Wednesday, May 5, 2010

KHAOISTS: PLUNDERING INDIA'S FUTURE

An admission: this is a rather torpid post, the spiritlessness, the tiredness induced not by any physical ailment but by a sapping despondency and a sense of hopelessness about the speed at which India seems to be hurtling towards some sort of disaster, social upheaval, coup, even revolution, whose outcome one cannot even begin to visualise at this moment in time.

I have written many posts on the cancer of corruption that is eating into the vitals of this country. But to an outsider like me, as more and more layers of the rotten onion become visible, the bottom of the pit seems to get that much farther. What I had once thought was the Nadir, appears now to be just the shallow end of the stinking pool in which members of almost every single organ of the state - politicians, babus, judiciary, police - are splashing merrily along with that so-called watchdog, the media, that now appears to be in the vanguard of The Great Indian Robbery.

I simply do not have the heart, the enthusiasm, to pen another article with the passion and detail that I have earlier. Those who have the time and inclination may go through some of the older ones, links provided at the end of this post. But the matter is so grave that I cannot shut what I am seeing out of my mind altogether and remain no more than a passive, mute spectator and, thereby, a party to this plunder of India.

As we sit in the comforts of homes and theoretically debate, unaffected and from a safe distance, whether India faces a grave threat from Maoists whose writ already runs in varying degrees in 160 districts across eight states, we forget to notice that the real darkness, the real danger is right where each one of us is, in every corner of the country, and that most of us are actually responsible for it, one way or another. Just saying that lifts a burden off my soul and makes me feel good about myself. But, it does nothing to lessen the increasing and already unbearable load that we have placed on the soul of India.

We are the Khaoists, the incorrigibly corrupt, the shameless plunderers, the reckless looters who are hollowing this country from within. With gay abandon, as though it is our birthright. Many of us will, naturally, not admit publicly to being Khaoists, but as even a fool knows, only eunuchs and men of extraordinary virtue and character can stay away from the pleasures of a harem if they live there. Both are hard to spot these days. Many of the rest of us are India's shame. We are pushing India into an abyss at a furious pace because we are in a tearing hurry to catapult to riches with the nation's wealth, the money that should have fed, clothed, educated and empowered more than half of India's population that is still mired in the grime of inhuman poverty because of our unbridled, unprincipled ambition and greed that does not think before snatching a morsel from a hungry mouth, that conveniently shuts its eyes when it sees another doing so out of fear that it may spoil our party, disrupt our good life. Not one of us is blameless here.

I am feeling enervated. So I will leave you to go through some words of a few of those who live in and/or are fully cognizant of what goes on in the Khaoist's core. Make sense of what they are trying to say - and hide - and then decide for yourself whether there is hope yet, whether anyone can pull India out of this vortex at all before it is too late.
  • Barkha Dutt. As a political journalist, I have to confess, that I am almost shock-proof when it comes to the entrenched corruption of many of our netas and the deals they strike to keep the wheels churning.
  • Rajdeep Sardesai. We live in the age of institutionalised corruption. From politicians to judges, from senior bureaucrats to policemen, from corporate tycoons to petty officials, everyone it seems has a price... ‘paid news’ is not an overnight phenomenon that began with election ‘packages’... A political candidate who pays for favourable media coverage is not guaranteed victory, a corporate house through a ‘private treaty’ is almost guaranteed lasting immunity against journalistic ‘objectivity’...has led to a near-total breakdown of rules and standards.
  • Tavleen Singh. At some point around the end of the eighties...everyone seemed to suddenly want to be in politics...the lure was filthy lucre. Indian politics had become the quickest way to make a fast buck...jewels from Cartier and Bvlgari, watches from Piaget and Patek Phillipe and handbags and shoes that cost more than an MP earns in a year.. grand mansions and hugely expensive vehicles... some travel only in private aircraft. The real money disappears into various corporate efforts that on the surface can look very legitimate. In almost every political household these days, there is at least one ‘corporate prodigy’... who thrives in the cloistered boundaries of crony capitalism...The sums we are talking of are so huge that they are beyond calculation.
  • Shekhar Gupta. Like conquerors of the past, India’s politicians love to rule, and plunder cities... In older times, cities attracted conquering hordes who wanted to sack them for their riches. Now, in democracies, the political class knows that while their votes lie in the countryside, the real money sits in the cities and their real estate...If the new Andhra can get over the loss of Hyderabad, use what it gets in compensation and its own enterprise to build a new capital city...its politicians will figure soon enough that the money-making opportunity a new city offers is much greater than an old metro nearing saturation, howsoever energetic.
  • Sagarika Ghose. (on Twitter) sad truth is media is too tied to advertising. That's why when it cos to corporates our lips are mostly sealed. not a good business model. profession has become terribly degraded. am very disillusioned! i joined in early 90s when press still meaningful.
Are Barkha Dutt and others really "shock-proof" to corruption? Their silence and thereby complicity applies only to corruption at the highest levels where the sums involved "are beyond calculation." Where petty officials and petty amounts are involved, where a cop taking a Rs 100 bribe is concerned, these guys aggressively carry out sting operations and confidently con the nation into believing that they are sparing no efforts to expose corruption and clean up the rot. Why this Janus-faced approach? Can they even begin to claim that they have remained "temptation-proof", not just for big bucks but entry into the inner circle of India's most powerful - and corrupt - politicians, whose reflected power enables them to almost 'terrorise' those on the lower rungs of political ladder with an arrogance that you will not see anywhere else in the civilised world?

Is it surprising that Shashi Tharoor can stand in the Lok Sabha and say with a straight face that it is ideals that brought him back to India after over three decades abroad and a failed attempt to become UN Secretary General, and despite the stench of corruption and nepotism emanating from him in the IPL scandal? Is it surprising that politicians are saying that the media, babus and judges rank much higher than them when it comes to graft? As the hastily buried and till now not denied allegation about the manner in which Barkha Dutt and Vir Sanghvi negotiated to get the current Raja of corruption the telecom portfolio indicates, and as is also evident from what you have read above, at the very top, corrupt politicians and journalists are like Siamese twins. Had it been otherwise, corruption would not have become the uncontrollable bush fire that it has.

I can say no more. I know this is a poor, illogical, abrupt way to end an article. Perhaps I should take a break and come back to finish it with a flourish. But why? Why should I pretend to be "shock-proof" to this pervasive rot and close this piece too with detached objectivity, when my mind is filled with a numbing mixture of revulsion, anger and helplessness at what Khaoists have done and are doing to my country, the way they are plundering its future to make their own? I think it will be best if your comments complete this unfinished story, if possible with hope.
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Previous related posts:
1. Shashi Tharoor: making a 'difference'
2. Politics and media: a new nadir
3. ND Tiwari: much more than a sex scandal
4. Covering up the mother of all corruption scandals
5. Conspicuous consumption and conspicuous poverty
6. Sink sting operations that stink
7. Capital punishment, not gain, for the corrupt
8. Corrupt, colonial India faces volcano
9. As long as there is aloo corrupt will be Laloo
10. Modi and Reddy: the choice is clear
11. Maytas: truth inverted, greed is king
12. 1000 times President's salary for India's babus
13. Tarun Tejpal: extra God and the Devil
14. Wake up (poem)
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