With each passing day, the 2G scam is revealing new skeletons in the cupboards of national level political parties, big corporate magnates, bureaucrats in the highest echelons of power, and the all-powerful cabinet itself, including the “so-far clean image” Prime Minister.
The intricate web of connections between all these members of the ruling elite in the country is mind boggling. From deciding who should be given ministerial portfolios to deciding on national policy matters that will cost the people lakhs of crores, it is clear even for the obstinate agnostic to realise that there is no democracy here. While elections are conducted every now and then, and the winners announced, everything is a façade. Money flows in suitcases from corporate boardrooms to political parties to decide which party should manage state affairs for the ruling class, which individual should be given ministerial berths, and what kind of policies should be initiated, so that big business houses – both Indian and foreign – continue to amass wealth at a sickening pace while the majority of people continue to fight a losing battle against poverty, illiteracy, malnutrition and unemployment. “Professional lobbyists” such as the suddenly infamous Neira Radia only facilitate this process. The best minds of the ruling elite are at work to explain to the people that these scams, however large and recurring, are mere aberrations; they happen supposedly because certain individuals or political parties have suddenly become too greedy, or because the anti-corruption vigilance system has suddenly developed holes or simply because of ghoulish vendetta on the part of some individuals or groups. The Parliament is not functioning because there is a difference of opinion between political parties over which mechanism will bring out the truth – is it the CAG, PAC, JPC, CBI, ED or some other acronym that will do the trick? There is no place here to go into the history of these mechanisms. To put it bluntly, none of these vigilance mechanisms have ever nailed the real culprit, have ever told the truth to the people, have ever come up with a solution to stem the growing rot. The mechanisms we have today to monitor public expenditure and government licenses serve the nexus between the business houses, their political parties, bureaucrats, executive and the judiciary. They are often used by those in power to whip their opponents. They are not accountable to the people. Their investigations are in camera and never identify the source of the problem. If we are to prevent scams in the future, it is time to think about alternative institutions of people’s power which are accountable to the people, and whose terms of reference are made by the people and not by those who are already a stakeholder in the corrupt system. These institutions should be given statutory powers to investigate anyone and punish the guilty irrespective of their position. Members of such institutions should be elected by the people and not nominated by the establishment. Definitely such a fundamental departure from existing practice requires a thorough overhaul of the existing political and electoral process, the transfer of power into the hands of the people, and the enactment of legislation to establish independent people’s institutions to monitor and audit the functioning of the state. Let us dare to think of a new system!