Posts Tagged ‘Political corruption

Why Indian Corruption Is a Global Security Concern

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India is in the throes of what some are calling a “second freedom struggle.” Across the country, citizens are on the streets, in the courts and on theinternet, fighting to break corruption’s chokehold on the nation. It is a critically important battle, not only for the future of India, but for global security — corruption in India enables some of the world’s most dangerous terrorist networks.

The reason is, illegal money needs illegal methods to move it around. And the amount of corruption-generated money flowing through India is vast. According to Interpol: “In South Asia, the ‘black’ or parallel economy is 30 percent-50 percent of the ‘white’ or documented economy.”

In terms of Indian political corruption, the 2011 2G-spectrum scandal alone is estimated to have lost Indian taxpayers close to $40 billion. And, as soon as the money needs to cross borders, say to get to a Swiss bank account where it can be washed clean, an Indian politician on the take goes from being a national security concern to a global security concern.

Hawala Networks

That is because a preferred method of transferring illegal money is called hawala. A very simplified version of how the hawala system works is shown below in a graphic from INTERPOL. Say Abdul in New York wants to transfer $5000 to his brother Mohammed in Pakistan. Abdul would go to a local New York hawala trader and give her $5000 cash. The New York trader would then call her colleague in Pakistan and instruct him to pay $5000 cash (in local currency) to Mohammad. And that’s it.



The Pakistan trader might get the money back from the New York trader through money transfers the other way, by doctoring invoices using participating import/export companies or other methods. In the meantime, Abdul sent the to money to Mohammad in hours and there is no official trace of the transaction.

From a criminal perspective the advantages of hawala are:

  • No paper trail.
  • No taxation.
  • No customs declarations.
  • Often preferential exchange rates.
  • Money laundering.
  • Due to the illegal nature of the process, the people transferring money (in this example Abdul and Mohammad) are now open to blackmail, giving the hawala traders and their associates leverage over their clients if needed.

For hawala to work, there has to be a high level of what Interpol calls ‘trust’ between the hawala traders. With hawala, that ‘trust’ is often guaranteed by brutal enforcement. If the money disappears en route, the hawala trader involved is likely to be ‘disappeared’ as a result, possibly along with his or her family.

The need for this high level of enforced ‘trust’ is why many hawala networks are controlled by terrorist and related criminal groups. The terrorists are not only willing to be brutal, but also require the quiet transfer of large amounts of untraceable cash. In a coordinated attack, in Mumbai on July 11, 2006, terrorist bombings on trains killed over 200 people. $10,000 that was used to carry out the attacks came from Saudi Arabia to India via halawa networks. The material recovered from Abbottabad shows Osama Bin Laden spent much of his time going through the “corporate” account books, tracking money generation (often through decidedly unspiritual means such as drug dealing) and cash flows.

Like a criminal Western Union, terrorism financiers use vast international hawala networks to move money around the world quickly and quietly. Due to their effectiveness, those same hawala channels also attract cash flows from other illegal sources, including arms traders, prostitution, narco-traffickers and human traffickers.

The problem is compounded when these same networks are used by those whose job it is to shut down criminal networks, such as (corrupt) politicians and law enforcement.

As all these money streams combine and flow through the same channels, each participant, from terrorist to politician, needs to protect the whole system in order to protect their own money flow.Very broadly, those common interests result in a division of labour.

The terrorists and associated criminal groups provide the system ‘hardware,’ such as physical money transfer, enforcement, etc.

Meanwhile the corrupt politicians and associated ‘legitimate’ groups such as (compromised) police, bureaucrats, media, etc., provide the system ‘software’ by keeping cases out of court, losing files, ensuring no coverage of embarrassing incidents, etc.

2011-08-19-HawalaMoneyFlowForHuffPo.jpgRecently J. Dey, one of Mumbai’s top investigative journalists was shot dead. On the list of suspects are politicians, terrorists, gangsters, industrialists and policemen. It pretty much sums up what has happened to India. As dirty money flows between politics, extremist groups, narco-traffickers, business, media houses, and police, it mixes together forming a torrent of intermingled corruption that is drowning the security of the nation, and pouring over the border, carrying terror and crime with it.

Hassan Ali Khan Case

Those dynamics have been on display in the case of Hassan Ali Khan. Khan is sitting in jail in India awaiting trial on charges of running a massive, high value hawala network for an astoundingly varied cast of top-level players, from narcotics dealers to industrialists to politicians. Even Saudi arms broker Adnan Khashoggi’s name has come up.

In the case of Hassan Ali Khan and his associates, the sums were too large to be moved around invisibly like Abdul’s $5000. As a result vast amounts, sometimes up to $8 billion, periodically popped up in tax haven bank accounts, creating a brazen paper and e-trail.

For example, according to investigators, when millions were transferred to a Khan-linked bank account for the purchase of a hotel in Switzerland, it came with an unusual note attached.

According to the letter rogatory from the Indian government to the government of Singapore on criminal case no. ECIR/MZO/02/2006-07 (the case involving Khan):

Deal for purchase of property i.e. Chateu Gutsch [sic] in Lucerne was finalized and during payment, USB [bank] informed that USD 300,000,000 the fund have arrived tagged with comment “Funds from Weapon Sales.

The note shows just how sure Khan and others involved were that they were protected from prosecution. And, until now, people like Khan had good reason to feel safe.

Among Khan’s known associates were three Indian Chief Ministers and a top member of the ruling Congress Party. To protect themselves, they have to protect him, and the system he represents. And so, the case against Khan languished. Interrogations were cursory, files were sloppy, deadlines were missed.

But then, in an echo of what is happening all over India, someone said “enough is enough.” In the case of Khan, it was the Supreme Court of India. In a remarkable order issued on July 4, 2011, the court explained why vast flows of illegal money are a national security concern:

the issue of unaccounted monies held by nationals, and other legal entities, in foreign banks, is of primordial importance to the welfare of the citizens. The quantum of such monies may be rough indicators of the weakness of the State, in terms of both crime prevention, and also of tax collection. Depending on the volume of such monies, and the number of incidents through which such monies are generated and secreted away, it may very well reveal the degree of ‘softness of the State.’ […] If the State is soft to a large extent, especially in terms of the unholy nexus between the law makers, the law keepers, and the law breakers, the moral authority, and also the moral incentives, to exercise suitable control over the economy and the society would vanish. Large unaccounted monies are generally an indication of that.

The court instructed: “Follow the money.” It ordered that the Khan case be taken out of the hands of existing (failing) investigative units, and be given to a special investigate team composed of top officials comprising, among others, two former Supreme Court Justices and the Director of the Research and Analysis Wing.

If properly investigated, the case has the potential not only to bring down governments, but it could also be a huge blow to global terror, drugs, child prostitution, and human trafficking networks.

Anti-Corruption Campaigns

Needless to say, those networks are fighting back. At midnight on June 5th, tens of thousands of fasting, sleeping anti-corruption demonstrators were stormed by the police and cleared from their demonstration site in central Delhi. Reportedly orders for the action came from the very top. But the anti-corruption elements of the system are standing firm. The Supreme Court has ordered the Government to explain its actions on the night of June 5th. Point, counter-point.

Similarly, this week, anti-corruption demonstrator Anna Hazare and hundreds of his supporters were arrested. Subsequently, tens of thousands took to the street to protest the arrests. India is not new to demonstrations, but this fight back mood is different. It will not go away. And it’s spreading. Sympathy protests have taken place in the U.S.Singapore and Hong Kong. And there are more to come.

It is fitting that the protests are going global. Political corruption in India, facilitated by hawala networks, has not only undermined India, it has compromised global security. For years some, like journalist and strategist M.D. Nalapat, have been warning about the deepening and spreading security vulnerabilities resulting from Indian corruption. Now, the Cassandras are being proved right.

Luckily for those around the world concerned about terror, drugs, human trafficking and other multinational criminal organization, the Indian people, from the streets to the courts, are working hard to make India, and by extension the world, a more secure place. This fight concerns us all.



Anna Hazare rides wrath yatra, ups ante on Jan Lokpal Bill

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Emboldened by the swelling crowds at Ramlila Maidan, Gandhian anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare upped the ante within hours of emerging from Tihar Jail on Friday. He set a three-week deadline for Parliament to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill, pending which he wouldn’t budge from the ground. This was not only contrary to his group’s commitment to vacate the protest site by August 31, but was also seen to be brushing aside parliamentary processes as no such deadline is set for standing committees to study draft legislations in detail.

The ultimatum marks a hardening of stand which could queer the pitch for negotiations and a settlement to the dramatic face-off. While Team Anna has insisted on the Lokpal Bill being passed in the monsoon session ending September 8, it had refrained from setting a deadline for the passage of their version of the bill, maintaining that they respected Parliament and would abide by its decision.

Anna also gave a call for a jail-bharo campaign if the deadline was not met. Although his associate Prashant Bhushan said they were open to negotiations with the government, the ultimatum narrows the scope of a settlement. Taken by surprise by the groundswell of support for Anna, government leaders seemed inclined to wait out Anna’s protest, reckoning that it would be difficult for his team to sustain this level of popular support.

Addressing the media at Ramlila Maidan, the 74-year-old Anna said: “I have made the decision of my life. It is up to the government to pass the (Jan Lokpal) bill. If it is not passed in this session, I will continue my fast till my last breath.” The pledge drew huge applause from his growing band of supporters. His aide Arvind Kejriwal brazenly declared the group’s lack of faith in parliamentary democracy. “Parliament is not supreme, the public is,” he said. “It’s our right to raise our voice against corruption and the elected representatives must hear it.”

Asked if the three-week deadline was not impractical, Anna shot back that it was the government’s headache. “They have the majority in Parliament and it is up to them to see how they get the bill passed,” he said.

There is, however, a view that two private member’s bills – introduced by BJP’s Varun Feroze Gandhi in Lok Sabha and independent member Rajiv Chandrashekhar in Rajya Sabha — can offer a way out.

Varun plans to move the Jan Lokpal Bill as his bill, while Chandrashekhar’s bill has incorporated features of civil society’s version of the legislation.

Since the grouse of the civil society is that Parliament won’t get to debate the merits of their bill, the two private members’ bills can give the two Houses an opportunity to assess the merits of the two rival pieces of legislation, potentially clearing the way for a resolution.

However, procedures and conventions may come in the way. A private member’s bill can be introduced in the House only after a month’s notice. While Varun Gandhi hasn’t yet formally sought the Speaker’s permission to move the bill, Chandrashekhar submitted his bill in the first week of August. So, neither has a month’s time to be taken up for adoption in this session. Still, extraordinary situations often lead to “creative” solutions. Perhaps, with the House’s permission, the process may be fast-tracked.

Prashant Bhushan told the media: “We are not afraid of discussions. If somebody from the government wants to discuss, we have no problems. But we are not ready to compromise on corruption.”

Kejriwal added that nobody from the government has approached them so far for discussions.

Beware of the Government Lokpal Bill

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I reviewed the Government’s Lokpal bill in great detail. I am deeply concerned and not to mention alarmed with what I learned from it. Government has completely ignored the wishes of the common man and made a mockery of our hard fought struggle for strong anti-corruption laws. I have summarized the most troubling aspects of the government version here and suggested possible steps that everyone of you can take to help in this movement.

We had been demanding that an institution called Lokpal should be set up for central government and a Lokayukta should be set up for each state government through the same Bill. Lokpal would receive and investigate corruption complaints against central government employees and politicians. Lokayukta would do that job in respective states. However, the Cabinet has rejected our demand. Only a few senior-most officers in central government have been brought within the jurisdiction of Lokpal. All officials and politicians in state governments have been left out.

What does that mean?

  • It means that rampant corruption in Panchayat works would continue as it is. Through the use of RTI Act, many people across the country have revealed how payments are routinely made for ghost works. Check dams exist only on paper. List of beneficiaries of various government schemes contain bogus names. Wages of poorest people are denied and siphoned off under NREGA. Social audits in several states have exposed corruption running into thousands of crores in NREGA. Medicines are routinely diverted to black market from government hospitals. Teachers do not turn up in government schools. They pay a part of their salaries to Basic Shiksha Adhikari to mark their attendance. 80% of Rs 30,000 crores of ration subsidy is siphoned off. People living below poverty line are turned away by ration shopkeepers because their rations are diverted to black market. Much of this money reaches the party coffers or the senior-most politicians. All this will continue even after the enactment of government’s Lokpal Bill because all of this is outside its jurisdiction.
  • In cities, roads would continue to break after a few months of being constructed. Flyovers would continue to collapse. Streetlights will still not light up. Parks would continue to remain dilapidated. The builders would continue to fleece ordinary consumers. You would still need to pay bribes to get your passport or income tax refund. Building plan will not be passed without a bribe. Government’s Lokpal Bill does not cover any of this.
  • Adarsh Housing scam is not covered under Government’s Lokpal. Reddy brothers will continue to loot our mines and minerals. Commonwealth Games, Fodder scam, Taj Corridor Scam, Yamuna Expressway scam, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha scam, Cash for vote scam – none of these scams are covered under Government’s Lokpal Bill.
  • Members of Parliament and MLAs would continue to take bribes to ask questions or vote in Parliament and legislative assemblies because Lokpal would not have the powers to investigate them.
  • Prime Minister, Chief Ministers, MPs, MLAs, municipal councilors, sarpanches, judges, all state government employees, all Group B, Group C and group D employees of the central government – all are out of the jurisdiction of Government’s Lokpal Bill.
  • Interestingly, if any citizen makes a complaint of corruption against any official to Lokpal and if it lacks adequate evidence, then as per government’s bill, the citizen would face two years of minimum imprisonment. And the government would provide a free advocate to the corrupt official to file a case against the citizen. But if the citizen is able to prove that the official has indeed indulged in corruption, there is just six months of minimum imprisonment. Therefore, rather than the corrupt and corruption, the government bill is targeted against those who dare raise their voice against corruption. In short, it discourages people from reporting acts of corruption!
  • 13 people, who had dared to raise their voice against corruption, were murdered in the last one year. We had demanded that Lokpal should have the powers and duty to provide protection to such people. Government Bill does not have any such provision.
  • Government has retained its control over CBI. So, CBI would continue to avoid taking action against a future Raja until Supreme Court admonished them. Accounts of Quattrochis would continue to be defrozen in secrecy against national interests. CBI would continue to be used to arm twist Mayawatis, Laloo Yadavs, Jayalalithas and Mulayam Singhs into submission. Corruption money would continue to be siphoned off to Swiss accounts.
  • Government’s Lokpal Bill is also unconstitutional. Prime Minister does not enjoy any immunity from investigations under the constitution. Exclusion of Prime Minister from Lokpal Bill is unconstitutional.
  • Selection and removal of Lokpal members will be completely in the control of the government. Out of 9 member selection committee, five will be from ruling establishment, thus effectively giving powers in the hands of the government to appoint the most corrupt, pliable and politically loyal people as Lokpal members.
  • High Courts and Supreme Court would continue to take more than 20 years to dispose appeals in corruption cases because our plea to set up special benches to hear such appeals has also been turned down.

Government says that there are 1.25 crore government employees in the country. Government refuses to bring them under Lokpal Bill because it would need large number of anti-corruption staff to keep a check on them. Isn’t that an absurd excuse? India is a huge country. Obviously, it has large number of employees. Can the government leave them unchecked and allow them to loot the people and the country? Under law, corruption is a crime – as heinous as murder or rape. If tomorrow, the incidence of murders or rapes increases as much as we have corruption now, would the government turn around and say that this country has 120 crore population and since they would need large number of policemen to check crime, they would not do it?

The country seems to be in the clutches of highly corrupt people. It has been reported that in the Cabinet Meeting, the Prime Minister, including some of his other Cabinet colleagues, kept pleading that PMbe included within the Lokpal Bill. However, the corrupt within the Cabinet had the last say. The Prime Minister was rendered helpless, though one wonders the reasons for his helplessness.What are our options?  Some people feel that Anna is unreasonable. They say that an indefinite fast is a brahmastra and should be used as a last resort. Haven’t we already reached the end of the road?Friends, I must confess, that the road ahead is extremely challenging. Government is on a path to try and crush the movement at any cost. We need the active participation of every single Indian in order to fight back. If the Government’s bill becomes law we are literally gifting our country to the corrupt people to further plunder our resources.
Like I have said before its now or never.Let every citizen in this country take one week’s off from his normal work from 16th August, the day Anna starts his indefinite fast, and take to the streets – in front of his house or at the crossings or in parks – with a tricolor in his hands shouting slogans against corruption. Let students take off from their schools and colleges. Let everyone take to streets. If this happens, we will achieve our goal within a week. Government can crush one Anna but it cannot crush 120 crore Annas. Government can impose section 144 on one jantar mantar. But it cannot impose a curfew on the whole country.Can we count on you support to participate in one final attempt to save our country from the corrupt?
Arvind Kejriwal
India Against Corruption (IAC)
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Signing Common Platform Petition to PM at :<<LINK>>


The dangers of redefining democracy

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Arun Kumar in THE HINDU

If bribe-giving is legalised, some have suggested, the vexed problem of corruption facing the government would be less severe. Some powerful voices from within and outside the government have even argued for this. The argument is in line with the theoretical case that corruption and smuggling improve economic efficiency. Such redefining of words is not an isolated activity today.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh indulged in it at a recent meeting with newspaper editors. On the Lokpal bill, he said he personally favoured the Prime Minister coming under its purview but added that his Cabinet colleagues were against it — prevarication at its best.

Dr. Singh has acted decisively on issues close to his heart like the India-U.S. civil nuclear deal, which he pushed through in spite of the threat to his government and disquiet among many. Clearly, for him, the Prime Minister coming within the Lokpal’s purview is not of much importance. It is consistent with his view that corruption is not as endemic as is being made out by the media and the Opposition, and that it is largely their creation. He also pleaded for moderating the campaign against corruption on the plea that it is spoiling our international image.

His argument that decision-makers act ex-ante, in uncertainty and without full information, must be music to the ears of wrong-doers. He clarified that in hindsight, one can be wiser about the mistakes committed. The sub-text is that inappropriate decisions are not deliberate, but genuine errors of judgment — an alibi for corrupt elements.

As a general proposition, the argument can hardly be faulted. But is it also true in specific cases? In the 2G spectrum allocation case, the CBI, under the Supreme Court’s directions, has unearthed blatant wrongdoing. Giving a very short notice to file bids and, that too, a few hours, for instance. Without advance knowledge, a bid could not have been filed. Why did some of the licences go to those who had no experience in the field? None of this had anything to do with uncertainty.

Dr. Singh also argued that he could not be expected to look into details pertaining to each Ministry and that he was not an expert on all matters. But he has a string of agencies and experts at his beck and call. Why was their advice not sought? Especially, when the wrongdoings pertaining to the 2G case were immediately pointed to in 2008? The implication is that the system failed. Is someone accountable for the failure? In the Commonwealth Games scam, there was blatant loot in contracts and purchase of exercise machines and toilet paper rolls. None of this had anything to do with uncertainty or ex-ante nature of decisions or lack of expertise. Has the Prime Minister shifted ground — from his ‘coalition compulsions’ argument to giving technical explanations for his silence and inaction?

If Dr. Singh’s line of argument is to be accepted, from now on, no one need take responsibility or be accountable as mistakes can be said to be unintended or due to a lack of expertise. Further, one ought not refer to widespread wrongdoing lest it spoil the international image. The Prime Minister, a clever academic, has distorted the meaning of words such as “accountability” and “corruption.”

Changing the meaning of words like “accountability” will damage the system. Rule of law, social justice, good governance and building a civilised society depend on it. Similarly, when terms like “democracy,” “people’s representation” and “justice” lose much of their content, democratic institutions decline. Thus the nation needs an institution like Lokpal to bring about accountability.

The government has decided to aggressively stall a stricter Lokpal bill. To be fair, arguments for leaving the Prime Minister and the higher judiciary out of the Lokpal’s purview have been advanced by other respected persons too. Their argument is that the inclusion of the Prime Minster and the judiciary will undermine their independent functioning and prevent them from taking tough decisions for fear of being incorrect and inviting challenges. Logically, then, they should not come under scrutiny even after they demit office because even that could deter them from taking decisions. In other words, no accountability should be demanded of the Prime Minister.

Further, it is argued that in a democracy, the Prime Minister is accountable to Parliament. So, any wrongdoing by him would automatically be checked by the Opposition (enforcing accountability). It is also stated that the Lokpal, an agency external to the parliamentary system, will undermine Parliament. It is also feared that frivolous charges could be brought against the Prime Minister, given the nature of fractious politics. Every time a charge is levelled, there would be a demand for the Prime Minister’s resignation and she/he would be immobilised.

All this begs the question: why is there a strong demand for bringing the Prime Minister within the Lokpal’s purview? Why has Parliament failed to make the Prime Minister accountable? In the last 40 years, many Prime Ministers have been suspected of wrongdoing. Same is the case with many Chief Ministers, Ministers, Chief Justices and the higher judiciary. The existing institutional structure has patently failed to make these high functionaries accountable.

Further, due to corruption, justice is either miscarried or delayed (barring a few high-profile cases). There is a widespread feeling of lack of social justice. The political leadership and the top judiciary are seen to have failed the people in spite of the checks and balances a democracy is supposed to provide. Their credibility has been eroded, leading to the demand that they be made accountable in newer ways — outside the present democratic framework.

In brief, ‘democracy’ is being given as the reason for not bringing the nation’s highest functionaries within the Lokpal’s ambit. The counter-argument is: because ‘democracy’ has been twisted out of shape, there is a need for newer ways to re-energise it by, say, an independent Lokpal. Of course, it goes without saying that even the Lokpal may eventually get subverted since there can neither be a magic wand nor a perfect law to deal with social problems.

It is also argued that NGOs and civil society groups are not people’s representatives — at best, they represent small groups. The legislators, on the other hand, are people’s representatives. This view also emerged in the all-party meeting on the Lokpal bill. While formally this is true, the reality is that ‘representation’ has lost much of its meaning. Does anyone represent people’s interests today? Members of civil society groups and NGOs who have stood for elections have mostly lost. So the politicians are right in saying they represent only small groups. But this is not the whole truth.

The way the government initially caved in to the demands of civil society groups suggests that it panicked because these groups captured the popular sentiment of that section — the middle class — which has provided the government its legitimacy. The media, by playing up the issue, aggravated matters.

The government’s flip-flop on the issue in the last few months ought to clarify whose interest it serves — citizens, the elite or vested interests. While workers’ movements (big and small) have been routinely ignored by the government or dealt with a heavy hand, it responded to the middle class protests. With a scam a week surfacing in the last few years, the illusion of the middle class that the government represents its interests stood shattered, which is why the government initially reacted the way it did. As soon as it devised ways of confusing the middle class, it backtracked.

Revelations in the phone hacking investigations in the U.K. have brought out the nexus among the power elite and the erosion of accountability in the mother of democracy. In India, we are way ahead and have creatively redefined national interest, representation, democracy and corruption to the benefit of the vested interests.

Two faces of Lokpal, Lokayukta Mother India

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santosh hegde, former lokayukta of karnataka, ...

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Editorial in the Shanghai Express

A toast is well deserved. Retired Judge of the Supreme Court of India, Justice Santosh Hegde is certainly the man of the hour, courtesy the effective enforcement of the clau- ses contained in the Lokayukta in Karnataka.

However before the toast is raised, before the congratulatory notes start pouring in, it would be worthwhile to take certain things into consideration, study them and digest them. Largest democracy in the world.

Island of democracy in a sea of Nations where democracy has more often failed than succeeded, one of the few developing Nations (when this term was politically acceptable in 1947) where the rule of the ballot has never been disrupted by spells of military rule and the largest democracy in the world.

These are some of the epithets that sit pretty comfortably in the crown of Mother India and to top these is the reputation earned in the last decade or so as one of the fastest emerging economic powers in the world. So as Karnataka Chief Minister Yeddyurappa faces the heat in the face of the damning indictment issued by the Lokayukta of the State headed by Justice Santosh Hegde, this should be the ideal time to ponder over some uncomfortable questions.

As a Parliamentary democracy, India rightfully believes that the ballot or the EVMs are the final arbiter of the performance of a Government or more specifically a political party. This means that every five years a sort of a referendum on the performance, governance, character etc of a Government or a political party and at the micro level a politician is held and the verdict of the people is supposed to reflect the points we have just mentioned.

This has been the case ever since India attained independence more than 60 years back yet the five yearly elections have never been able to address certain questions and to this day this failure is reflected in the atrocious positions of women in society, the fate of the girl child, the caste structure which has mutated to caste based politics and probably the most niggling of them all- institutionalisation of corruption.

This is the reason why the word of caution against raising the toast was issued in the first place. In many ways the growing need of Bills or Acts like Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayukta at the States is a damning testimony that the mechanisms of power available to the people through the universal adult franchise have been manipulated and distorted by the political class to such an extent that today this democratic exercise has failed to check corrupt practices such as money laundering, bribery, financial misappropriation, stashing black money in foreign countries etc.

In as much as the average man on the street may feel a sense of vindication in the damning indictment of Yeddyruppa, the overwhelming sense of a loss or indignity forced on the Nation cannot be brushed aside. Should the indictment be a time for celebration or should it be a time to reel in a sense of shame that a person who was elected to the position of the leader of the people should be found dipping his dirty hands in the pie ?

The need for raising this very question is necessitated by the uncomfortable fact that Yeddyruppa is but just a small fish netted from the cesspool of corruption which is patronised by the political class and ably aided by a system which is personified by the Babudom. An understanding of this ugly reality is therefore necessary to understand why the Congress led UPA Government is dragging its feet and demonstrating that it is not at all interested in passing a Lokpal Bill which has teeth and muscle.

The adamant stand of the Government is necessitated by the benefits that the politicians stand to gain as long as the status quo is maintained and this is the very reason why Ana Hazare has been able to capture the imagination of quite a large number of people and why a Baba Ramdev nearly succeeded in stealing the thunder from the issue at hand.

In the beginning when innocence was still a virtue there was nothing wrong in bringing the Anti-Corruption branch and the Central Bureau of Investigation under the Government and this means that these two agencies cannot work at their own initiative.

The Lokpal at the Centre and the Lokayukta at the States look to undo this and this means that once these two agencies become independent entities they can initiate action against the top rung officers or any politician without much interference. This is not all.

The Central Vigilance Commission, which is the authorised body at the Centre to recommend the dismissal of a corrupt officer, has been reduced to the status of an advisory body, but Lokpal and Lokayukta will have the authority and the independence to dismiss the corrupt.

Judges can be tried and prosecuted by the Lokpal and the Lokayukta and politicians will have no say in the selection and appointment of chairpersons and members of these two bodies. It is easy to see why the UPA Government has developed cold feet in going full steam ahead with the Lokpal Bill at the Centre and this is totally in line with the political culture that is associated with a Yeddyruppa.

The question is whether it is the system which has given birth to the Yeddyruppas or whether it is the Yeddyruppas who have scripted the system. Karnataka has shown that its Lokayukta is alive and kicking and the natural question that follows is, what about here, in this kingdom of Mr Okram Ibobi ?