Tuesday, August 28, 2012
THE COAL SCAM AND THE SCANDAL OF GOVERNANCE IN INDIA
A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books The 2 G Spectrum scan is still hanging like a cloud around the Congress led UPA Government and it has already claimed the heads of 2 central minister--Dayanidhi Maran and A Raja--both of whom belonged to a regional political party, the DMK. In Indian politics there is no such thing as a single author scam. It is very obvious that the highest summits of the political system which includes Sonia Gandhi and Man Mohan Singh had a hand in the scam but were clever enough to ensure that lesser mortal took the rap for it. Th coal scam is almost identical in its modus operandi, and the Congress Government is trying its best to wriggles out of the ever tightening noose around its neck. With 2 scandals with a net loss of nearly 20% of the GDP of the country, there will be a lot of froth flying thick everywhere. The problem with the UPA Government like the Bourbons of France is that they forget nothing and they learn nothing. From the 2 G Spectrum Scandal they must have learn that the auction route is the best way of allocating scare resources and ensure a hefty return to the state exchequer. However since political gratification is the objective, the UPA allocated 57 coal blocks in an arbitrary and non transparent. In the 2G Specrum Scam, A Raja could be sent to jail as he was a minister from a regional party and a dalit to boot. In the case of the Coal Scam the ministry was headed by the Prime Minister himself who retained the ministry under his direct charge. Now that the scandal has surfaced the Congress Party is trying its best to protect the Prime Minister and others who were involved in the decision making process. India has large reserves of coal and the state exchequer would have got nearly 15 billion US dollars had the auction route been taken. Instead prime coal mines were allocated to private parties which included Tata Power, Tata Steel,Essar Power Generation,Jindal Steel and many other power generating companies or steel plants. The criteria on which this allocation was made has not been spelled out. In the case of the 2 G Spectrum at least there was a fig leaf of objectivity in that the allocation was done on the basis of the first come first served basis. Even this lame defence is not available for the coal scam. As per the norms and procedure of the Government of India, the file for such major decisions has to be signed by the cabinet minister and only then it becomes operational. In the case of the Coal Scam the files were all signed by the Prime Minister in his capacity as the Coal Minister and hence he cannot now evade responsibility or accountability. The mines which were allotted to private parties are the most lucrative ones since they are all open mines and do not require too heavy an investment in infrastructure. The Comptroller and Auditor General of India in his Report submitted to Parliament has clearly stated that gross irregularities in procedure had taken plce causing a net loss of 1.86 lakh crores ruppees to the treasury of the people of INdia. The kind of Governance we have in India under the uPA aims at enriching the private players at the cost of the Government and obviously huge kick backs play a role in the formulation of such skewered policies. The principle opposition party the BJP has raised the issue in the highest democratic forum of the country, the LOK SABHA. Instead of answering the questions raised, the Prime Minster is indulg ing in cheap gimmicks when he stated in his defence that this was done to favor the opposition ruled states. It is only an accident that the coal rich states are presently under the BJP and the Congress is not known to have concern for anyone or institution except its "royal" dynasty. The coal ministry bureaucrats suggested public auction as the best method for pricing the coal blocks but it was blocked by the Prime Minster, just as was done in the case of the 2G Spectrum pricing. The effort now currently underway to amde the NDA responsible for the policy is untenable because the policy change was initiated only after the UPA GOvernment was formed in 2004. The Scandals which have undermined the present government will have their impact in the next election. The anti corruption movement led by Baba Ramdev is likely to create enough impact to tilt the balance in favor of the bJP in the next election. The 2014 elections can only be lost by the BJP due to political mismanagement and factionalism.