by Heigrujam Nabashyam
The Indian Parliament has stopped discussions and debates for long 21 days on the issue of allocation of second generation mobile telephony spectrum – 2G spectrum scam – and is not likely to resume discussions in the remaining few days.
The entire opposition – left, right, centre – demanded a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) to probe into the scandal. The government did not agree to the demand saying JPC was not necessary. It says the Public Accounts Committee of the Parliament itself is a JPC and that the PAC is the appropriate body to go into the scandal. The government stated it in no way made any attempt to cover it up. And the minister was made to resign.
One may understand that the objection of the government to form a JPC is primarily because a JPC can summon the prime minister for questioning, which is the last thing a government would agree. The contention of the opposition is that considering the scale of the scam, only a JPC could get to the bottom of the scandal. The opposition raises the question of code of propriety of the prime minister’s alleged silence or inactivity that the Supreme Court had pointed out.
Corruption, as anyone would find it difficult to disagree, is widespread in India and is found bracketed with the most corrupt countries of the world in a recent report. In fact corruption has become one of the most serious challenges to the state system itself. Witness the Delhi Commonwealth Games, 2010, for instance. The Games was a success and it has given Delhi a much better infrastructure, no doubt. But the multi-crore rupees contract for the Games preparation was marked by inefficiency and corruption – highly inflated rates, substandard works and supplies, etc.
In a democracy where even the judges are not unknown for corruption – the Supreme Court recently referred to such an instance involving the judges of the Allahabad High Court – the aesthetic of corruption has been richly germinated in the ethos of the public leaders and the elites as well.
Now, look at ourselves in Manipur; and it may be one of the worst cases. We talk vaingloriously of our rich cultural heritage but we conveniently shower praises to the Madhu Kodas and Suresh Kalmadis. We ostracize and lynch a pick-pocket but turn a blind eye to those who loot the public exchequer.
Not surprisingly, despite massive funds pumped in and the all-out support by the UPA government the public suffer immensely. Perennial uncontrolled prices in the market and failed PDS are the rule of the day. Inefficiency and corruption with impunity is the mark of the SPF government.
However, one who is not conversant with Manipur may find it shocking to know that there are plenty of local pundits and experts, who do not understand the import and significance of accountability, responsibility, transparency, propriety and commitment. They profess their appreciation of the Kodas, on the plea that they do something for Manipur, as if they are doing some charitable work and helping the people out; not knowing that any government with a little imagination and integrity would have done much better. This is bizarrely a sick social condition. Or, perhaps the money poured into Manipur overawed them and eventually they lost their sense of judgement !
Interestingly it has now become a fashionable ritual for the SPF leadership to preach the virtues of nationalism, peace and development to the public and ask for public cooperation to the endeavours of the government to develop Manipur. This has enticed one to remind the government to practice what it preaches. If that happens, that would definitely go down extremely well with the public more than any preaching.
In his address to the people on the Word AIDS Day, the Chief Minister had lamented that despite his government’s sincere effort to develop Manipur; armed personnels have greatly disturbed the development works – the multi-crore rupees contracts. And in return, he complained, his government is being criticized from various quarters. He had sought the sympathy of the public asking them what he could possibly do in such a situation ?
Now, the pity is the Chief Minister cannot understand that the criticism is against corruption and misrule of the government – not any sterile blame-game, as the Chief Minister portrays himself as a victim of it. One may remember that the SPF government is firmly in the saddle since the beginning of this 21st century. It is no use to lament or complain for what one fails to do. One also understands that the SPF government has inherited a mess of problems a decade ago, but it should have tackled the problems tactfully and with imagination. Is not a-near-decade old rule not suffice to make the difference ?
The SPF government has on the other hand, caused enough problems for Manipur and made the public suffer by its sheer misrule – there are a number of cases. And in the bargain the public become unruly; or they are made to be so. What a funny situation!
One may remember how the SPF government pushed the panic button in fear of a Muivah, unnecessarily frightening the public and setting off a chain reaction, even as organizations such as UCM and AMUCO did not bother. Now that the resultant animosities among the public have not just gone away. What is disturbing is a divisive situation or a Kashmir like atmosphere has been created within Manipur by the policies of the Ibobi Singh government. One must understand that occasional emotional outbursts and show of spirit in public is no antidote for this unfortunate development. If the Chief Minister has the sense of responsibility he should have resigned for causing such serious damage to the relationships that go back to aeon, in the interest of Manipur.
However, the most remarkable feature of the SPF government indeed its raison deter the historic is, it is endowed with unprecedented central funds – “Manipur has now received the kind of financial support it has never had before”, as UPA Chairperson told the people at Kangla during her last visit. This phenomenon is brought by the rapidly growing economic prosperity of India, but we cannot ignore the contribution of those who have left their homes for decades. One wonders, if not for them, would the government of India ever pay such attention to a fringe state like Manipur!
Author is ex-candidate of Singjamei Assembly Constituency, Manipur.