After the panel discussion, the floor was open for questions. That was when Mohan Maruti’s “moment of truth” turned into an hour of shame and embarrassment – when the participants fired questions and made remarks on their experiences with the evil of corruption in India.
The awkwardness and humiliation Mohan Maruti went through reminded him of ‘The Moment Of Truth’, the popular Anglo-American game. The more questions he answered truthfully, the questions got more tougher and here more tougher definitely means more embarrassing.
Questions ranged from “Is your nation in a coma?”, the corruption in administration, even in judiciary, the possible impeachment of a judge, the 2G telecom scam and to the money in billions, parked illegally in tax havens.
It was a fact that the problem of corruption in India had assumed enormous and embarrassing proportions in recent years, although it had been with us for decades. The questions and the debate that followed in the panel discussion was indicative of the European disquiet. At the end of the Q & A session, Mohan Maruti surmised that Europeans perceive India to be at one of those junctures where tripping over the precipice can’t be ruled out.
This can be substantiated further with what the European media had to say in recent days: In a popular prime-time television discussion in Germany, the panelist, a member of the German parliament quoting a blog said: “If all the scams of the last five years are added up, India is likely to rival and exceed the British colonial loot of India by about a trillion dollars.”
One German business daily wrote an editorial on India said: “India is becoming a Banana Republic instead of being an economic superpower. To get the cut motion designated out, assurances are made to political allays. Special treatment is promised at the expense of the people. So, Ms Mayawati, who is a chief minister of the most densely inhabited state, is calmed by scrapping an intelligence agency probe. The investigation of the multi-million dollars fodder scam by another former chief minister wielding enormous power is put in cold storage. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh chairs over this kind of unparalleled loot.”
An article in a French newspaper titled “Playing The Game, Indian Style’ wrote: “Investigations into the shadowy financial deals of the Indian cricket league have revealed a web of transactions across tax havens like Switzerland, the Virgin Islands, Mauritius and Cyprus.” In the same article, the name of one Hassan Ali of Pune was mentioned as operating with his wife a one-billion dollar illegal Swiss account with “sanction of the Indian regime”.
A third story narrated in the damaging article is that of the former chief minister of Jharkhand, Madhu Koda, who was reported to have funds in various tax havens that were partly used to buy mines in Liberia. “Unfortunately, the Indian public don’t know the status of the enquiry,” the article concluded.
“In the nastiest business scam in Indian records (Satyam) the government adroitly covered up the political aspects of the swindle – predominantly involving real estate,” wrote an Austrian newspaper. “If the Indian Prime Minister knows nothing about these scandals, he is ignorant of ground realities then he does not deserve to be Prime Minister. If he does, is he a collaborator in crime?”
The Telegraph of the UK reported the 2G scam saying: “Naturally, India’s elephantine legal system will ensure culpability, is delayed”
This seems true. In the European mind, caricature of a typical Indian encompasses qualities of falsification, telling lies, being fraudulent, dishonest, corrupt, arrogant, boastful, speaking loudly and bothering others in public places or, while traveling, swindling when the slightest of opportunity arises and spreading rumors about others. The list is truly incessant.
Mohan Maruti’s father, who is 81 years old, is utterly frustrated, shocked and disgruntled with whatever is happening and said in a recent discussion that our country’s motto should truly be CHANGED TO ‘Asatyameva Jayate.’
Europeans believe that India leaders in politics and business are so blissfully blinded by the new, sometimes ill-gotten, wealth and deceit that they are living in defiance, insolence and denial to comprehend that the day will come sooner than later, when the have-nots would hit the streets.
In a way, it seems to have already started with the monstrous and grotesque acts of the Maoists. And, when that rot occurs, not one political turncoat will escape being lynched.
The drumbeats for these rebellions are going to get louder and louder as our leaders refuse to listen to the voices of the people. Eventually, it will lead to a revolution that will spill to street across the whole of India, Mohan Maruti fears.
Perhaps we are the architects of our own misfortune. It is our sab chalta hai (everything goes) attitude that has allowed people to mislead us with impunity.
No wonder Aesop said: “We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to high office.”
Acknowledgement: Mohan Maruti is the author of the above article and was a former Europe Director, CII, and now lives in Cologne, Germany.