Tue, 26 Mar, 2019

Vigilance week reduced to mere ritual

With the corridors of power becoming hotbeds of corruption, there is a clear failure of practicing what vigilance awareness week preaches

06th November 2018, 03:11 Hrs

Deepak Laad

In a vast country like ours with religious, racial, cultural diversities there is no dearth of festivals. Add to this days dedicated to mother, father, sister, brother, teachers, Hindi language and now of late to beards too. Though vigilance awareness observance is stretched to a week, it hasn’t really been of any help, where corruption is concerned. Travesty is an exercise undertaken by transparency international – the international corruption watchdog – to rank the most corrupt country with regards to corruption perceived in the public sector. We struggle somewhere around 80th place among 180 nations.

This time around, vigilance awareness week has come at a time when the government has egg on its face, as the premier investigative agency of the nation-CBI- stands exposed in the worst ever episodes of corruption in the history of the bureau. 

The director and special director of the CBI, with bounden duty to investigate crimes of the individuals and institutions have ended up accusing each other of accepting bribes amounting to crores of rupees from the accused and of floating shell companies. A senior RAW officer is also involved in this nefarious ‘enterprise’ of extortion. With the disgusting inner details spilling freely in the visual and print media, the duo hasn’t been left with even a single fig leaf to cover their shame. The director wouldn’t budge when the government tried to nudge him, so the latter forcibly raided his office in the dead of night and installed their pliant officer as interim director and made him immediately issue 14 transfers of senior investigating officers. Ironically, the newcomer too came with his own load of corruption charges levelled against him.

The observance of ‘vigilance awareness week’ came at the heel of this tragicomic scenario unfolding in the CBI. 

Central vigilance commission (CVC) that coined the theme –“Eradicate corruption-build a new India” especially for vigilance awareness week had shown lack of spine as it chose to maintain a studied silence when the government trespassed in the domain of the CBI with blatant disregard for procedures.  The CVC miserably failed to be vigilant in this matter, so with what face will it propagate ‘vigilance awareness’ in the nation? 

Over the years, all these top officers, now mired in corruption charges, must have observed ‘vigilance awareness week’ reverentially in their offices taking the oath themselves and administering it to their subordinates. The predicament they are presently in insinuates that the week is being observed just as a ritual only to comply with the departmental instructions.

Actually, when the corridors of power have become a hotbed of corruption, the government is always very eager to ram ‘vigilance awareness’ down the throat of simple folks like us who lead honest lives, who never accept or even expect anything beyond our legitimate income and pay all the taxes and dues to the government well in time, without any demur.

Today, in public life we come across many instances of corruption on regular basis and if we decide to react we are dissuaded by our near and dear ones counselling us with the usual refrain of “you cannot change the system.”

The blight of corruption is spread by politicians. We being vigilant cannot stop the powerful politicians from distributing money and gifts and seeking votes in return. Today the voters too, do not have qualms in accepting them, though they know he or she will make money through unfair means once elected and recover what is spent on them, manifold. During the last assembly elections in Karnataka , my milkman went to his native place to do his ‘sacred democratic duty’ of casting a vote and in the process earned a total of Rs 3000 from three different political parties. 

Come Diwali and suppliers, contractors distribute Diwali ‘gifts’ among government employees, the value being directly proportional to the position and utility of the person who is being gifted. In Mumbai traditionally bank employees are given cash packets as gifts-which are called ‘Diwali’mostly by diamond traders. The discussions in branches during festive times are centred around who gave how much ‘Diwali’.

The segregating line between gifts and bribes is very thin. You never know where one ends and the other begins. 

When a national political party president’s son’s business grows exponentially during the time the party is in power and someone in the press raises suspicion, the accused instead of showing willingness to undergo any scrutiny to clear his name in the matter, hauls the journalist to court slapping defamation and seeking crores of rupees in compensation. When suspicion is raised in a TV debate that a particular business house was unethically favoured by the government to corner a major defence contract due to its proximity to them, the business house too thinks it is defamed and promptly takes the TV channel to court slapping defamation and claiming compensation in crores.

The common man is vigilant but doesn’t dare expose the wrongdoings fearing getting fixed up by the high and the mighty. So after taking oath to be vigilant to uproot corruption he ends up like Gandhiji’s three monkeys with a slight a variation – look the other way when evil is happening, keep mouth shut if you have witnessed it and be deaf to cries of injustice. 

There is clear failure of practicing what the ‘vigilance awareness week’ preaches. In other words crores of rupees of expenses incurred to spread the message in order to sensitize the citizens go down the drain.

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