Yes, says Barack Obama!
Corporate power corrodes Indian democracy?
Yes, notice the recent events!
Yes, we seem to be living at a time of great many ironies and contradictions, to say the least. The Headlines Today TV news channel broke the long withheld secret tapes of the Union Cabinet Minister A. Raja’s secret tapes with a private lobbyist whose clients include Ratan Tata and Mukesh Ambani! The tapes were recorded with the previous permission of the Union Home Secretary and thus very official and legitimate.
It was about the Cabinet formation of the UPA-II government in 2009 and the tapes make it public that the Union Minister for Telecom was sel3ected to the post for the second time not by the proper selectors, namely, the Prime Minister(it is the prerogative of the Prime Minister to select his team)and in this case as the country knows nor even the Congress President, Sonia Gandhi seemed to have had not much choice, not even by the pressure(as it was known then)brought about by the DMK(there was tussle within the party by the family members of the CM) but, hold your breath, by the corporate interests!
The lobbyist, now the famous or infamous name is Nira Nadira who says the minister (A.Raja) that “your name is cleared last night itself (she says this the next day at 11 A.M.!The minister asks her:”My case is cleared, na?”.M.J.Akbar, the senior editor of international reputation has written a newspaper column and had made much play of the very expression,” na?” and says that expression on the tapes shows the very much warmth and intimacy and much else that prevailed in the then political atmosphere and the ,by implication, the very core of the corruption in our polity! Yes, that is the supreme irony!
Now, the gathering storms in New Delhi all measure up to a new height of corruption at the very top of the corridors of power.
How clean are our leaders? How clean is the politics they preside over?
The very playing up of the A.Raja tapes on the Headlines Today and the comments that followed on the very news channel indicate that there is a crisis brewing in the polity.
First, there is enough evidence from the tapes that the biggest corporate houses, namely Tatas and Reliance have got away whatever they wanted from the government. So, we can find out from the role of the Vaishnavi Communications CEO’s revelations.
Also, we find that the major ally of the UPA-II, the DMK got away with the loot as evident from the G2 spectrum scandal.
Third we find that the Income Tax Dept and the CBI registered FIRs and so the Prime Minister had kept the FIRs in cold storage, knowing well he is protecting the highly corrupt ministers for just extending his own tenure.
So, what hope the people can have in this government for getting justice and realising their hopes under the system of democracy practised by this ruling combine.
Now, at the other end of the world, namely, in the USA, President Barack Obama has been engaged in a wrenching battle to what one writer calls to “save the soul of American democracy”.
Why this description?
Obama it seems is engaged at the heart of the conflict” a deep and growing rift between the US political executive and judiciary over transparency around how powerful lobbies wield tremendous influence in Washington.
The US judiciary this January voted five-to-four that political spending by corporations in candidate elections should be permitted free of government restrictions!
So, Obama battles for reversing this judgment and in a state of the Union speech, listened to by the US Supreme Court judges, Obama thundered.
This judgment “would corrupt democracy”.
That is the message.
How relevant this Obama line for Indian democracy?
It is no secret that in the US hundreds of private lobby groups operate. They influence government policies. Obama has initiated reforms to curb the power of the lobbies and make democratic politics more transparent.
In India, we seem to be doing the reverse!
The lobbyists are now in the open and the Raja tapes are the latest to bring out the real corrupt at the top.
When a leader is said to be corrupt, he or she needn’t take cash bribes.
They can help simply by turning the other way.
They can just accept the offer of a private jet from the corporates! As this has happened more than once!
The PM can also look the other way. This is what is happening now.
So, how long you can retain or seek the allies, from their corrupting political activities, amazing wealth in the most blatant manners, for their sons and daughters, and also in the case of the DMK retaining tainted hands, criminals often for the sake of power?
Now comes the Narayanamurthy report on “Good Corporate Governance and Ethics”.
This comes at a time when we are reading the most powerful corporates are engaged in life and death battles!
Now, Murthy’s recommendations on the face of it look welcome acts. But looked at a bit more closely and critically, they amount to not much!
This is India and Indian corporates do things in the way only! If the leaders are helped with election funds, often unaccountably, that is okey. It is an election time practice.
Otherwise, how you can have so many money bags of not great reputations, how you nominate so many with criminal records not only to the Lok Sabha but to the Rajya Sabha?
You under the UPA I and II, havent brought about any electoral reforms, you don’t even take the Lok Sabha seriously. All the controversial bills are pushed through. The point is that Mr.Murthy is talking too much and expect things to be better even without political governance improving?
It looks like that.6000 companies,listed,90 percent managed by families,3% of people only investing in shares and even the IT-BPO companies, even with the exception of Satyam, are yet to go some way.
Already, we see human failings even in the Infosys. Murthy gives a Nobel Prize like award, for a historian, in this case the lady is the very daughter of the incumbent Prime Minister! The historian is not even rated as the top rank, even among the historians fraternity.
But everyone is keeping mum! So, what transparency we are talking about?
Unless we ensure highest standards in governance in politics, we introduce Lok Pal, Lok Ayukta and much else, electoral reforms etc, and there is no point to talk of ensuring corporate governance.
Why big names crop up whenever there is a scandal?
One should not throw stones from within a glass house!
Yes, it is not helping anyone by taking such a skeptical stand. But then one has to talk the truth, not talk smart!
If we can’t save the world, at least let us start talking like Obama to save the soul of Indian democracy!