The Bold Voice of J&K

How to fight corruption from within the system

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Joginder Singh 

By convention, and not by any law, the Reserve Bank of India chief is appointed for a tenure of three years. His responsibility is to ensure good monetary and regulatory policies for the country. He has a supervisory role on behalf of the Government, and so by virtue of the above, he is a part and parcel of the Government.
In fact, in our country, there are only three state institutions, on which the Government has no control. These are the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, the Election Commission of India and the judicary. All other agencies, including the police, the Central Bureau of Investigation, the public works department etc are part of the Government at different levels, be it Centre or State.
The trend of fixed tenures started in 1997, when in this writer’s case, the Government had him transferred, as he had said that no accused in the fodder scam should be spared, unless the Government gave the orders in writing. My transfer was challenged by the public, in Patna and Delhi High courts and the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court took up the case from the High Courts, and decided that the Director of the CBI will have a tenure of two year. It also ruled that a special committee comprising the Prime Minister, the Leader of Opposition and the Chief Justice of India would decide on the appointment of the CBI Director.
Later, the officials in the Government jumped on the bandwagon and got politicians to give a number of them fixed tenures of three to five years. It is not as if there was a shortage of idle people in the Government, who could be conveniently sent there, without affecting the work of the Government, without giving them extensions.
In fact, less staff means more efficiency. There is no check on the work done by any such body, whereas the RBI Governor has to work, in fact too much, if he were to oversee the working of the public sector banks and their non-performing assets (NPA).
Fortunately, most RBI Governors including the present one Raghuram Rajan, have been ourstanding in their jobs. As for the others, it’s best to let the sleeping dogs lie undisturbed.
But the one thing that I am suprised about is why the public sector banks have been bled left, right and centre, without the Union Government taking a firm Stand.
Obviously huge dead losses, which are called euphemistically or obliquely called ‘non performing assets’, have remained out of bounds for RBI Governors, more out of convention than any other reason.
At present, the dead losses or NPA stand at Rs 122 lakh crores apart from unknown figures since independence, which must be hundreds of times. The money does not perform. It is the person handling the money, who makes a profit or loss. Obviously, without the support of the powerful and the higher-ups, no bank would have have given huge sums in loans running into hundreds and thousands of crores. Obviously, one man can hardly check corruption and malpractices in the bank.
There have been many instances of bank corruption that have come to forefront in recent years: For example, the chairman of a nationalised bank was arrested for bribery and corruption in August 2014 by the CBI. Raids were carried out in cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Bhopal for documants, cash and property. However, as is usually the case, for every one corrupt per son caught, 99 others got away.
Since the banks deal with money, it is like the fish in the Sea, as nobody can know as to how much water it drank. Obviously, there is hardly any effective system in place for the RBI to keep a watch on the high and mighty bankers. However, for this the present chief is not to be blamed, as hardly anybody who matters in this country is serious about checking corruption. His predecessors played safe, by letting the sleeping dogs sleep.
Let it be said in no uncertain terms: Without the connivance of top bankers, the NPA burden couldn’t have reached this level. The incumbent RBI chief may have little time left in his tenure but he should make a start in this direction. There is no deterrence in India’s anti-corruption laws. Rajan can add teeth by seizing unaccounted property of the corrupt in high places.
This writer is not supporting or praising Rajan who he is the son of his senior colleague in the Indian Police Service. The writer would only urge that he should pay attention to the big looters, who without the conninvance of bankers, could not plundered tax-payer money.
Rajan has earned an outstanding name in his job. Extension of service, irrespective of the party in power, is not always given to the deserving. Many yes-men get extensions. This is not a reflection of their performance.
So far as the monetary policy for the country, it is too much to expect for the Governor of the Reserve Bank to make any mark. Above the Governor is the Finance Minister, the Prime Minister and Parliament, apart from the clerks and bureacrats in the Finance Ministry. Gone are the days, when the powers that be had to tell officials to take a particular decision. Now they expect the officials to anticipate their wishes and act responsibly.
India is not like the US or the UK or Europe where politicians don’t expect you to toe their line, and if you do not follow their implicit orders, you lose your jobs. I happened to be in the UK for a programme some years back. A news item had appeared which said that the son of the then UK Prime Minister was found drunk in a gutter and the police had found him, and taken him to the police station. In such cases, the police there normally call the father and advise him suitably, before handing over the individual concerned. In this case, when they searched the boy, they found the address of 10 Downing Street .
The police wanted the father, the British Prime Minister,to come to the station! This would be unthinkable in India, where the son of an MLC shoots dead a person for overtaking his vehicle. The Constitution of India says that everybody is equal before the law. But what is happening is the opposite of it. It is for the present Government to equality before the law a reality. Any time is a good time, to do the right thing.

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