In India, when top politicians are caught in serious crime or corruption cases, they baselessly claim that the allegations against them are politically motivated. So, no serious investigation takes place.
By Rakesh Raman
India’s Minister of Transport Nitin Gadkari has been named in a report that reveals the minister is involved in a quid pro quo deal with a Swedish automobile company Scania, which is part of Volkswagen AG’s commercial vehicle arm Traton SE.
After its internal investigation, Scania has admitted that ‘misconduct’ happened in India and it was a contract-for-bribes case. Multiple media reports, including a report by Swedish news channel SVT, have claimed that Scania paid bribes to win bus contracts in seven Indian states between 2013 and 2016.
In the SVT report of March 9, Scania’s CEO Henrik Henriksson confirms that Scania bribed to obtain benefits in India. He says that the contracts of private business partners involved in this deal have been terminated and the complicit employees at Scania have been allowed to leave the company.
Further, an SVT report of March 10 added that in 2016, Scania delivered a specially equipped luxury bus to a company with connections to India’s Minister of Transport, Nitin Gadkari who is one of India’s most powerful politicians in Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The bus was gifted for the wedding of Gadkari’s daughter while the internal system of scrutiny was bypassed by senior Scania employees in India, as they did not want to show this transaction took place. As alleged, the deal also included a cash transaction of at least 2.5 million rupees (Rs. 25 lakh).
In its March 10 report, Reuters quotes a Scania spokesman who said the company started its internal investigation in 2017, but the findings have not previously been disclosed. “This misconduct included alleged bribery, bribery through business partners and misrepresentation,” he said.
However, Gadkari’s office said in a statement that Gadkari and his family members have absolutely nothing to do with the purchase or sale of the bus, adding that it is an internal affair of the Swedish company.
“Since the entire episode is of the Scania bus, it will be prudent for the media to wait for an official statement by Scania India which handled the matter,” it added.
Scania CEO Henrik Henriksson told SVT that the company had stopped selling city buses in India and had closed down its factory there, adding that the company underestimated the risks of bribery.
Meanwhile, in response to a questionnaire sent by The Wire news service, Gadkari’s office denied the allegations that any company associated with his family received a bus, saying that they are “malicious, fabricated and baseless.”
The Wire said in its report of March 10 that the minister’s office also noted that the attempts to “drag the name of Shri Nitin Gadkari and his family” are “very unfortunate and part of a sinister and malicious campaign” to malign the minister.
In India, when top politicians are caught in serious crime or corruption cases, they baselessly claim that the allegations against them are politically motivated. So, no serious investigation takes place. In fact, bribery and corruption are serious white-collar financial crimes which must be investigated by specialized agencies, but such agencies do not exist in India.
CORRUPTION IN MODI GOVERNMENT
While rampant corruption is happening at every step in India, politicians and bureaucrats are blatantly defying laws that are supposed to prevent corruption. The latest Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) released in January 2021 by Transparency International reveals that India is among the most corrupt countries of the world.
The index, which ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, asserts that India, with a score of just 40, is ranked 86 in the world. In other words, India is more corrupt than 85 other countries.
Similarly, the Global Corruption Index (GCI) 2020 has given India a score of 51.93 out of 100 and ranked it at 100th position. The GCI reveals that both direct corruption measures, i.e., the indicator of corruption perception and that of bribery experience in recent transactions, indicate significant corruption risks in India.
Today, most anti-corruption organizations such as the Lokpal, Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), and the Supreme Court of India exist only as toothless outfits that have repeatedly failed to resolve serious corruption cases involving top bureaucrats and politicians.
These so-called anti-corruption agencies are either scared of the government politicians or complicit in crimes being committed by bureaucrats and politicians. That’s why they simply ignore the corruption complaints against government functionaries.
Moreover, the investigating officers are so unskilled and almost illiterate that they cannot understand the complaints. As a result, there are inordinate delays in resolving the corruption cases or the culprits never get punished.
In fact, Modi himself is embroiled in a number of corruption cases, including the Rafale deal, secretly floated PM-CARES Fund, Sahara-Birla payoff case, and a number of other cases in which his party colleagues are involved.
Apart from bureaucratic and political corruption, now there are also reports of judicial corruption under Modi’s regime, and corruption is the main cause of socio-economic meltdown and increasing unrest in India.
As the focus of the Modi government is on encouraging corruption and ignoring governance, global research reveals that India has almost lost its status of democracy and it has become an autocratic country under Modi.
Actually, the Indian anti-corruption organizations should proactively investigate such cases that widely appear in the media to catch the culprits. But these parasitical organizations ignore these cases and corruption is increasing exponentially. Therefore, such white-collar crimes must have universal jurisdiction and be tried in international courts.
Political and bureaucratic corruption is the main cause of unemployment, poverty, pollution, sickness, and hunger in India. And for all this misery, institutions such as the Lokpal, CVC, CBI, and courts are responsible. Therefore, the top bosses at Lokpal and other anti-corruption agencies must take moral responsibility and step down from their positions.
And it will be the right step to wind up the Lokpal office and all other anti-corruption government departments instead of wasting public money on them. The sooner the better.
By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. He is the founder of a humanitarian organization RMN Foundation which is working in diverse areas to help the disadvantaged and distressed people in the society.
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