India Against Corruption



Shooing out of an ias shark

By PREM CHANDRAN RAMA MOHAN RAO, who was shooed out of the post of Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu state .....

: Oct 2012
: Adur, Kerala, India
: 66
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Thumbs up Shooing out of an ias shark


RAMA MOHAN RAO, who was shooed out of the post of Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu state a day ago, is now being seen as among the allegedly shameless bureaucrats who flaunted their IAS tag, robbed the exchequer, undercut social causes, and filled their cash-chests with ill-gotten crores on a daily basis. The loose systems in India allowed it during and after the age of governmental permissiveness -- the Manmohan Singh-Sonia Gandhi era. Providence has now caught up with this jerk almost at the fag end of his career, and years after he superseded several other IAS officials to occupy the top bureaucratic slot in the state. He had a windfall at the sweet will of the late empress – J Jayalalithaa who ruled the state with her own kind of muscle-flexing, alleged fraud and imperiousness. Rao, and his chums, are not alone. The rest might be caught sooner or later. That’s the new mood in India today, at the back of the demonetisation drive that's transforming itself into a major offensive against black money and corruption. The tremor from Chennai's state secretariat, Fort St George, cannot but have shocked the bureaucracy spread over the length and breadth of India.

It was by chance and in a casual raid in Chennai on some vehicles carrying currency bundles of a petty contractor turned sand-mining contractor Sekhar Reddy, who was also a Tirupati temple board member, that the cat was out of the bag. Sekhar Reddy having been caught in the net, his shadow invariably reached up to his close chum, Rama Mohan Rao. When Income Tax sleuths swooped down on Rao’s plush home, it was not Tamil Nadu’s policemen who provided the security to the investigators, but over 50 personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force, in scary uniforms and wielding their rifles. Chennai was just about waking up with the usual hymns from temples, and time was a little after 5am. Rama Mohan Rao’s carefully built edifice started trembling, but not crumbling. Not yet.

With over Rs 100crore seized from Sekhar Reddy and over 140crore worth of gold bars in Reddy’s possession sealed, investigation is now progressing as to whose wealth they really were. Was it the ”Sand” Reddy’s, or his close friend Rama Rao’s; or was it Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu’s? In public perception, the three men represent three reprehensible shades of public life in India today – of rats from shanties turning billionaires overnight by way of their unholy nexus with bureaucrats and politicians; of unscrupulous bureaucrats taking the governments for a ride; and of wily and wicked politicians leading the nation and its people up the garden path. These three are not cases in isolation. They are there everywhere, state after state, but they mostly remain uncaught. However, with the advancements in technology, with every Indian getting linked to Aadhar identification card, with every pie moving everywhere under the watch of the government, and with PM Modi out to exorcise the ghosts of India’s corrupt as is widely believed, chances are that the days of many of them are numbered. It could now be more difficult for anyone to bluff their way out of a “corrupt” situation.

Considering the fate and failure of anti-corruption drives in this country in the past, optimism is in short-supply, though. Hardly any bureaucrat or politician in this country ever got punished, other than a few who have no godfather in the establishment or judiciary to help them out. These few are either the Dalits, the un-influential among the Muslims, or the backward Hindus and the like, which are where the law shows its strengths. No investigation against IAS officials progresses smoothly. Files remain tied to office shelves. A recent finding in Telangana state, as should also the case elsewhere, was that no case investigation reports filed by the anti-corruption bureau and state vigilance in the last five years against corrupt officials were ever taken forward, and there were clear attempts by the bureaucracy, birds of the same feather, to protect the accused babus.

What happens, as is seen mostly, is that these officials under suspension will sooner or later be re-inducted, saying the allegations against them could not be proven. What also happens is, their back-wages for the duration of the time they were under suspension, five years or more possibly, will be paid in full. So, aftercooling of their heels back home for long, they will laugh their way back to the offices, cock a snook at the fair-minded officials, and continue with their loot with renewed confidence.

When PM Modi claims he’s trying to check corruption, is he also aware that this here is the game that’s played around? He should know, as he headed a state administration for a decade or more. But, will he have the guts to pick these men by the scruff of their collar and throw out these bad apples from the governance basket, before these wily characters find ways and means to throw Modi and his government out?

News is that Rama Mohan Rao’s son, at whose house too raids were held in the past few days, has admitted he’s in possession of over Rs 17crore of unaccounted money. If so, he learned the tricks of the trade, in part, from Jagan Mohan Reddy, son of late Congress CM YS Rajasekhar Reddy. IAS babu Rao’s son has started several businesses under the direct watch – one presumes – of Amma, his father’s benefactor, and it will take several days of hard labour for the IT men to count all the money the father-son duo were fiddling with.

Mind you, all these got exposed by just one casual naka bandi (road blockade in the aftermath of the demonetisation exercise, its trail leading up to a state chief secretary!). So, what about the rest of India? Or, what about Tamil Nadu, if it’s left simply to the likes of O Panneerselvam and Sasikala Natarajan? What kind of images they hold of themselves?

Even stupidity should have its limits. The one who presides over Tamil Nadu as chief minister today was, till the other day, at the receiving end of the ludicrous imperiousness of his lady boss Jayalalthaa. He walked around with a framed photo of his leader; and after her demise, he moves around with a photo of hers in his shirt’s pocket. Now, he might also be carrying a photo of Sasikala. No self-respecting individual could bring such a shame on Indian democracy; and if he and the rest of the clowns around Jayalalithaa did it, or keep doing so, what do you make of the leader who perpetrated such a heinous system over many years? The Dravidians among the Tamils are a simple people, and everyone knows as to how passionate are they when it comes to adoring their leaders, but does it mean their leader should encourage such shameful acts and bring shame not only on the state and its people, but on the system of democracy itself"? To her credit, Sasikala – who was running a video library in some obscure corner of Chennai until she was introduced to Jayalalithaa – never went that far, at least openly. But, how do we trust these men and women, base elements, to provide a clean and responsible administration?

Rama Mohan Rao and those of his ilk in the governance mechanisms are the real curse of this nation. No one has as yet estimated his total wealth though he came from an ordinary family in Chittoor, Andhra Pradesh. What the IT sleuths have laid their hands on so far gives the hint, as per media reports, that he has at least Rs 50crore of wealth. It could in reality be a hundred crore or a 200crore; who knows? This was what one bureaucrat made under the direct watch of what is generally hailed as the Best Administrator of India, the Amma. And, we know how much savings one can make from the salary of an IAS official.

PM Modi has touched a raw nerve by his demonetisation step, and the problems thereof are reducing, after a mayhem of nearly two months. Now, there’s money in banks, and there’s money in ATMs as well. There’s no more of the hard struggle of the past weeks. There has been a turnaround for the better. The government having won a reprieve, hope is that the raids would be carried forward with more vigour. The genie is out of the bottle. It has to be either exorcised -- the sooner the better - or it will turn around and make a bigger mess. Can the nation afford to bear such an eventuality?

From the bare looks of it, however, India is in for good days. If tax evasion was a way of life here, it is no more going to be easy. Every cash transaction is now on record. The Income Tax department has gone through its databank and sent notices to as high as 7 million tax evaders of the previous year, asking them to come on board, pay up, or face the consequences. What does this mean? A whole lot of money is going to get into the government kitty. Year after year! The licensiousness of the past is just a grim reminder for the future. Add to this the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime that is going to be in place by the middle of the next year. It would mean every product will have its tax (for the government) cut at the production level itself, not at the sales level. The Gujarati bania (trading community) that Modi is, he knows the difference this can make. The government is going to get its pie from every individual. A poor tribal who buys a soap or a toffee for his child too will now have paid a pie as tax --- as tax is included in the price of the product itself. In a nation of one billion plus, with tax compliance being total, think of the money a government makes a day, a month, a year!

So, what would Modi do with all this financial windfall? Chances are that he would put half of it, or 50 percent, in infrastructure development. He is also expected to put a part of this income to help the poor out of their predicament; possibly a 25 percent allotment for their health, home and schooling. He could also afford to set apart the rest 25 percent to defence needs, not because Pakistan is our neighbour, but because China keeps cocking a snook at us and all too often.

In the last two-and-a half years, the defence scenario in and around Arunachal Pradesh has gone in for a major overhaul. It is where China has been poking and provoking us for some time, and building a lot of military infrastructure on the other side of the border, telling India in clear terms that it would try march in one day. Manmohan Singh would have been sitting back and blinking, but the level of military build-up by India in Arunachal is now getting closer to a match-up with what China is doing on the other side of the border. We yet have miles to go before we rest. This is also a reason why there is realisation on the part of the BJP leadership, as was put on record by Ram Madhav and others, that India’s real problem is not Pakistan, but China. There is increasing recognition on the part of Indian leadership on this count, and some senior Congress leaders too have been one with the government on this matter. Massive increases in defence spending – unlike the time of AK Antony when defence funds were used in limited ways in an era of criminal indecisiveness – is the hallmark of the present government.

Where this would take us to is unpredictable, but with China sniffing around, both on the ground and in the seas around India, a military build-up is the only logical way forward. Even to keep Pakistani generals at a safe distance away, this is necessary. If Communists in India keep cribbing, it’s their problem. The way forward for India is to increasingly engage the US, and in due course make China account for the nearly 40,000 square kilometres of Indian land that it had annexed in 1962. We need the land back. Period! –

Last edited by Premchandran; 01-04-2017 at 08:33 PM
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