The extent and depth of corruption in the organization of 2010 Commonwealth Games (CWG) by the Committee led by the Congress politician Suresh Kalmadi, the Ministries of Sports and Urban Development, the Congress ruled Delhi administration, the Municipal Committee and others being unveiled by Indian media led by Times-now and the brazenfaced stone walling by India’s corrupt ruling elite is a symptom of the decline of the Indian state. More than 5,000 athletes from 71 countries and thousands of visitors. are expected for the games; the 19th such event for countries formerly colonized by Great Britain and scheduled to be held in October. But the preparations are behind schedule, with terror security threats looming in the background.
The can of worms of the corruption in CWG was opened by former Minister of Sports, Mani Shankar Aiyar, who said that he would not be unhappy if CWG failed as it would stop bids for organizing Asiads and Olympic Games (and more corruption) which India can ill afford. As the Minister, Mani had opposed the bids for Asiad and other games. It would be a waste of money, he said. This money could be better utilized by creating sports facilities in villages and districts to cast a wider net for talent hunt and to nurture and train it (as did the Communist states before the Fall of the Berlin Wall.) Mani’s sports portfolio was taken away. Earlier his portfolio of oil and gas was taken away since Washington did not like his efforts to create energy security by tying up with Iran and Myanmar. US ambassador in Delhi publicly demanded his removal. Germany and others. in Europe have tied up energy supply from Russia and even possibly Iran despite regular admonitions from ally Washington. But Manmohan Singh administration remains beholden to US and has caused immense harm to India’s strategic and vital interest and continues to do so.
Total Expenditure to be $ 20 billion?
When work on the CWG began in 2006 the mega budget was Rs. 22,000 crores (4.7 crores = US$ one million.) Now it is Rs. 30,000 crores and ballooning! The Delhi government increased taxes and rolled back crucial subsidies. The CWG Village budget of Rs. 465 crores in 2004 is now Rs. 1400 crores. Traffic and communication infrastructure budget doubled from Rs. 40 to Rs. 80 crores. The budget for 11 stadia, Rs. 1200 crores in 2004, has risen to Rs. 5000 crores. The construction is shoddy and way behind deadline. Work on flyover altered mid-way several times and new unplanned additions made the budget jump to Rs. 1,650 crores. Another unplanned expenditure is Street-scaping, Rs. 1000 crores.
It is easy to inflate costs of construction projects and siphon away money. The various agencies had enough time but delay and then urgency provides a cover for corruption. Security will cost Rs. 370 crores; thanks to terror scare .Events planning has increased from Rs. 920 crores in 2004, to Rs. 2307 crores now. Indian Express quoted a figure of around forty five thousand crores around 10 billion US dollars. Everyone is making hay (money) under the sunshine of political cover, with major money going to the political bosses .The general public perception, rightly, is that barring a few exceptions all politicians have their fingers in the public till. According to media reports a lion’s share of this money had moved out to the bank accounts of the officials of Organizing Committee and others and not for the games.
Sharad Yadav, leader of the opposition Janata Dal (United) party claimed in the Parliament that one lakh crores Rs. ($20 billion) would be spent on the Games .In a typical Indian rope trick style , no one knows how much money will be spent and where the buck stops . Media reported from time to time that huge sums were demanded by the Committee and others and accepted. The National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights and the Housing & Land Rights Network disclosed that the Delhi government even diverted over Rs. 740 crores from funds meant for SCs and STs (Dalits) to the games.
CBI sleuths are investigating allegations of bribery, over-billing, illegal commissions, improper contracts, substandard construction work - and perhaps millions of dollars siphoned off to secret bank accounts. Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), which investigates government corruption, has found irregularities after inspecting 186 Games-related projects, i.e. construction of five stadiums, upgrades of six old ones, and building of a Games village and about 20 training venues.
A CVC report states that "almost all" quotations for the Games have been inflated but still there was, "poor site management, delays and quality compromises and frauds like fake certificates ,tampering with sealed bid documents.” The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Comptroller and Auditor General are scrutinizing 16 Games-related projects for corruption, including contracts to buy overpriced goods. Sports equipment, stadium chairs, air-conditioners, even soap dispensers and umbrellas, were marked up over market prices by an eye-popping 800% to 1,000%.
The CWG paid over Rs. 3 crores without a written contract to a little known firm in the UK—AM Films of Ashish Patel —for cabs and audio-visual services during the Queen's Baton Relay function in London. In defense, Kalmadi said the Indian High Commission recommended the firm. He produced an e-mail from the high commission, which the Ministry of External Affairs said was doctored. As is usual Kalmadi had threatened to sue for defamation but has now piped down. India’s Enforcement Directorate is investigating payments of over Rs. 50 crores to two firms—Switzerland-based Event Knowledge Services and an Australian firm, Sports Marketing and Management.
India has laws against all crimes and evils .In fact too many laws , which cannot or are not implemented or in fact become a means for bribe taking or extortion of money and other corrupt practices by regulatory authorities. All across the Indian polity and the country there are clear signs of the state reverting back to the corrupt and feudal ways of the last days of Mughal empire, i.e. when every job is for sale, emergence of medieval practices of Khapps (Caste councils) ordering killings of couples for marrying against the obscurantist injunctions, continued burning of brides for dowry, or the widespread apartheid like caste system. Outside urban centers the Dalits continue to be maltreated and victims of criminal acts in spite of laws galore.
Were Athens 2004 Olympic Games,
the beginning of the Greek Economic Crisis?
Even at the time of the 2004 Athens Olympic, the Greek media was full of reports of massive corruption i.e., inflation and rigging up of the costs and wrong doings. There appears to be similar pattern in 2010 CWG.
Writing in Aljazeeranet of 10 May 2010 Mark Cochran said that in the biggest multilateral economic bailout ever attempted over the next three years, Greece will receive $146 billion from Euro-zone countries and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to lift the bankrupt country out of its debt crisis. But Greece's fundamental problems remain unresolved: corruption and massive tax avoidance which fuels the black economy. Popular anger is growing because of the tax rises, wage reductions and savage public spending cuts required as part of the Eurozone/IMF deal.
Blaming the Olympics Many Athenians believe their economic downfall began with the 12 billion euros spent hosting the 2004 Olympic games. The world-class sporting facilities now lie largely abandoned.
Costas Balouris, now the corruption watch dog who ran the Athens Olympics Committee said.
"I have seen many assessments of what it takes to make, let's say, a 15,000 seat stadium and I have seen how much it cost Barcelona and Atlanta and how much it was in Sydney and the estimate we used to have in Greece for some of those, it was anywhere between 50 per cent more to four times more," he says.
"So therefore I knew that there was probably a lot of corruption and other things and therefore it cost a hell of a lot more."
There is a saying that Greece is a poor country full of rich people. As the good times rolled through the 1990s and soft loans and grants poured in from the European Union, fashion was just one industry that boomed.
What makes news is how many Porches, Bentleys, Mercedes and Ferrari were sold in Greece. It is the easy money from EU 1980s which created a culture of wheeling and dealing rather than hard work guaranteed wealth. He says that a generation or more of Greeks have been lost to that mentality. (In India, where 70% of population subsists on less than a dollar per day, with India’s neo-liberal policies favoring the rich and the crooks, you have private jets, helipads, yachts and huge mansions costing US$ Two billion).
Tax evasion is now a national sport and fuelling the black economy. "The rich people don't pay taxes. There's an old saying in Greece – the more money you steal the better off you are. If you steal a few euros, a few hundred euros you go to jail ... you steal thousands of euros, we'll talk about it ... you steal a few million euros you become a hero," said Kyriakousis, a taxi driver in Athens. Such people do not understand that consistent hard work, competitiveness, efficiency, and innovation which pays not wheeling and dealing.
War against Governments
Greece's "nonsense bureaucracy" means that in certain instances, 25 people have to vet one piece of paper to get something agreed to and they have to be bribed. Small business permits, even basic services, such as getting a driver’s license or treatment in a public hospital often require an illegal payment called fakelaki.
The government has now announced a range of austerity measures - wages and pensions will be cut, taxes increased and government spending slashed. Public servants face 10 per cent pay cuts and an end to early retirement in their forties. Tens of thousands of Greeks have taken to the street to protest against the government's measures.
India’s Culture of Total Corruption
The Congress led government has stone walled the removal of Kalmadi, though some chinks have appeared. The Congress party General Secretary Digvijay Singh suggested that if there are prima facie charges established by CBI, Kalmadi should resign. But Sports Minister MS Gill defended Kalmadi in the Parliament and stonewalled by suggesting that information could be obtained by using Right to Information (RIT) law leading to a walk out by the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). "Is the RTI more important than Parliament?" asked BJP Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj.
Gill did not cover himself with glory when after retiring from the prestigious constitutional post of Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) of India; he went around and got himself nominated as a Member of Rajya Sabha (Upper House). This sent a wrong signal which the politicians exploit. Like Jimmy Lyngdoh, another CEC, he should have kept away from any position of profit. MS Gill was probably brought in to tackle a strong willed Gill, KPS, who as the Police Chief had eradicated terrorism in Punjab. KPS Gill was entrenched as the Hockey Federation Chief .This battle between Gills has only uncovered the mess in the hockey administration in India, once a top dog in this game.
Incidentally, in recent elections to Rajya Sabha, state legislator, who elect them, had demanded Rs. 50 lakhs (one million is 10 lakhs) to one crore for the vote. Rich industrialists reportedly spend up to Rs. 50 crores to get into the Rajya Sabha. As MPs and ministers, they can easily manipulate the policy and decisions to favor their companies. Indians have little concept of conflict of interest. A striking example is the Reddy brothers of Karnataka who own and mine iron ore and are ministers in the state government. Quite obviously they use their official positions to browbeat any opposition to their schemes or illegal mining and exports as alleged by the Congress members and the media. Similar illegal mining is being done all over India.
Apart from CWG scams, there are other scams like handouts of G-2 telecoms bandwidth, Jharkhand’s ex- chief Minister Koda’s corruption scam running into billions of US dollars, the old Bihar fodder scam and Telgi stamps scam. These are just some tips of the icebergs in India’s vast polluted ocean of corruption. With inordinate delays in dispensation of justice amounting to a denial of justice, along with the power of the corrupt ruling classes , their henchmen officers and a greedy rampant corporate and business community, there seems little hope or relief for the aam aadmi (common man).
There is Something Rotten in the (Judicial) State of Denmark
At a seminar in Chandigarh two years ago on the ‘Responsibility of Judicial System towards the Society’, Supreme Court judge G S Singhvi said that the judicial system had become a business in the eyes of the people. He said that due to the harassment suffered by the common man in his struggle for justice, 95 per cent of the people do not go to courts at all, suffering silently. “Those 5 per cent, who do go, wait in queue for many years, empty their pockets to hire a lawyer. It’s a nightmare for the common man --,” adding that this was the reason people had started taking law in their hands. (The judicial system is therefore openly and brazenly misused by the rich, the politically powerful and the criminals).
Recently in the case of the former Karnataka High Court Chief Justice P D Dinakaran, who was promoted to the Supreme Court had his promotion challenged following confirmation by the Tamil Nadu government of land grabbing allegations against him. Still he has now joined as Chief Justice of the Sikkim High Court.
The collegium, headed by Justice KG Balakrishnan had promoted Justice Dinakaran but leading advocates including F.S. Nariman, Shanti Bhushan, Ashok Desai and Ram Jethmalani had suggested the reconsideration of the decision. Justice Balakrishnan had defended his decision on a TV channel. The Advocates Association of Bangalore Thursday threatened to boycott the court of state Chief Justice Dinakaran in view of the allegations against him. There are many cases of corruption against high court Judges.
Justice Balakrishnan has now taken over as the Chairman of the Human Rights Commission .Quite often retired judges with tainted reputations are routinely used by sly politicians for commissions and enquiries to get the desired opinions.
Central Bureau of Investigation
It is pathetic to see on Parliament TV channels, well fed and opulent opposition members shouting hoarse about the poverty and misery of the people but when in power they are equally venal. When criticized about the pogrom against Muslims in Gujarat under Chief Minister Narendra Modi, his BJP party leaders point to the killings of Sikhs in 1984 after the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her two Sikh body guards. Some justification. It is sickening.
Day in and day out opposition members in the Parliament complain about the misuse of CBI by the government of the day. But all attempts to make CBI an autonomous constitutional body have been thwarted by the political parties themselves. Even measures suggested by the former Chief Justice of India, JS Verma to grant autonomy were throttled. Since forty years, attempts to create and appoint an Ombudsman to look into corruption charges against politicians have been stonewalled by the politicians. The political class is not interested in free and fair investigations and trials. Period.
... Continued to "The Cancer of Abuse of Political Power"