In search of moral compass

What we don’t talk about when we talk about coal scam and IPL scandal


Shailesh Gandhi | July 9, 2013

There are two events which have occupied the attention of the nation of late. In both cases, I felt we have not focused on the real issues.

Something that I feel most concerned about in the coal block scam is that the concept of checks and balances is missing. Why do we have a series of people at all as the checks of the system? The assumption is that if someone makes a mistake somebody else will correct it. In this case we see that nobody corrects anyone. Whether the PM told Ashwani Kumar to look at the CBI report or not is open to question. Supposing the PM did so, Ashwani Kumar as a cabinet minister should have had the wherewithal to say that it is not correct.

Assuming the minister made a mistake, what do we have the advocate general (AG) for? And a very high constitutional authority, additional solicitor general (ASG) Harin Raval, in his letter to AG Goolam Vahanvati said he was present in the meeting when the report was shown to the minister and others.

Let us assume Vahanvati made a mistake. Should the ASG not have protested? If ASG didn’t, should not the CBI director refuse to toe the line? All of them are high functionaries. And then Raval writes to Vahanvati that since the AG lied before the supreme court, he too lied!

At the highest level, it seems, everyone blames someone else and evades responsibility. They meekly follow wrong orders like sheep, bleating ‘yes sir, yes sir’. They appear to have no moral compass of their own. It is very clear that that the AG and the ASG lied to the supreme court. Lying on affidavits and misleading the courts has become a routine matter and nobody is worried about it.

If all these people have failed so brazenly, should we not expect the supreme court to ask them to explain their actions and threaten them with dire consequences for misleading the court? It does not appear to have given indication of initiating any action against the two ‘officers of the court’ or the CBI director.

Instead of euphemistically calling this an institutional failure, we should recognise that the whole set of people at the top are failing. We are selecting people in a shoddy manner. We talk of individual corruption but are unwilling to act.

It pains me that nobody has even raised this issue; the entire concern was about the fate of Ashwani Kumar. With his resignation, the matter is out of the attention span of the nation.

The institutions these people represent are fundamental building blocks of our society. A nation has to set an example that if you lie you have to pay for it. But this is not a priority concern in the country. If media and citizens made it their agenda, collective improvement may come about.

The other issue is the IPL spot-fixing scandal. It is a matter of great concern that there is probably a Dawood Ibrahim link. There are reports of Rs 40,000 crore being involved in illegal betting. But the media has not focused on the possibility of terror funding and black money. That is mentioned only in passing.
Then there is a demand to legalise betting, just like the demand that illegal buildings should be legalised. Maybe we should allow everyone to do whatever they wish to: then nothing will be illegal! Do we even have a concept of the rule of law?

We talk of black money and corruption independently. But here is something which is meant to be concern number one, and yet does not seem to be anyone’s concern. The major concern should be the large amount of illegal terror funding. But our key concern is who fixed which matches. Is that really a matter of great national importance?

We must start looking at morality as a requirement on which we will not compromise. We need to be concerned about our failure to address the key issues of moral and legal failures in the Coalgate by our top functionaries. We need to discuss the aspects of terror funding and lack of respect for laws in the spot-fixing scandal. There are enough people available who are honest and will efficiently deliver. We need to find a way to place them where they can matter. But firstly, let us focus on the issues that matter.



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