Monday, October 18, 2010

The season of scams..

Well, the title above seems a misnomer, since in a country like ours, there isn't really a season for scams. They seem to be happening left, right and center and throughout the year. But even by those lofty standards, these are heady days indeed.
The CWG mess, of course, is garnering all the headlines and it is really gratifying to see that no sooner had the Games ended than the media knives were back out. This time though, the GOI obliged and promptly set up a committee under the CVC (Chief Vigilance Commissioner). But again, in a country like ours, probe committees are dime a dozen, and how quickly it completes its probe is the question on everyone's lips, followed by, of course, action against the culprits. But as Mr. Kalmadi and Ms. Sheila Dikshit trade allegations, there is hope for the common man that finally, there might be some action at the end of the tunnel, given how vigorously the media has been pursuing this.

But while the government has shown unusual alacrity as far as the CWG fiasco is concerned, it will surely find itself in more than an embarrassing position as regards the other huge scam of the day, the 2G spectrum scam. The Mint cover story today bought out the grim details of the scam as exposed by the CAG probe. In terms of sheer numbers, this is almost unparalleled. What, of course, catches the eye is the loss to the national exchequer: a mind-boggling, eye-popping, gut-wrenching etc etc Rs 1.4 trillion !!! It took me a few seconds just to convert this into something comprehensible: Rs 140,000 crore !!!. To put this in perspective, the entire 3G auctions recently bought the government only Rs 68,000 crores. Or, to drive home the point like a bulldozer, the budget estimates in FY11 for personal income-tax collections are approx. Rs 120,000cr. Which means, that the loss to the exchequer is more than what the individual tax-payers of this entire country pay in a year !!!. And all of this just because Mr. A Raja and the DoT followed arbitary procedures while allocating 2G spectrum (of which what took the cake was this: a press release on the DoT website at 2.45pm asking prospective bidders to submit their demand drafts by 3.30 pm !!!). And while the CWG attracted the media attention because of the international prestige at stake, this is far superior (?) in magnitude. And, as a last thought, are not these things taken through the Prime Minister atleast ?? Beats me that the PM was not aware about such an arbitrary way of allocating spectrum so crucial to the government coffers.

As these two incidents make us hang us head in shame, one hopes that the culprits are bought to book without any mercy !!

~ Amit