There is hardly anyone in the country who would not react positively to any statement about abolishing corruption. Unfortutely, however, most of the people who claim to be opposed to all kinds of corruption are themselves ankle-deep, knee-deep or chest-deep in corruption. Quite obviously, therefore, the stated opposition to corrupt practices is the sort of ritual that India seems to have refined for all kinds of situations that might arise. Be that as it may, Sarbanda Sonowal, Chief Minister of Assam, has also identified the three main elements that have negated any kind of real development of the State. According to him, they are corruption, terrorism and illegal immigration. What is often missed out is that corruption is what motivates people without any genuine ambitions about the development of their State to pretend that they are insurgents who have had enough of misrule and would, therefore, like the State to make a clean break with the Indian Union, so that they can become the eventual rulers. It is corrupt practices that impel those in the corridors of power to do nothing about cracking down on such terrorists pretending to be insurgents. What is worse, they assist in the diversion of a substantial part of tax revenues to such terrorist groups along with other undeserving beneficiaries. During the past four decades, we have had no satisfactory answer to the enigma as to why Assam’s tax revenues are not shown to have increased substantially, even though the import of consumer durables like cars, motorcycles, scooters, air conditioners, washing machines, computers, cell phones and so on from other States has increased by about 10,000 times over the quantum of imports in 1971. That being the case, Assam’s tax revenue which ought to have been about 10,000 times that of 1971, has not increased even by 1,000 times. This lapse, and the dogged unwillingness of our bureaucrats to talk about tax revenues and how they are utilized and monitored is a significant pointer to the extent of leakages of sales tax revenue that has been going on for decades. This is one of the largest and most lucrative sources of access to easy money that has been sustained by the most bizarre levels of corruption.
Or take the case of the intertiol border between India and East Pakistan/ Bangladesh having remained porous and virtually open for five decades. The easy task of illegal immigration from Bangladesh has led to (a) over two crore Bangladeshis illegally living in India; (b) their deportation to their country being confined to just a few thousand in all these years; and (c) India’s Minister of State for Home Affairs Rijiju having to tell Parliament that the government did not have any reliable records of the total number of Bangladeshis living illegally in India. Much of this could have been avoided if we did not have corrupt officers who would not hesitate even to sell their motherland. Something else that the government of India has failed to appreciate is that unlike the Indian Muslim of today, who is monogamous, the Bangladeshi immigrants are polygamous, and have been marrying three or four wives. Many such families have up to 18 or 20 children. And politicians who tell us that the Bangladeshi migrants in India have no expansionist ambitions are talking through their hats. With an increasing number of jihadists among them, it would be ive to dismiss their expansionist dreams relating to certain parts of India. It is high time a secular republic like India put an end to the special privilege of polygamy extended to just one community in India. In fact, we are making a laughing stock of ourselves to the rest of the world every time we talk of our ‘secular credentials’.
The corrupt and their cronies succeed so well in India because they are far better united and organized than clean and honest people. This has to be so for them, because the corrupt and their cronies would be dead without the most powerful vested interest called corruption. The sad part of the entire equation is that government itself, knowingly or unknowingly, contributes a great deal to the furtherance of corrupt practices by denying our society the means tackling the mece of corruption by not providing the manpower needed to tackle corruption. It is not enough to claim that X, Y or Z has been involved in corrupt practices. At this point of time, in Assam, the chairman and a few members of the Assam Public Service Commission (APSC) are in judicial or police custody. Their arrest is one of the best things to have happened in a long time. But the arrest of people charged with corrupt practices calls for the adequate number of policemen, whether the arrested crimils are in judicial custody or police custody. What happens in India is that the chronic shortage of policemen makes their arrest and trial extremely difficult. What suffers even more is the proper prosecution of such crimil elements, due to public prosecutors being loaded with other tasks like the security of VIPs. That is why the conviction rate of crimils has dwindled in India over the years. A similar shortage of judges in our courts has caused inexcusable delays in the trial of even crimil cases. The chronic shortage of the custodians of the law as well the number of available trial courts and appellate courts has also exacerbated the law’s delay in India. What makes the crimil so cocksure about being able to elude or escape the clutches of the law is the chronic shortage of policemen, prosecutors and trial courts. And as long as the crimil is able to take the calculated risk of maging to secure bail and to delay judgement day by a few years, he is happy that he has been able to buy time and defer punishment by years. For someone who has no qualifications for any kind or legal ways of making an honest living, the only option is taking to crime. The system has exacerbated the law’s delay and made crime a rather lucrative option for some. Until we can change the scerio and reduce the law’s delay, the task of tackling corruption will always remain a very difficult one.