The surveys by Transparency International (TI) in 2017 about corruption remind us that India surpasses all the countries in the Asia-Pacific region in bribery.
The shocking cases of fraud related to public sector banks that have been coming to light, in reality, are shown to be only a fraction of the massive scams carried out by the government, corporate giants and bureaucracy. When the news of bigwigs absconding from the country after committing fraud worth colossal amounts of money or getting arrested one after the other every day, surfaces, the common man could not help but wonder what a world of fantasy he is living in. Even before the nation recovered from the shock over the news of diamond merchant Nirav Modi fleeing the country along with his relatives after swindling the Punjab National Bank (PNB) of over Rs 11, 800 crore, reports of scam worth Rs 3, 695 crore committed by Rotomac Pens owner Vikram Kothari comes to light. In addition to all these, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had earlier revealed that banking frauds worth Rs 61, 260 crores have taken place in the last five financial years.
The very practice of writing off bad debts amounts to open corruption. It is a massive fraud carried out by high profile businessmen, bank officials and the government. Illegal dealings worth lakhs of crores take place in the banking sector. It is the money that flows from the exchequer which the public sector banks squander in such a way, thereby shaking the very foundation of the nation’s economy. When asked who is responsible, the government in power points the finger of blame at the predecessors and make efforts to save its face. Even Finance Minister Arun Jaitley who should be giving explanations when the matter of corruption crops up, follows an irresponsible approach of maintaining silence. When the Finance Minister after keeping his mouth shut for long about the grave fraud at the PNB, finally broke his silence, he is seen making attempts to lay the burden of crime on the heads of the bank and auditors. The people including Jaitley forget the big truth that the reason banks provide loans generously, and aid Nirav Modi and his ilk to satiate their greed is that they bask in the care and protection of those in power.
Prime Minister Modi usually turns loquacious on foreign soil saying that the times of corruption are over and that the culture of governance during the tenure of the erstwhile government has been uprooted. But his silence despite a few swindling the nation of its wealth and fleeing, might be to avoid his role in the economic collapse being in focus. Eradication of black money and corruption was cited as the main goals for implementing demonetisation, a move which actually landed people in severe misery. However, it is certain that a period during which such massive scams took place through financial institutions, is unprecedented in independent India. It has to be inferred that despite warnings and confidential reports, those at the top positions failed to take appropriate action to curb the illegal dealings. Even though the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) had presented 23 cases involving people including IAS officers who were engaged in financial misappropriations, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) that should be giving permission to the prosecution, has been withholding the cases since 2014. Thus the 39 officials including senior executive who aided and abetted the offence, are making their lives comfortable without giving in to law, and serving the Mallyas, Modis and Kotharis under the protection of the government.
It is the frauds practiced by corporate giants, their officials and bank bosses together, that masquerade as bad debts and pauperism. When we probe how Nirav Modi has mustered the courage to brazenly ignore the banks that move against him, and refuse to clear the arrears, it transpires that they freely enjoy the blessings of those at the higher echelons of power. In other countries too financial institutions do become the scene of irregular transactions, but what is currently happening in India is of an extremely rare kind. The credibility of the banking system has entirely collapsed. But what makes the future bleak is the situation where there is no governmental leadership with the will and efficacy to take corrective measures and restore integrity. It can only be hoped that the people will, when the time gets ripe, abandon those who sit on the pinnacle of corruption and chant the hymns of patriotism.