Scams, scams, scams. Wherever you look, there are scams. So many in fact that people are losing faith in everything. Unless of course, you are a cynic and say, as many do, that corruption rules India with a firmer hand than any Government, you must disgusted to see how everyone in power has been looting india. A report on Global Financial Integrity last week mentioned $462 billion has been siphoned out since independence, most of it derived from corruption and kickbacks.
Now, I am the kind of person who cannot even figure out how many zeroes exist in $462 billion but it certainly looks like an astonishingly large figure. In the mid-eighties, journalists went behind Rajiv Gandhi for the Rs. 64 crore Bofors scam and even though, we knew the actual amount purloined was much more, it was never in the league of today's scams. The Commonwealth Games scam alone is approximately Rs. 70,000 crores and growing. The 2G Spectrum scam is Rs. 170,000 crore. Yes, I am learning how to count but Maths isn't the issue here. It's probity. Has it finally deserted us? Is everyone a chor, as an unknown Indian tweeted the other day? His exact words were: Is khel mein, sab chor hain.
Now that's something I find hard to believe. I personally feel it is not true. India by and large is not a corrupt nation. The ordinary Indians are not corrupt people. No, this is not wishful thinking. This is established on the basis of people we meet daily. Most Indians are honest, hard-working. They try really hard to live out their lives in difficult circumstances; whatever our GDP growth may be and the stock market indices may show. Life is certainly not easy for most of them. Yet, they demonstrate exemplary courage, dignity and faith.
What lets the ordinary Indian is the ruling elite, the 10% of India which grabs all the loot. They are the ones in control everywhere and they are so supremely networked that is almost impossible for the rest of us to break into the club of bandits and robber barons. So much so that we have literally come to believe that corruption is a way of life today. Look around you and you will see it prevalent everywhere. It's this 10% of India that manipulates the foundation of politics and policy and protects each other when the chips are down. They are connected to each other as in a feudal protectorate. Even in rare cases where they are not, there are enough pimps around to help them schmooze. That's the reason why parties change, leaders change, voting patterns change but no one can break the nexus of the supremely corrupt. They are all partners in crime even as they throw much at each other in the Parliament. Occasionally, when they are caught with their hand in the till, they are allowed to melt away. They are never punished.
Supporting this exclusive club in politics is bunch of indolent, leech-like bureaucrats. They have no political affiliations. They switch sides in a blink. They sense where power lies and they inveigle their way there, to make their own fortunes as well as the fortunes of their Teflon-clad political bosses. Sure, there are many bureaucrats who are honest, upright and impossible to corrupt. But most of them live a difficult life. Some suffer silently, waiting for retirement or better postings. Others quit the service.
The same is true for businessmen. A large number of Indian businessmen may not exactly be models of great rectitude that the society can emulate but the exact opposite is also true. There are many hardworking enterpreneurs, many amazing professionals who have created world-class companies that do make us feel proud. But the tragedy is that the system, the netas, the babus compel them to make compromises that they could otherwise avoid. Some are brave enough to refuse and bear the consequences. Others succumb citing political pressure. Scared, many squirrel away their money overseas because they don't know when the next bolt from the blue may strike. As a result, illicit outflows from India today account for nearly 72% of the underground economy.
Everyone knows that if we bring the money back, every Indian will have a job, no one will starve, no one will have to pay taxes and not just MPs, we would get free medical facilities and pension. But the tragedy is unfortunately, this will never happen because the entire money is secretly banked overseas which belongs to that 10% of India that rules over us and they see no risk in keeping it there.
While we, the 90% of India may keep protesting and raising our voices against corruption, there is no clear road map as yet emerging on how to take on this 10% of India and seize back what is rightfully ours. After all, Mahatma Gandhi fought and died for us. So did Subhash Chandra Bose and many others. Why must we allow a tiny bunch of fellow Indians to take this nation from us? Why should we live with the disgusting monikers, who allegedly representing the common man of India?