Life and file

Life and file

There was an interesting scene in a Tamil film called “Iru Kodugal’’ (Two Lines) by famous director K.Balachander, which was later...

Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley has said, and rightly so, that the files did not disappear, but they were made to disappear

There was an interesting scene in a Tamil film called “Iru Kodugal’’ (Two Lines) by famous director K.Balachander, which was later made into a Telugu film as “Collector Janaki’’. By a strange quirk of destiny, the deserted wife of a person becomes a Collector while her husband is a head clerk in the same office. A file is missing. The collector pulls him up. “You could not redress a fault with all your experience,’’ she chides. He says apologetically: “I will search for the file, Madam’’.

She puts her foot down saying: “I am not talking of the file. I am talking of life’’. He is nonplussed. She then says: “If you cannot be vigilant about the pitfalls - then there is…’’. He interposes saying: “I am sorry for what happened to us those days’’. She looks at him directly in the eyes and asserts: “I am not talking of life now, but of the bloody missing file!’’. It was theatre at its best.

What is happening in the government – I am talking, surely, of missing files - is nothing short of it. It is theatre, not of the absurd but of blatant abject corruption. To say that an inquiry has been ordered into the lapse is hypocrisy of the highest order. At least half a dozen officials have to be arrested if the government is really honest, which is again debatable.

Years ago, we registered a property paying far less than the guideline value and the differential amount happened to be Rs 31 lakhs. The government insisted on the payment. We approached the court for the redressal, giving a bank guarantee to the revenue department until the verdict was given one way or the other.

A wily advocate of ours confided to us that the payment could be deferred for any length of time we choose or could be avoided altogether. But how? He said that the file would disappear as long as we need, for a price. Alternatively, the file could disappear permanently for yet another price! Such is the modus operandi in the lower echelons of governance. No wonder, the Delhi officials perfected the art in these years.

The coal scam involves a whopping 5078.03 billion, according to a CAG report. It directly involves the Prime Minister’s office. The coal block allotments extended undue benefits totaling 10.67 trillion giving the beneficiaries 155 coal acreages without auction during 2004 and 2009 when the Prime Minister was directly in charge of the ministry. And the CAG listed the beneficiary companies. It is corruption unheard of in Indian history. While there is a furore in Parliament over the default, 257 files in the department are found missing. How convenient for the establishment! A news channel has categorized the item ‘the list of the missing files’!

Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley has said, and rightly so, that the files did not disappear, but they were made to disappear. Look at the sequence of events. Soon after the CAG report, the UPA government denied the Coalgate scam, a trait perhaps imbibed from our illustrious neighbor. When the BJP raised a din, the government agreed for a CBI probe. While CBI prepared the status report, the government tampered with it resulting in some heads rolling.

When eventually the lies were being nailed, very conveniently 257 files went missing. Interestingly, those files concerned the companies of Naveen Jindal and Vijay Darda among many others wherein the Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal and the Prime Minister gave the sanctions. Very clearly AMR Iron and Steel Limited, Nagpur, had directors with close links to the MP Vijay Darda and the Coal Minister. Whoever is responsible for the ‘’cover-up’’ was selective and effective. What is more, the Coal Minister dared the Opposition in the Parliament to prove his culpability!

Denial of a crime has become the order of the day. Former Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal denied his involvement with his nephew Vijay Singla in the Rs 10-crore Railway bribery case. BCCI secretary Srinivasan denied his involvement in match-fixing cases of his son-in-law Gurunath Meyyappan.

The then Chief Minister of Karnataka BS Yeddyurappa denied any involvement with his family members in Rachenahalli land case near Bangalore involving $4.8 million. Kanimozhi, daughter of Karunanidhi, who has been sent to jail with prima facie evidence, denied her involvement in the embezzlement in starting a channel in the name of her father while there is the channel for everybody to see! At this rate, even poor Bangaru Laxman, who was caught on camera in a sting operation by Tehelka accepting a bribe, could have denied receiving the bribe!

It is beyond the common man to understand and even to believe that these leaders, caught red-handed time and again with all the evidence could deny their culpability and get away!

It is baffling that the Prime Minister does not choose to stand up and speak in the House. Does it require so much persuasion and protests by the entire Opposition to make him speak? There was a lapse in the ministry during his time according to the highest constitutional body of this country. He was himself a senior bureaucrat once. One wonders what is happening in this country when the person holding the highest office, who is sitting in the House is a mute spectator to the entire din around him.

Here is a strange and unusual incident my father told me about during my childhood. This happened some 70 years back. My father was working in Imperial Chemical Industries (Private) Limited, a British company. A British officer was in charge of the office at Visakhapatnam. He was a fine, upright officer but unfortunately had fallen into bad habits. He misused, not misappropriated, office funds to the tune of Rs.120. It was a large amount those days.

When eventually, higher officials sensed the default, this officer could not show his face to them out of shame. What did he do? He went to the seashore one night and shot himself. My father used to tell us that he was a very fine gentleman and hence the nemesis.

I think in these seven decades we have lost the sensitivity, sense of shame, sense of guilt, and perfected the art of bullying. The parties in Parliament, which are rarely unanimous about any transaction, are for once unanimous in questioning the judgment of the Supreme Court that tickets be denied to persons with criminal backgrounds.

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