Saturday, February 5, 2011

That Scandal Called Spectrum

Well this is perhaps an apt title. There are no heated debates on it anymore, neither are there front page covers on trying to understand what really happened in 2008. A Raja has been arrested; blood has been bayed; we can all go rest in peace now. Or can we?

Mr. Kapil Sibal has brought out a report under Former Justice Shivraj Patil (not to be confused with former Home Minister Shivraj Patil, that suit changing man), that states that the rot began with 2003 under the NDA. Also, he has been loud and upbeat in disrespecting the Comprtoller and Auditor General (CAG, the Indian government's accountant) report on the perceived loss due to allocation of 2G spectrum by trashing it on the grounds of 'accounting procedures adopted'. I don't know why people do not bring the following points to light:

1. Be it any government under whom the scam had begun, the truth is that there has been a scandal. Start investigating and stop hiding behind the curtains of allegation-counter-allegation amidst all the mudslinging people have jumped into. In that case, one should start with Sukhram under Mr. PV Narsimha Rao's government. Though he was sent to jail, what else changes happened? Nothing! (in retrospect, that INR 4000 crore scandal is peanuts compared to what happened in 2008).

2. The government response to the scandal and its investigation has been an absolute sham. There was no reason why it took the government and the CBI three years to arrest A. Raja when all the evidence was already in the public domain. Tehelka, Outlook and The Daily Pioneer had, for two and a half years, been highlighting the issue before the mainstream media decided to pick it up. Even the so called mainstream media is guilty of not raking the issue and highlighting it in time.

3.As to the perceived loss, Mr. Sibal saying that the loss is only INR 19,000 crore is laughable. Any third grade non-accountant can also tell you the fact that it is very easy to play with numbers. Having worked with balance sheets, I can vouch for the fact that the same balance sheet having a loss of INR 176,000 crore can be made to look like a net profit of INR 20,000 crore - it is all about number crunching. Even if the loss is only INR 19,000 crore rupees, a scam has taken place. For God's sake stop arguing about what the real loss is and get on with the case, its investigation and the prosecution!

4. Where are our laws to deal with corporate crimes? Nowhere! So what we really need is a legal framework to deal with such white-collared crimes as well as Mr. Rajeev Chandrashekhar has pointed out on several occasions. When will the government do something about that issue? Wait! Its busy pandering to the whims of the Ambanis and Tatas!

SO much so for calling ourselves a free and fair democracy; in reality we are an opaque system of governance where it is very easy to drown people in the din of shouting matched to mislead them big-time.

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