The Real India Story

By Latha Jishnu
Last Updated: Sunday 07 June 2015

imageIndia’s interests are far more important than what businessmen and their champions think it is

If politics is the last refuge of the scoundrel, national interest is the best excuse of the tainted. The most amazing fallout of the Niira Radia tapes is the desperate need that businessmen suddenly feel for all of us Indians to march to the drumbeat of national pride and brush aside the biggest scandal to hit the country after Independence. Forget the muck, they say; the muck should not have been raked up at all in the first place. All that it does is to sully India’s image. Never mind that every institution of governance has been “managed” along with media stars who pander to the business lobby. Never mind that the ruling coalition and the previous government have both been guilty of bending policy to suit special interests. Never mind that serving and retired bureaucrats have been compromised, so thick with business that it astonishes even the American establishment famous for its revolving doors between commerce and government.

Instead of introspecting on how seriously wrong our democracy has gone, we have been subjected to Operation Gloss Over, a campaign orchestrated by unctuous journalists who show up the media in as poor a light as in the Radia tapes. Privacy is at stake, national interest is at stake and so is growth. “There is a bigger issue of the nation…We have all to be proud of what we have done in India, we have got to be proud of our prime minister, we have got to be proud of the success we have. It’s terrible if we as a nation destroy ourselves and whoever is doing this kind of thing (leaking tapes) needs to consider themselves not a hero of the nation but in fact as one of the villains who would bring down this nation...”

That’s Ratan Tata of the house of Tatas and as iconic a business leader India can get. Mr Tata is at the centre of the controversy in which Radia, arguably the most powerful lobbyist anywhere, is trying to ensure that his company gets additional spectrum from the telecom ministry for its mobile services. To that end Radia is revealed as a manipulator par excellence of the media, of the bureaucracy and the political establishment, getting the right man appointed as telecom minister, managing parliamentary debates and just about running the country. None of this matters really, I guess, if it “would bring down the nation”, as Mr Tata fears.

National interest, it appears, was what prompted at least one exbureaucrat- turned-parliamentarian to lobby for tax breaks for India’s largest company Reliance Industry that would have deprived the exchequer of Rs 81,000 crore— close to half what the 2G scam has cost us. What N K Singh, a high-profile bureaucrat and now Rajya Sabha member from Bihar for the Janata Dal (United), says is that he was doing it for the nation’s energy security. Singh’s disingenuous explanation: his advocacy was not for Reliance but for the country as “a broader national energy strategy”, as he told reporters.

Then there is Deepak Parekh, HDFC chairperson and member of the most prestigious corporate boards in the country. He is upset that the glowing India story will be tarnished if we continue to be obsessed with the murky disclosures in the leaked Radia tapes. Therefore, it is the idea what constitutes the “India story” that makes the perceptions of these worthies interesting. Here is Mr Parekh expatiating on the theme, again with The Indian Express Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta who also aired Mr Tata’s worries: “Everything was going so well a few months ago. We were the darling of the Western world and multinationals and everyone wanted to invest money in India. And suddenly, there is a snap…it has really taken the wind out of our ambitions.”

But Mr Parekh shouldn’t worry too much. India is still a good investment bet for multinationals because we offer a system that suits them. It’s important to remember that however low India’s rankings on integrity—Transparency International places us 87th on a list of 178 countries on its International’s Corruption Perception Index for 2010—it has not deterred MNCs from making a beeline for this country.

A country where policies can be formulated, or manipulated, to benefit vested interests is clearly an ideal destination for investment—domestic or foreign. In fact, cumulative foreign investment topped US $169 billion in the last decade, investment which came despite the decline in India’s Integrity Score since 2008.

And yet, it is the nervousness broadcast by business leaders that has caught Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s attention. The Prime Minister, himself a key figure in the scandal and censured by the Supreme Court because of his inability to get the telecom minister to follow policy, has promised that further leaks of surveillance conversations will be plugged and there will be a privacy law soon.

Does he have anything to assuage the concerns of ordinary Indians who fear the system is loaded against them?

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  • This is an excellent exposure

    This is an excellent exposure on how corruption is practised by high level indian Businessmen and contractors in whose pockets most of the Bureaucrats sail in granting all sorts of permissions under the guise of major national development programs for promoting economic growth and thereby ensure a better quality of life for the millions of poor indians.virtually,I have seen as a member of the Environmental appraisal committee of the union ministry of Environment how even Mrs.Indira Gandhi was misled by the then political leaders like Bahuguna to forcibly accept for the most treacherous decisions on improper siting of the Mathura refinery in the upwind of the marvellous marble beauty like Taj Mahal and on the upstrem of Agra whose people will be forced to drink the polluted waters of the holy Yamuna River.The scientists of the Central water commission or the Indian Meteorological Department were merely manipulators of science to serve the money-spinning interests of the Government officials and the business lobby along with the politicians even though environmentalists presented scientific data to prove that improper siting of the refinery will disfigure the dream of children all over the world,the poem in marble.even mrs.maneka Gandhi as minister for environment could not prevent the construction of tehri dam which is a planned man-made disaster waiting in the wings and refused clearence by the Environmental appraisal committee headed by Dr.Bhumbla.Only public agitations against Nuclear plant proposed at Nagarjuna sagar reservoir in Andhra pradesh was stopped due to mass education on hazards of Nuclear plants by mass media in the state as advocated by the Daily,EENADU of 1988.The poisoning of the drinking water reservoir of Chennai was stopped by human intervention by the speeches made and articles written by the author in 1984 and 1985 although the state Government Expert committees comprising scientists and officials blindly gave clearence for such hazardous projects Thus all over the country we have several sceintists and engineers and NGO's who under the guize of experts in several governmental committees are promoting wrong siting of industries and making the projects hazardous and uneconomial in the longrun by following the wrosng methods of development in preference to the right methods of development which result in sustainable development of the country. Most of the scientsis and engineers nominated to the experts committees by the government agencies are merely corrupt persons who do not qualify to be called experts as per section 45 of the Indian Evidence Act. unless the public demand the government to make the experts also liable for punishment for recommending ecologically hazardous and economically disastrous projects the health of the people and the economic wealth of the nation cannot be promoted and if the people both in educational institutions and in public life do not work hard to protect the environment by realisisng that eternal vigilance is the price you have to pay to sustain a social welfare democracy and if people do not discharge the primary responsibilities of safeguarding the environment to protect the interests of the present and future generations as envisaged under Article 51 A(g) of the constitution of India The future generations will not forgive us for our sisn of commission and omission and the present generation may be branded by them as environmental tritors of the nation. Hence it is for the educated people and the environmentalists including NGO's to search their hearts and work in the interests of public health and welfare by fighting agaisnt environmentally hazardous projects like the Polvaram dam, Alamatti dam, dams in Assam and Nuclear plants beisng proposed at Jaitapur in Maharashtra , Bhavnagar in Gujarat and Srikakulam in Andhra Prdesh by enlisting the cooperation of all the NGO organisations including the Natioanl aliance for people's movement and their leaders. Politicians from all parties it must be remembered have become purchasabale commodities and that is why they have all supported the Prime Minister in importing inherently hazardous big nuclear reacotrs from countries like United States, France and Russia whose heads of states are interested in promoting the business interests of their contractors even if such reactors are going to ruin the health and welfare of not only the people of Inida but also the people of all other countries in the world because the nuclear reactor disasters can inject radioactive pollution through air and water including oceans as is evident from the accidents at Chernobyl in Russia and Fukushima in Japan. If scinentists and technologists have to be honest in their porfeissional dealings they must fight truth and nail against all environmentally hazardous development projects not only in all the states of India but also in all the countries in the world because environmental pollutants that poison life systems do not respect any political boundaries. Man is a rational animal and although we are born as human beings we should not degenerate into brutality by remaining indifferent emerging environmental disasters but work in a positive direction and become more humane in nature as envisaged by our Creator. Mahatma Gandhi said that science without humanity and knowledge without character and commerce without morality are some of the social evils and hence scientsits and technologists must work for the survival of man and nature by realising that service to fellowmen is service to God and love of fellowmen is love of God and environmentalism is nothing but humanism that ultimately raises humanity into Divinity in the long run.
    There must be more people like Latha who should be able to think not only intelligently but humanely and express their free and frank opinions are matters of public interest like this as their apathy does not make a positive contribution but makes things go from bad to worse and thereby they contribute for promotion of negativity in society which is dangerous.
    Prof.T.Shivaji Rao,
    Center for Environmental Studies, GITAM University, Visakhapatnam.

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