Lessons from Mediagate

Many people have asked me in the recent on what are the lessons we need to learn from the recent 2G Spectrum telecom scam and the recent Mediagate. Here is my quick take. An ordinary take? Perhaps...

Firstly, there are no good guys left in politics. Most rob, loot, extort and steal. A few stand by and watch, doing nothing to stop them. If you unfortunately have some favourite politicians which most of us don't, you can check out which category they fall in. The chances of them falling into either of these two aforementioned categories are 100 percent. If you want to know the truth about any scam, keep digging. There is no limit to venality here. No man is a thief alone. All thieves have family, friends, friend, associates, girlfriends and of course, bosses. Everyone of them makes money as they go along. That's what politics is all about: Joint Ventures.

There is nothing you cannot get done here. Anything is possible at the right price, if you have hired the right broker. It doesn't really matter how you designate or define the broker: lobbyist, PR consultant, policy advocate, political secretary, secretary general of an organization or a confederation, peon or pimp. They are the people who get the job done. When you cannot find the right broker, make friends with top journalists. They can provide you all the access you need. Sometimes foolishly, out of some mistaken sense of self-importance. Most times because these journalists themselves are in queue for some return favours from the person in office. They are the new part-time brokers.

You may be the most brilliant guy or girl around but becoming an entrepreneur in India is definitely not easy. It is the same bunch of guys (and their cronies and benamis) who get all the licences and permits and all the accolades in the media for successfully navigating their businesses through the turbulent waters of corruption and ineptitude. So catch on to a coat tail, people.

We have the left the Age of Immaculate Reputations way behind, be it in politics or business. There are brilliant crooks. And there are those who hire these brilliant crooks to get their dirty work done for them so that they can wring their hands in despair and bemoan the corruption all around. You will always find enough clever people to suggest that new laws and regulations should be framed to make businesses run by crooks legitimate. You will also find there are people who can coin the right title for the business to sound legitimate as well. So, a robber becomes a seeker of social justice and a pimp, a campaigner for alternative rights.

There is nothing wrong that some smart bureaucrats cannot explain away as perfectly legal. In fact, most of our laws are constructed in a way such that what's wrong can always be proved right and what's right can be proved wrong. The few laws that are not so ambivalent are being changed by these same clever leech-like bureaucrats to make them so.

There's nothing much one can do to punish a venal politician or a corrupt government officer apart from removing them from their current lucrative jobs so that they can walk into their twilight years, sip champegne on the French Riviera and live la dolce vita of the idle rich while new rascals grab their job to loot ordinary Indians like you and me all over again. To run a stable government, you must be deaf, dumb and blind, all at the same time. If you are not corrupt yourself, that's a plus for the job because then the media can always absolve you of any criminal intent and blame your colleagues instead. You too can occasionally join the blame game and point fingers at everyone around you. Very much like the way our good-for-nothing politicians do. Pointing fingers, it's quite fun in the end.

Even though the media may call you corrupt and blame you for all that's wrong with the world, remember it loves the bad. It's the bad that gets them their television rating points (TRPs) soaring. So it's no use doing stuff to change India, make it a better for all of us because no media will actually bother to report it. It took Mother Teresa fifty years to be recognized. It took Dawood Ibrahim three. A. Raja was famous in a fortnight.

When in the Opposition, look stupid and keep yelling at such a loud pitch that no one can hear what you are saying. If they can, they will point out that you did much worse when you were in power yourself. So just be very noisy. Don't allow your voice and yourself to be deciphered. Old crimes will crawl out of the past and knock you off your moral perch.

Surely, there are no lessons learnt. Ever. No one has asked who taped these private conversations and with whose permission. Everyone's so busy settling political scores that they have missed the real point. That people will in the government will one day tap into our telephone conversations and listen to them is the scariest scenario British writers like George Orwell once dreamt of. Today, unfortunately, it's an everyday reality.


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