Friday, June 10, 2011

Saffron Attack On India's Corruption

With the Indian government facing political challenge for mid-term polls, the people are increasingly rallying with the anti-corruption movement which is gradually taking a saffron colour.    India is currently rattled by widespread corruption. The people of India view with suspicion and apprehension the entire political class, which they want to recover the Indian money stashed away abroad through corruption. In fact the political class is the suspect today in the eyes of common people of India.         Illicit assets    The Washington-based Global financial Integrity - a non-profit research organization - working in the area of Tax Havens, has estimated for India that the present value of illegal financial flows held abroad is $500 billions. This means that almost three- quarters of the illicit assets comprising India's underground economy-which has been estimated to account for 50 per cent of India's GDP (approximately $640 billion at the end of 2008)- ends up outside of the country.    In January-2011 the Supreme Court of India called the shameful phenomenon of Indian funds kept illegally abroad as "theft" and " plunder" and not treat it as merely tax avoidance. It also demanded an "action taken" report on all " faceless" Indians who had moved their ill-gotten money overseas.    According to a recent survey conducted by consulting firm, KPMG, some industries tend to have relatively higher instances of bribery and corruption than others, primarily due to the link they have with multiple parties-both in the government as well as private realm.         Reluctance    The leaders of the Congress which leads the UPA earlier denied the existence of such huge amount of illicit Indian wealth abroad; then they reluctantly accepted that fact which was becoming undeniable.    The well-known and well- publicized instances of the existence of illegal Indian monies abroad - like the Hasan Ali case, Quattrocchi issue, the Lichtenstein Bank disclosures and the alleged secret Swiss bank accounts in the name of the family of the Congress President and the Chairperson of the UPA and National Advisory Council of the UPA government have not only not been pursued, the government of the day is shamefully burying them to the view of the entire nation. In the period 2010-2011 , India witnessed various scandals being blown apart by the media, whistle-blowers, civil society activists and government investigation agencies alike. Scams like 2 G spectrum scam, Adarsh Housing Society Scam, Commonwealth Games scam and many more brought about names of various cabinet ministers, chief ministers and even members of the Armed Forces.    This showed how deeply entrenched corruption has become in India. It has led to a more expansive civil society movement that wishes to fight graft with the strictest of laws and penalties.    In March 2011 , India Against Corruption (IAC), a people's movement launched a campaign demanding comprehensive reforms of anti-corruption systems in India. It sent an open letter to PM Manmohan Singh and Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda for a CBI probe as recommended by central government committee into " irregularities in the forest department", and into the harassment of IFS officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi.    In April 2011 , Anna Hazare, a Gandian veteran gave a call to the nation to press the government for the enactment of Jana LokPal bill.    The protests led to the creation of an unprecedented movement that saw protests being organised in various cities and towns of India. Protests included fasts, candlelight vigils and rallies.    Several political parties have come to support the movement for Jan Lokpal Bill. Political leaders from different parties - Sudhakar Reddy, A B Bardhan, Abani Roy ( left front), H D Devegowda (JDS) Mysora Reddy (TDP) and Jayant Chowdhry (RLD) signed a joint statement indicating their support to the movement.         A saffronite move    The BJP and RSS have taken the move supported by non-Congress opposition parties, thus making it a political move, which Government wanted to make to mild the intensity of a serious issue like corruption widely prevalent in Indian system of governance, judiciary and executive.    Soon the Indian Yoga Guru Ramdev joined the move against corruption. Delhi police last week evicted Ramdev and his supporters from New Delhi Ramlila ground where they began a "satyagraha" against corruption.    According to Ramdev, Indian legal and educational systems, were imposed on by the British. So he wants to take out English subject form all schools in India. On Sunday, Ramdev was bundled out of Delhi and airlifted to BJP ruled Uttarakhand capital Dehradun from where he reached to his headquarter in Haridwar.    Ramdev accused the police of indulging in "brutalities" against his peaceful followers, especially women and children, and called it a "big blot" on the government.    Angry at the disruption of his hunger strike, Baba Ramdev lashed out at the government and targeted Sonia Gandhi over the " police barbarism" on his supporters while threatening a nationwide agitation.    Meanwhile, taking suo motu cognisance of forceful eviction of yoga guru Baba Ramdev and his followers from the Ramlila grounds, the Supreme Court on Monday sought the Centre's response to the incident.    A vacation bench of justices B S Chauhan and Swatenter Kumar issued notices to the Union home secretary, chief secretary of Delhi, Delhi administration, and Delhi police commissioner asking them to respond within two weeks. The court posted the matter for hearing in the second week of July.    With the government decision drawing flak, Congress leadership met at the Prime Minister's residence which was attended by Sonia Gandhi and senior cabinet ministers.    Manmohan Singh government's high-risk move in evicting Baba Ramdev from Delhi has brought together rival factions of civil society, besides exposing the Centre and Congress leadership to sharp attacks from political opponents.    The Hazare group also endorsed Ramdev's demand for an ordinance to declare Indian funds illegally stashed abroad as national asset and to provide for means to bring the money back. Even Aruna Roy, member of the Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council who had publicly expressed reservations about civil society's anti-corruption agitation, joined the chorus of condemnation.    On Monday, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh's residence in Bhupal was pelted with stones by some unidentified people who also shouted slogans in favour of yoga guru Baba Ramdev.    The incident is being seen as the outcome of Digvijay Singh's remarks against Ramdev whom he had termed a "thug" on Sunday morning after Delhi police's crackdown on the at Ramlila ground in New Delhi. Digvijay Singh has twice been Madhya Pradesh chief minister, Pradesh Congress leader J.P. Dhanopia claimed the people who pelted stones were affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh ( RSS), Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and allied groups.    Supporting government actions against Ramdev, the Congress leaders say that the whole 'Anshan' was politically motivated and he is the unofficial face of BJP & RSS trying to malign the Congress-led UPA government.