Feb 29, 2024
Feb 29, 2024
Readers of these columns should not be surprised that the CBI has found Mr. Suresh Kalmadi blameless in the Queen’s Baton Relay (QBR) scam. This was anticipated. Indeed, it was foretold. This particular event of the Commonwealth Games took centre stage after British media reported the Queen’s displeasure over alleged corruption related to the Queen’s Baton Relay which was launched jointly by the Queen and President Pratibha Patel from London. Mr. Kalmadi’s name figured prominently in the FIR lodged by the police. However, in the charge sheet filed by the CBI last Friday he is not even mentioned.
After details about the scam surfaced in the Indian media Mr. Kalmadi had said that he would resign if Mrs. Sonia Gandhi asked him to. This was an odd statement since Mrs. Gandhi was neither in the government nor in any way connected with the Commonwealth Games. Was Mr. Kalmadi daring Mrs. Gandhi to ask for his expulsion? Understandably, having no official connection with the event, Mrs. Gandhi did not react. But apart from that Mr. Kalmadi did even stranger things.
It might be recalled that the corruption related to QBR involved awarding the contract to supply vehicles for the QBR to an obscure British firm, AM Films, headed by a certain Mr. Patel. The rates charged and the payments made raised questions. Who recommended this firm to Mr. Kalmadi? He said it was Mr. Raju Sebastian, a junior employee of the Indian High Commission in London . Mr. Kalmadi prominently displayed the letter to him from Mr. Sebastian on TV to claim that it was the Indian High Commission that had recommended AM Films for the contract. The Indian High Commission promptly denied this claim. It described Mr. Sebastian being too junior as authority to make any such recommendation.
The official heading the CWG probe was queried by this writer about Mr. Kalmadi’s display of letter and reference to Mr. Sebastian. The official responded by revealing that the matter had been checked and the letter was a forgery.
He completely missed the point. The authenticity or otherwise of the letter was irrelevant. Why was it displayed at all? Was Mr. Kalmadi sending a veiled threat to someone? Surely he needed to be asked why he displayed a purportedly forged letter involving a very junior High Commission official so prominently on TV. That has not been done to this day.
Among his duties Mr. Raju Sebastian received and escorted VIPs visiting London. He performed this duty with members of the Gandhi dynasty during their frequent visits to London. Although a junior employee, Mr. Sebastian had access to VIPs and conceivably could have won their trust. Therefore the display of letter on TV by Mr. Kalmadi and his false claim contradicted by our High Commission in London that he had been authorized by it through Mr. Sebastian to award the contract to AM Films certainly merited questioning. That was never done.
It was asked in these columns on October 8, 2010: “There is no doubt that the QBR corruption trail leads to Kalmadi. But does the trail end with Kalmadi or does it proceed further in the government?”
That question remains unanswered. Today Mr. Kalmadi walks free.
Questions for Mr. Kalmadi
Kalmadi Must Clarify!
More by : Dr. Rajinder Puri
|Sir, I suggest a Ministry of Event Management, who will manage all events, like national and international games, any Government function, national and international, which will use all modern management techniques to accomplish the tasks in time. I am reminded of a time when T N Seshan in his peak of charisma promised with flourish that he will make available voter id cards in only a few months. Actually it took years. I wondered, though a mathematician by training how could he forget his basic arithmetic? Probably administrative flourish is a different ball game. I do not know whether Kalmadi ji is guilty or not, but Kalmadi as a sports administrator has always been in our eyes. Regardless of blotches that the Commonwealth Games was successfully held, I personally wish he is pardoned. Maybe, if he has committed irregularities, he may be kept in the sideline say for a decade. But jailing a person who successfully managed CWG will pain me, being a citizen of India. I shall only assume, there are wiser people than me who will take all these things in stride and do right things for the people of India.
|The medi a today plays the role of Yudhishthir who inform in the battlefield: Ashwatthaamaa hat iti Gaj. When media informs, the context is generally incomplete. There is a furrore. When all issues are laid bare finally, dust settle and people loose interest.But they have formed and recorded an idea. Sab chor hai. What media finally does is. Sab chor hai to mai akela bachaa rahu to kya faaydaa! Now my question is if everbody is a cheat, who gains. So as well everybody be honest. An Anna can do nothing. Probably some safron robe wallah like Ramdeb can do something. But Rajinder Puri ji, tis country still has honest people by the millions. A Gandhi had come and gone. Anna will go. Some multitude of millions will still chart clear the course of this Nation. CBI or no CBI. CAG or no CAG. Let us not call every senior leader a CHOR. That will be smearing our own face. Average people speak without knowledge of the nitty-gritty of managing the country and usually quote second and third hand. Let us do good and also please paint a picture that it is good that is being attempted every time. Night soil should be shed in private. Let us not make the whole country a dhobi-ghat. Respects to you Rajinder Puri ji, one of India's most notable cartoonists who always penned cartoon with bold strokes. Thank you and best wishes Sir.
|When I wrote the rejoinder after your reply, I wrote in a hurry, much agitated. I got apprehensive of my hypertension. I took a sedative and went to sleep. My reverie has just been broken and I would like to add a few more lines. First, I would like you to ponder over the following tidbits. What has happened to three non-aligned countries of yore? To name, India, Yogoslavia, and Egypt? Second, why defence purchases the world over are through agents? Sir, I believe you are better informed and therefore will correct me if this piece of information is wrong. In a capitalist model of outsourcing, which is nothing but whole sale 'thekedar-raj`, the vtrickle-down effect is paltry, far below minimum wages and the upper you go profits telescope, the cut-money model. This thekedar-raj cut money model is the source of corruption.
I give you an interesting anecdote. While I consider an Anna phenomenon is a interesting natural social dynamism, one of my coleagues asked a scooterwallh in Delhi who was raising slogan for Anna: Do you have all the requisite papers to run your scooter? The scooterwalla said: No! You may be hauled up for this, isn't it? What will you do then? Sir, I shall offer a hundred rupees to come out of the situation. Then my coleague said: Then, how do you raise slogans for Anna? The scooterwallah had no answer. Tell me Sir, Delhi is full of squatters who actually run the city. Bangladesh rickshawwalla, household Bengali workers (some are Bangladeshi who once in a while get betrayed by uttering Pani for Jal), thelawallahs seling subzi, all kinds of artisans from Odisha, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajastan and several other states, Nepali multifarious work force, Nepali Bhutani momo sellers. One can just go on and on. Can or should we get rid of them? Today, the biggest mafia is the building mafia. Land is taken over reducing farmland.Exhorbitant costs of properties is drivinng inflation up. Reduced farmland results in reduced agricultural production, pushing up prices. The whole supply chain runs on cut money. The demon hides in every mustard. Tell me Rajinder Puri ji, when any first come first served policy is adopted, were everybody in the know were not expecting a later finger pointing? Things are far too complecated Sir for a simplistic solution. Further, Sir, what is point of India coping affluent nation's model of sports when it needs attention in better living conditions, health facilities, earning avenues. I do not blame a Kalmadi, our political leadership for they are projected up from us. If Gandhiji had inspired us, we should all be wearing Khaddar. Thank you, Sir, for the time-being.
|I share your concern Sir. But tell me what we have been able to do with all the concerns. Take the history of Indian independence. Who did the British leave the leadership to? The safer hands! And what the country got in return? Partition of Bengal and Punjab. Nehruji followed non-alignment. And what the country got in return? A Pakistan. And what freight equalisation of Nehruvian economy gave India. Marginalisation of States like Bengal, Bihar, Odisha. From the time of Narasimha ji, the country has walked away from Nehruvian economy. Globalisation of economy has brought in multinationals, which has resulted in raising of salaries of Goverment servants resulting in penury of the State economies. Tell me why should India spend so much on cricket and other sports when more than half of our population are imoverished? Rajinder Puri ji let us think anew. Are most of us not living on cut money. I am not a cynic. At the same time my wildest imagination does not give me hope that India's middleclass, the most hypocrite of the lot, will not take us out of the mire.
|Sharbaniranjan ji, why did CWG organizers require things urgently? They were preparing for the event for years and they knew it would be held years earlier. The questions raised in the article are not about the pricing or the case, but the manner in which it is being covered up to protect higher-ups. Are you implying that to work honetly without "pocketing anything" should be expected only from messiahs and not from every decent human being? If this is your belief, I am sorry -- I do not share this cynical approach. It is easy to blame Kalmadi -- but why do people lose their tongues when it comes to questioning higher leaders?
|Rajinder Puri ji, I have a great respect for you. I would like to put you some questions to ponder over. Tell me, what an average citizen would do when (s)he requires a thing urgently. Does (s)he go enquiring to get the lowest price?
(2) Can we expect mesiahs in hordes working for the society selflessly without pocketing anything? (3) How can one balance lowest quotation and best quality work? If you can crack these psycho-socio-economico-phylosophical hard nuts, I am sure you will be a mesiah. But tell me Rajinder Puri ji which mesiah has solved such human problems for all time?