and who decides? You?? Sorry Mr. Singh, this is not your 'wrong-decision' to make.

Please do not run around now, trying to find a wrong-doer - just stop the wrong; don't define your integrity by what you don't take, but by what you let others take; don't worry so much about 'how we look' - but please worry about 'how we really are'. Most of all, don't sell this nation short just to save your seat.


  1. You have hit the nail on the head with "the government treasury is not your private bank account, but fed into by the resources of the same people that you claim to subsidize".

    The biggest failing of the so-called WB approach to fiscal propriety is its peculiar removal of humans, of people, from the equation. This is the kind of thinking that leads inexorably on to equating the 'good of the greatest number' with 'collateral damage', and then, even on to 'encounters'.

    Not that it is the only road to perdition, but it is certainly the one most overlaid with false promises. I don't doubt that MMS has sincerity in his heart, but it seems to be encrusted over with a harsh take on economic independence, one that is scarcely differentiated from intellectual slavery. Economists need to be worth their salt, but this one leaves a bitter taste.

    Clearly something that got missed out in this staged 'press conference' (monologue?) was the move to number every citizen, on the specious grounds that this way, the government will be able to craft the delivery of subsidies more precisely to those who deserve it (ie, the ones who seem to be starving this morning, as against those who will only starve by the evening - that's the way the unconscionable 'below-poverty-line' triage process works).

    The fact that both these groups are an integral part of India's food independence, but are also excluded from India's economic independence (such that it is, considering that food for all, health for all, and a decent standard of living for all are not a part of it), is remarkable.

    Not, apparently, a remark loud enough to be heard around the world.


  2. Hmmmm...

    Hear hear. *taps table* Agree with you post.
    The case that he mounted in his own defence was weak and on expected lines.

    Some other observations:
    * The conference was ONLY open to heads of TV news channels. The print media was NOT represented. In other words we had the neo-liberal apologists asking him questions of largely "corporate interest".

    * Where were the questions on NREGA? Why focus only on scams related to 2G, 3G and other forms of spectrum? Why were issues of law and order not considered relevant for discussion in this rather rare sighting of our Prime Minister.

    * The statement on subsidies in particular is worrying and reflects the true intent of his vision. Subsidies, obviously are being viewed as a means to office. While in actual fact they should be at the heart of governance (read as poverty alleviation)

    * Somehow, the feeling I got was that that the PM was not the only person passing the buck. What about the studio jockeys/editors in the room who's blue chip advertisers are party to the corruption? Why can't they interrogate their clients in the same spirit? for e.g. Why can't Arnab ask Lavasa why the hell they are taking away common property resources? Could it be because his employers have a standing "private treaty" with Lavasa for paid news?