This email that I received today was a bit chaotic but its message is worth disseminating widely. Hence I'm publishing it on this blog.
I'm not sure what mere protesting will achieve (in my view there needs to be clarity regarding next steps – which RTI activists simply don't have), but if you have not yet got involved in FTI – and started preparing for serious change (not just protest), then at least start getting involved in such basic things.
From: Dharma Sanatana
Date: Wed, Jan 26, 2011 at 11:04 PM
Subject: [GHHF & SIFC] Rallies against corruption in India in US cities, DC and NYC on 29th and LA on 30th; Satya Dospati's Video on Corruption
One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. ~ Plato
India now is witnessing not mere corruption, but national plunder.
–Brahma Challeny, The Hindu, Dec 6, 2010
We request all of you to take active part in this monumental movement to free India from the rampant corruption. We your support to participate in rallies being organized in in US, India and around the world on the plunder of India (estimated to be up to 1.3 trillion dollars). The recent 40 billion dollar 2G scam and 13 billion dollar CVG scam has created uproar in the country with Supreme Court itself calling the ongoing loot as 'plunder'. What we are talking is not the usual problem of corruption, but the threat to very existence of India as a nation
(See Brahma Challaney article in 'The Hindu' paper as well as other BBC etc articles below).
India Against Corruption (http://IndiaAgainstCorruption.org ) supported by leading activists/experts across the country are holding the massive rallies. Arvind Kejriwal, an IIT Alumnus, a winner of Ramon Magsasay award, RTI activist is leading this battle with other activists. They are withstanding police beatings in their struggle and are fighting for implementation of bills with teeth that will address the issue of corruption effectively. They are holding rallies around US Cities at about the same time rallies are held in many cities in India.
VIDEO ON CORRUPTION Prepared by Satya Dosapati
Please spend few minutes on video below and see what is going on:
Rallies are held at following cities with contact information:
1) Los Angeles Artesia,
Sunday, Jan 30, 7:30 AM – 10:30 AM, — Sri Atluri, srihari.a1 AT gmail.com
2) Washington DC, College Park, University Of Maryland,
Saturday, Jan 29th, 4 PM – 6PM, — Somu Kumar, somukumar AT gmail.com, 703-728-8987
3) New York, Union Square Gandhi Statue,
Saturday, Jan 29th, 11AM – 1PM, — Atul, atultech AT gmail.com, 1 203 987 4452
What is at stake and why you should participate in the rallies?
While 80% of India's 1.2 billion live in poverty (earning less than 2$ per day) and 10% do not know where they will get next meal on one side, on the other side it is estimated that 1.5 trillion dollars was stashed away in foreign havens. If that money brought back to India, every one of 1.2 billion people will get 1 lakh rupees each. The corruption affects every single person, it shows in poor infrastructure, it shows in the money paid for any Government work done, it shows in the lawlessness and Goonda raj.
It is more worse. This lack of development is fueling Maoist insurgency that has affected 1/3 rd of the country. The military purchase kickbacks and shoddy equipment is weakening India's military so much that India today cannot withstand wars with its neighbors. Thecountry's mineral wealth worth trillions that belongs to all citizens is looted to the hilt by select few. Even the donations of devotees (Hindu and Jain) at their worship places is not spared.
All the development being talked about in India is helping only 13-15% of the people, leaving behind a sea of humanity impoverished. In summary, corruption impoverishing people, stunting development, causing insurgency and weakening the ability of country to defend itself and eventually will destroy the nation.
What is the scale of scandals? Just last few months, the 2G scam worth 1.73 lakh crore rupees (40 billion dollars ) and the CVG (commonwealth games) scam is 60,000 crore rupees (13 billion dollars). Every day it is getting more audacious, more ruthless. According to Transparency International India ranks among worst in corruption, it stands same as impoverished African nations.
It is time to put a stop to this. It is time to get the looted funds back. It is time for India to remove the oppressive barriers to India's genius which until 1700's held 25% of World's GDP. This genius is suppressed today with a small percentage of ruthlessly corrupt people.
Satya for Save India From Corruption
V. V. Prakasa Rao (GHHF) 601-918-7111
BBC Report on India illegal Capital Flow (conservative estimate)
India has lost more than $460bn since Independence because of companies and the rich illegally funnelling their wealth overseas, a new report says.
The illegal flight of capital through tax evasion, crime and corruption had widened inequality in India, it said.
According to the report from US-based group Global Financial Integrity, the illicit outflows of money increased after economic reforms began in 1991.
Many also accuse governments and politicians of corruption in India.
Global Financial Integrity, which is based in Washington, studies and campaigns against the cross-border flow of illegal money around the world.
It said that the "poor state of governance" had been reflected in a growing underground economy in India since Independence in 1947.
Global Financial Integrity director Raymond Baker said the report "puts into stark terms the financial cost of tax evasion, corruption, and other illicit financial practices in India".
Some the main findings of the report are:
- India lost a total of $462bn in illegal capital flows between 1948, a year after Independence, and 2008.
- The flows are more than twice India's external debt of $230bn.
- Total capital flight out of India represents some 16.6% of its GDP.
- Some 68% of India's capital loss has happened since the economy opened up in 1991.
- "High net-worth individuals" and private companies were found to be primary drivers of illegal capital flows.
- The share of money Indian companies moved from developed country banks to "offshore financial centres" (OFCs) increased from 36.4% in 1995 to 54.2% in 2009.
The report's author, Dev Kar, a former International Monetary Fund economist, said that almost three quarters of the illegal money that comprises India's underground economy ends up outside the country.
India's underground economy has been estimated to account for 50% of the country's GDP – $640bn at the end of 2008.
Mr Kar used a World Bank model to calculate India's missing billions.
He compared India's recorded sources of funds, such as foreign direct investment and borrowing, and its recorded use of funds, like foreign currency reserves and deficit financing.
Illegal outflows are considered to exist when funds recorded exceed those used. India's exports and imports over the past six decades were also taken into account.
Adjusted for inflation, that all added up to $213bn missing since 1948. Taking estimated investment returns into account, Mr Kar calculated that was worth $462bn in today's money.
The figure could be much more, he warned, as it did not include smuggling and cash transfers outside the financial system.
Indo Asian News Service, 1.76 Lakh crores (40 billions dollars) loss in recent 2G scam
- Raja ignored PM advice on 2G, cost Rs.1.76 lakh crore: Auditor
posted 2 mnths ago – by sulekha news
| 24 Views | View Source: Indo Asian News Service
New Delhi, Nov 16 (IANS) In the most serious indictment on the 2G-spectrum scam, India's official auditor Tuesday said former communications minister A. Raja even ignored Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's advice and allotted radio frequency to new telecom players at low prices, resulting in a huge revenue loss of Rs.1.76 lakh crore (nearly $40 billion).
In a 96-page report, including annexures tabled in parliament, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) said the presumptive loss to the exchequer through spectrum allocation to 122 licencees and 35 dual technology licences in 2007-08 was Rs.1,76,645 crore.
'The entire process of spectrum allocation was undertaken in an arbitrary manner,' said the report, adding the loss was arrived at on the basis of the 3G auction earlier this year that fetched the government Rs.67,500 crore (around $15 billion).
The report was tabled in the Lok Sabha by Minister of State for Finance S.S. Palanimanickam, who belongs to Raja's party DMK. In the Rajya Sabha, it was tabled by his colleague Minister of State for Finance Namo Narayan Meena.
The audit report, also sought to give a clean chit to the ministries of finance and law and justice — as also the Prime Minister's Office — saying the telecom minister had brushed aside their advice as well.
'The entire process of allocation of unified access service licences lacked transparency and was undertaken in an arbitrary, unfair and inequitable manner,' said the damning report that was brushed aside later by Raja, who continued to say he had done no wrong.
'The prime minister had stressed on the need for a fair and transparent allocation of spectrum, and the ministry of finance had sought for the decision regarding spectrum pricing to be considered by an empowered group of ministers,' said the report.
'Brushing aside their concerns and advices, the Department of Telecommunications in 2008 proceeded to issue 122 new licences for 2G spectrum at 2001 prices, by flouting every cannon of financial propriety, rules and procedures.'
At a press conference later, when Deputy Comptroller and Auditor General Lekha Gupta was asked on what basis the various ministries, the prime minister and the federal cabinet as a whole were absolved, she said there was no such attempt.
'We have not given a clean chit to anybody. We have only based our report on the basis of documents at our disposal,' Gupta said, adding even the cut-off date for receipt of applications was advanced arbitrarily.
Raja, who resigned Sunday in the wake of the controversy, said the government's stand was spelt out in an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court, which was hearing the matter, and that he could not comment any further as the case was sub judice.
'Let the law take its course. I have put up my defence before the Supreme Court. My conscience is clear,' he said, adding: 'I did everything according to the recommendations by the telecom regulator.'
After adamantly refusing to resign, Raja quit the cabinet late Sunday night over the 2G spectrum controversy, ending an opposition-Congress standoff that, however, continues to paralyse parliament.
Even two days after Raja's resignation, the opposition continued to demand a probe by a joint parliamentary committee, resulting in the adjournment of both houses of parliament Monday and on several occassions a day later.
The government, so far, has rejected the opposition demand.
Perils of becoming a republic of scandals
India now is witnessing not mere corruption but national plunder.
The Hindu India’s situation is best explained by an ancient proverb, “A fish rots from the head down.” When the head is putrid, the body politic cannot be healthy. And when those at the helm remain wedded to grand corruption, clerks or traffic police cannot be singled out for taking small bribes.
Corruption, No. 1 national security threat, is eating into the vitals of the state, enfeebling internal security and crimping foreign policy.
India confronts several pressing national security threats. But only one of them – political corruption – poses an existential threat to the state, which in reality has degenerated into a republic of mega-scandals. The pervasive misuse of public office for private gain is an evil, eating into the vitals of the state, sapping India’s strength. When important decisions, from arms procurement to policy changes, are often tainted by corrupt considerations, it is inevitable that national security will get compromised. If India today is widely seen as a soft state, much of the blame must be pinned on the corrupt and the compromised that lead it. Such ‘softening’ of India has made the country a tempting target for those seeking to undermine its security.
India’s situation is best explained by an ancient proverb, “A fish rots from the head down.” When the head is putrid, the body politic cannot be healthy. And when those at the helm remain wedded to grand corruption, clerks or traffic police cannot be singled out for taking small bribes. In fact, it is the self-perpetuating cycle of corruption at all government levels – federal, State and local – that has turned internal security into India’s Achilles heel. As the then Chief Justice of India pointed out last year, the plastic explosives employed in the deadly 1993 Mumbai bombings had been smuggled into the country due to local corrupt practices.
But it is the institutionalised corruption in high office that is eviscerating the republic. When domestic policy is seriously stained by corruption, foreign policy can hardly be dynamic and proactive.
Such is the weakening of the state that India did a better job warding off regional security threats when it was economically weak – like during Indira Gandhi’s reign – than it is able to do today, despite nearly two decades of impressive GDP growth. Economic liberalisation, paradoxically, has whetted personal greed and brought in an era of big-bucks corruption, even as a system of arbitrary environmental stoppages and clearances has taken the place of the old “licence-permit raj.”
India now is witnessing not mere corruption but national plunder. The consequence is that it is getting feebler institutionally. Yet scandals remain so recurrent that public ire over any malfeasance is short-lived.
Indeed, one strategy often employed to ease public anger over revelations of a new mega-scandal is to start targeting second-tier corruption selectively. The misuse of government agencies remains rampant.
Corruption scandals now actually resemble television soaps, with engrossing but diversionary plots. To deflect public attention, the focus in the immediate aftermath is always on government processes related to probing a scandal, not on opening judicial paths to identify the real beneficiaries and quickly recover the loot. The latest scandal over the government’s allotment of second-generation telecom spectrum in 2008 falls in the same category, although the putative loss to the national treasury has been estimated at $39 billion, or 14.3 per cent of India’s total current external debt. The sheer scale of this kickback scandal indicates that multiple political interests must have had a hand in the till. If there is any good news, it is the belated appointment of a clean professional as Telecom Minister.
Make no mistake: The spiriting away of billions of dollars to international financial safe havens constitutes more than criminal wrongdoing. When economic contracts are signed or policy decisions taken so as to net handsome kickbacks, it constitutes a flagrant assault on the national interest. India ranks among the top countries whose stolen national wealth is stashed away in Swiss bank accounts. Yet no Indian politician has ever been convicted and hanged for waging such war on the state.
Let’s be clear: Corruption stalls development, undermines social progress, undercuts the confidence of citizens in the fairness and impartiality of public administration, impedes good governance, erodes the rule of law, distorts competitive conditions in business transactions, discourages domestic and foreign investment, fosters a black market economy, and raises new security threats. In sum, corruption obstructs a country from realising its goals and undercuts national security.
The cancer of corruption in India has alarmingly spread to elements within the two institutions that are central to the country’s future – the judiciary and the armed forces. Recent revelations have highlighted the deep corporate penetration of the major political parties and the manner big business influences policymaking and media coverage. The rot in the media – the nation’s supposed watchdog – stands exposed. In fact, even the integrity of the national Padma awards has been badly vitiated.
But nothing illustrates the corrosive effects of the culture of corruption better than the palpable decay of state capacity. India’s economic dynamism is rooted in its private sector-led growth. But in stark contrast to China, India does poorly wherever the state is involved. The deterioration of the state is the principal constraint on India’s ability to secure its interests. That underscores the national-security costs of widespread corruption.
Today, a self-advertised “incredible India” has no articulated national security strategy, or a defined defence policy, or a declared counterterrorism doctrine, yet it is the only large country dependent on other powers to meet basic defence needs. Instead of seeking to build a first-rate military with strategic reach and an independent deterrent, India has allowed itself to become a money-spinning dumping ground for weapons it can do without. As a result, India has emerged as the world’s top arms importer in the past decade, even as its capacity to decisively win a war erodes.
The defence of India indeed has turned into an unending scandal. Even indictments by the Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG) have made little difference to the manner arms continue to be procured from overseas. Such imports, often clinched without transparency or open bidding, are a major source of political corruption. India shows that the more corrupt a system, the greater will be will be its corrupting power. A corrupt system quickly corrupts those who enter it, fixating them on the lure of kickbacks and on amassing pelf. Such metastasising corruption cannot be controlled simply by public funding of political parties. After all, much of the big-bucks corruption is designed to line one’s pocket, with no seeming limit to personal greed. In fact, the series of scandals during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led government – from bribery-influenced arms imports and $1-billion urea contract with Oman to the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars to the state in allowing private mobile telephone operators to shift from fixed licence fees to revenue sharing – served as a reminder of the growing concentration of powers in a few hands and the consequent disdain for integrated, holistic policymaking.
As in other national security challenges, the principal causes of rampant corruption are leadership deficit and governance deficit. The only way corruption can be contained is through integrity of leadership; improved governance; measures to ensure fiscal transparency; strengthened anti-bribery enforcement; government accountability; and active public involvement. The independence of investigating agencies is a prerequisite for developing an anti-corruption culture in politics and business. Yet in India, these agencies are controlled by those whom they are supposed to keep in check or investigate when a scandal unfolds. Even the vigilance system lacks autonomy and is open to manipulation. With corruption, nepotism and cronyism now endemic, Indian politics has become the safe, fast track to wealth. India freed itself from British colonialism only to come in the grip of an indigenous political class ruling the country on colonial-style principles and still functioning from colonial-era structures. It may take a second war of independence for India to gain true freedom from exploitation and pillage.
(Brahma Chellaney is the author, most recently, of Asian Juggernaut – HarperCollins USA, 2010.)
'Swiss black money can take India to the top'
March 31, 2009 19:41 IST
Indian money stashed in the Swiss Bank has become a focal point of debate, especially after the Leader of Opposition and the Bharatiya Janata Party's [ Images
] prime ministerial candidate L K Advani [ Images
] raised the issue on Sunday. If elected, the BJP has vowed to bring the black money back home. Though the Congress dismissed
the idea, the Swiss bank issue is slowly becoming a hot election issue.