Who does the buck stop with?

India is infected by a disease called ‘passing the buck’

trithesh

Trithesh Nandan | August 19, 2011



The US is facing a major financial crisis. Analysts feel it might even spark a recession. The bond rating agency Standard & Poor lowered Washington’s credit rating down a notch to 'AA+' from the highest AAA level. At the time of crisis the whole US sees a saviour in president Barack Obama. Rather than passing the buck, Obama accepted the blame for the mess displaying exemplary integrity. In a televised interview, Obama said he is accountable for the status of the US economy.

“The buck stops with me,” Obama said. “I’m gonna be accountable,” he told CNN in an interview this week. The message came at a time when he is preparing for a re-election bid in 2012. The politicians in the US have often displayed an evolved form of democratic obligation accepting responsibilities for failures, affairs, scandals, corruptions. This is what makes its democratic system so admirable. In the 1990s, president Bill Clinton first denied and then subsequently accepted having “improper physical relationship” with Monica Lewinsky who was working as an intern at the White House. In 2010, failed presidential candidate John Edwards admitted fathering a child with a mistress. Former house majority leader Tom DeLay was sentenced in 2011 for three years of prison on charges of money laundering.

Contrast this with India, the world’s largest democracy. Here politicians routinely disown glaring failures, even in the face of incontrovertible evidence. They often hide their failures and leech themselves on to their positions of power despite being charged of multiple wrongdoings. In the 64 years since independence, barring a few, none of the Indian politicians has accepted blame for any charge levelled at them - from corruption scandals to misdemeanours to crimes as heinous as rape and murder. UPA II leaders have been put in the dock in several scams like 2G spectrum allocation, CWG and Adarsh housing. But no politician accused in these scams resigned voluntarily. It was only after media pressure and stinging observations by the supreme court that the Congress and allies chose to act. After repeated proclamations of innocence, A Raja, Kanimozhi and Suresh Kalmadi are in Tihar Jail.

Prime minister Manmohan Singh and his office have not been spared of such charges. Singh might be an erudite, honest man and a well-known economist who initiated economic reforms and took the country out of a financial morass in the 1990s but what makes him so feeble is that he continually passes the buck when questions about his will to contain corruption and act against the corrupt arise. It has intrigued the common man, media, opposition parties and even the protesters who are currently fighting for a stronger Lokpal bill. The million dollar question remains whether Singh will ever mouth a “mea culpa” like his friend Obama.

Singh has made some of the weakest statements when the talk has centred on containing corruption. Recently he said in parliament, “I don't have a magic wand to deal with corruption.” No, Mr prime minister, you don’t need one. Keeping Raja in the cabinet despite demands for his ouster, the prime minister said his hand was forced by ‘coalition dharma’. Raja was jailed in February.

He sought to discredit the people’s frustrations with corruption when he alluded to “unseen forces” being behind Anna Hazare and the protests in his support.

Even in the case of inflation, the best that economist prime minister could come up with was, “I have no control over these variables, and no magic wand to reduce prices when international commodity prices are rising.”

Such responses only put him in poor light. The conclusion which can be drawn from this is that India is infected by a disease called ‘passing the buck’. That is why US is placed at no. 18 on the Transparency International list of countries by levels of corruption while India is ranked 87.

No wonder the leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, replied to the PM’s weak excuses on Wednesday in parliament saying, “You don't need a magic wand to fight corruption, all you need is a political will.”

Former US president Harry Truman had a plaque on his office desk that read “The Buck Stops Here!’.

Obama has said as much.

Will Manmohan Singh stand up and proclaim the same or will his desk plaque continue to read, “The buck stops with BJP, RSS, coalition dharma, media, CAG, Anna Hazare, civil society, foreign hand, protestors on the street?”
 

Comments

 

Other News

NITI Aayog rolls out three year action agenda

 Even as a vision and a strategy agenda is in "advanced stages" of finalisation at NITI Aayog, the government think tank has released a draft three year action agenda for public consultation.  The draft action agenda, divided in seven parts and 24 chapters, proposes to reduce

It’s a cause of worry, says NHRC on killing of 25 CRPF troopers

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Tuesday said it was “disturbed” over the killing of 25 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel by Naxalites in Chhattisgarh on April 24. The troopers were attacked while on duty for securing road construction work in the Bur

99% complaints filed through Twitter resolved: BSNL

 Twitter Sewa unveiled by the ministry of telecommunications last year to resolve users’ complaints through micro blogging site Twitter has yielded fruitful results by resolving 99 percent of the complaints.   According to BSNL data, as on April 15, 2017, it has receiv

People of Delhi now hate Kejriwal: Vijay Goel

What is your perception about Arvind Kejriwal’s brand of politics?   In Delhi, after the BJP and the Congress, people wanted to give the Aam Aadmi Party a chance. However, after the Delhi assembly polls, his (Kejriwal`s) political fortune has been on the declin

BHEL’s biggest foreign power project takes off in Bangladesh

Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited’s biggest export order, valued at Rs 10,000 crore for setting up 1,320 MW Maitree thermal power project in Bangladesh has taken-off following the issuance of the ‘notice to proceed’ by the developer.   BHEL said that it won a

For a free and open access

Mozilla is working on two separate goals in net neutrality. One is to bring everyone online; ensure that everyone has access to the internet. The other is to ensure that the network should remain open and diverse. We want people to have access to the whole diversity of the internet and not just in



Video

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter