It won’t be an exaggeration to say that today’s episode of Satyamev Jayate was one of the best episodes so far. Very lively, very relevant, very real, very close to our everyday experiences! If I may say, Aamir has improved. He has brought lots of storytelling, narration of interesting anecdotes and laughter into the show.
Today’s episode was on corruption scandals of our country. Once there was a master. He asked his servant to serve him a liter of milk every day. The servant started drinking 250 grams of milk himself and adding 250 grams of water in the milk of the master. The master kept employing more and more servants for vigilance. In the end, the servants used to smear cream on master’s face when he was asleep and say we’ve served you milk. The master got no milk but the servants had the proof that they’d served the milk. This is the story of the Indian public.
Most of the Indians don’t realize that they pay taxes from morning to night. Every bill, cell recharge, every single purchase takes taxes from us. In fact 67% tax comes from these indirect sources. Only 33% of tax comes from direct taxes like the income tax and professional tax. We must think for a moment when every morning we laugh at scams and scam esters with a sip of tea and a newspaper in hand. It’s not laughable at all. It’s our wealth. It’s our hard earned money that these scoundrels are looting. It’s not easy to estimate the total wealth of India. Only hydrocarbon reserves and minerals come to a whopping five thousand lakh crore rupees. Every Indian has a wealth of forty lakh rupees. If the whole wealth of the nation were to be estimated all of us would be owners of at least a crore of rupees!
The country is rich; the people are stark poor! Our precious reservoirs of iron ore, minerals and forest wealth are being looted. It’s not greed; it’s devilishness. Justice Santosh Hegde had probed the Bellary Mining Scam. He said that those who didn’t have a house now own helicopters, airplanes, private air strips, gold and diamond thrones! Three Chief Ministers, nine ministers, fourteen IAS officers and overall about eight hundred officers were involved in this scam. In a way, the whole administration was involved in the scandal. The Bellary scam was estimated at sixteen thousand crore. 2G, Commonwealth, medical entrance… the list is endless. This is when only one or two scans out of a hundred come out in public light. In 1987, the late Prime Minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi had said that 85% of money spent on public welfare schemes goes into private pockets. Today the % might have gone to 99%.
We must pause and think. We’re losing basic humanity. Justice Hegde told a real story where a young woman delivered her baby at a public spot because the hospitals refused to take her in. Today only those are honest who could not get an opportunity to make dirty money. If n officer labels another officer as corrupt, the former one naturally retorts, ‘You too are corrupt!’ We have lost the faith that people can be honest. The older generation has failed India; only the new generation can save our motherland.
Shankar Singh, an RTI activist told an interesting tale. Once a king punished a person, ‘You either eat 100 onions in a row or get 100 boots in a row’. The poor person first chose onions and then boots and then onions and then boots… The Indian public eats onions for 5 years and then boots for 5 years and then again onions and then boots and … It goes on.
Right to Information is a potent tool against corruption. 2005 was an important year for the anti corruption movement. Now anyone can have access to government documents. The labor can see the muster roll, the pay slip. If the officer is honest, there can be no worry of blackmail. Grievance Redress Act must come now. It’s RTI part 2. Every complaint must be addressed within 21 days or the officer will have to pay the penalty.
In Andhra Pradesh, social audit is functioning in an exemplary manner. The complaints are solved in public hearings. Soumya Kidambi is heading this social audit. She says that public insult is a strong deterrent against corruption. Immediate recovery is done at the locality level before everyone’s eyes. Three thousand corrupt government employees have been terminated; five thousand have been punished. But the very same social audit which is working wonders in AP, was vehemently opposed in Rajasthan. Without political and administrative will, nothing can be done.
Soumya narrated a real story of a labor in Rajasthan. After a day’s work, she was once having a chapatti with a poor woman in her house. She saw that the woman had placed dots in a strip near her hearth. Those dots were the days she and her husband had worked as labors in a government scheme. She was waiting for that money for 4 years. She was very hopeful that she would get her money. She believed that the sarpanch and gramsevak were very good and they’d give her due money back. It is with this kind of undying hope that the poor of this country live. Her husband died; then she too died; she never got her legitimate wage!
It is as though some of our politicians and some of our officers are plucking parts of a dead body like vultures and wolves. They’re looting those who don’t even have a chapatti.
Power must be decentralized. It’s people of a locality or a village who should decide where the public money has to be spent. Policies and projects must never come from above. Kerala is a living example of decentralization of power. Shailesh Gandhi, ex Information Commissioner of India spoke very aptly, ‘My India is not great but I’m personally responsible for it’. We’re searching for a savior. Some Rahul, some Narendra, some Arvind will come and salvage us. It won’t happen. Continuous vigilance is the price of democracy. We can’t afford to be indifferent, lazy or thick skinned. It’s our country. It’s the future of our children. We can’t say that India can’t be improved. Aruna Roy gave a very positive note when she said that children of India will save her; every one of us will save her. We worship out of faith; we must do something for the country out of faith. We mustn’t expect immediately. We must nurture a cause like a mother. This is our country. We’re responsible for her condition.
The concluding song was vibrant, rhythmic and very meaningful.