Corrupt, fraud Kiran Bedi: let Ms Bedi go to jail

25/11/2011
 

Ms Bedi, how dare you?

By Kancha Ilaiah

Team Anna has been arrogant and self-righteous ever since it launched the Jan Lokpal movement. Its Jantar Mantar hungerstrike yielded quick results, as the Congress government itself gave the team a boost by constituting a committee to draft a bill and by including five members from the team in it. Among them was former cop Kiran Bedi, who behaved as if she were an angel and all others in the country either corrupt or of no consequence. But now this angel has been caught for fraud and cheating organisers that invited her to speak at their functions.

Ms Bedi has claimed that she did it all for public good, as the money earned by submitting wrong invoices was used for her NGO. Ms Bedi wants us to believe that all the money she made by lying was spent on the wellbeing of poor children. This is ridiculous, to say the least. Look at the kind of money she earned through cheating. According to a newspaper’s estimate, Ms Bedi, in 12 air trips, claimed Rs 3,89,062 whereas the amount she spent on these trips was Rs 1,18,277, thus pocketing Rs 2,70,785. Ms Bedi, as a recipient of the President’s Gallantry Award, gets a 75 per cent discount on air tickets, which she happily availed but didn’t disclose.

This is a major crime. The purpose for which that fraudulently earned money is used is not the issue. The issue here involves cheating a trusted organisation which is paying you without even asking for your boarding pass. I also travel and give lectures, as Ms Bedi does. Most organisations treat us “speakers” so well that there would be an immense sense of shame to cheat them.

If Ms Bedi were honest and morally upright, she would have asked for a donation from the organisation for the poor children she is so keen on helping. If Ms Bedi were honest and morally upright, she would not have cheated the organisation by serving an invoice for money she never spent. A chain of lies becomes part of such travel racketeering. The bigger the profile of such persons, the easier it is for them to earn huge amounts of money this way.

This “earning” is not accounted for; one does not have to pay taxes on this. Should such a practice be treated as corruption? I think it is corruption of the worst kind because this fraud is pulled off on the basis of one’s reputation and the trust of an organisation that considers you valuable enough to invite you to talk to them.

First is the moral corruption. Ms Bedi, and others like her, travel like royalty, without having to carry their own baggage or boarding pass. Nor do they take the ticket receipts that the airline generates. All the more easy to generate a fraudulent invoice of a fraudulent travel agency. This act involves a series of lies that need to be transacted between individuals and institutions.

Second, this method of making huge amounts of money deceives institutions that also have a public purpose. So while Ms Bedi may be on the dias of, say, an educational institution, talking passionately about public figures and their corrupt ways, hectoring students and teachers to act against corruption, she herself has no qualms about cheating them.

This angel of morality was just yesterday waving the Indian flag as a leader of the anti-corruption bureau that Anna Hazare established while sitting in a Yadav Baba temple in Ralegaon Siddhi, which works only according to the principles of varnadharma. We all know that in several TV debates this angel of morality and merit used to abuse the reservation system as a legal mechanism that produces a “merit-less” class of people who join government institutions only to make money through corruption. Arvind Kejriwal tells the nation — after Swami Agnivesh exposed him — that he put about `2.9 crore which was given in the form of donations to Mr Hazare’s movement in the account of India Against Corruption, his own NGO.

Ms Bedi runs an NGO with money that is fraudulently collected from public and private institutions and Mr Kejriwal runs an NGO that pockets money given to Mr Hazare. Let them remove Mr Hazare from their team and ask for donations. Then we’ll see how much money they will collect. How come the shining stars of public and personal probity did not open an account in the name of Team Anna itself? Why did they not form an organisation with Mr Hazare as its chairman, without whose signature money could not be withdrawn? Who is operating that money now?

We now understand why they were struggling to keep NGOs out of Lokpal. They wanted a Lokpal that would monitor peons, clerks and small section officers in the government sector, perhaps with a view that more than 50 per cent of small job holders come from reservation background. Would they now introduce a clause in Jan Lokpal Bill where a corrupt peon should be respected for taking bribe as long as it is for a worthy cause?

By Team Anna’s own demands and insistence on stringent action against corruption, should not an example be set by sending Ms Bedi to jail for cheating organisations in this manner? Why is Mr Hazare allowing her to continue after several organisations issued public statements that she cheated them? If Ms Bedi can wash off her guilt and sins by returning the money ( Rs 16,346 only), why don’t we extend that same courtesy to A. Raja, K. Kanimozhi and Suresh Kalmadi? If we accept this principle, why not give them a chance to return all the money they earned through kickbacks and return to being powerful and respectable again?

Team Anna can’t invert the moral discourse when it pleases them. Ms Bedi’s plea of innocence fools no one. If they want to regain credibility, let Ms Bedi go to jail now.

 

 

The writer is director, Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad

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http://www.afternoonvoice.com/editorial_Kiran-got-caught-in-fraud_21_oct_11.html

http://www.merinews.com/article/is-kiran-bedi-not-a-corrupt-and-fraud-activist/15860071.shtml

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Gandhian lookalike good for the messiah business, bad for democracy

28/08/2011

Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images

Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images

Anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare walks away from the stage on the 11th day of his hunger strike at Ram Lila grounds in New Delhi on August 26, 2011.

  Aug 26, 2011 – 5:43 PM ET

Full Comment’s Araminta Wordsworth brings you a daily round-up of quality punditry from across the globe. Today: Few people would disagree with the need to root out corruption in modern India. That’s why Anna Hazare’s campaign has struck such a chord across the world’s largest democracy.

The Hindu conservative Anna Hazare, who’s often compared with the liberation hero Mahatma Gandhi, has said he will fast until death unless the government adopts his suggestions in toto. Enthusiastic crowds have rallied around the 74-year-old, chanting, “Anna is India, India is Anna.”

Now cooler heads are making their views know — they fear democracy is being washed away by a messianic cult-like leader.

Hazare’s proposals to end corruption by setting up an independent agency — Lokpal — would heap another layer of bureaucracy on a country already tied up in red tape, they argue. These people would be unelected and appointed by Hazare and his high-caste associates, a completely undemocratic process. At Northern Voices Online, Gail Omvedt asks,

Why are such masses of people following Anna Hazare, when it is now clear that his Lokpal bill is an authoritarian, centralized and undemocratically pushed proposal?

The Lokpal Bill itself is very authoritarian, in putting non-elected people of high class-caste background over elected officials and government bureaucrats (but not, as people have noted, over corporations!). “Pal” means “guardian,” and in many ways the proposal recalls Plato’s Guardians —The philosopher-kings who would rule the State.

The movement wants to keep the state, in an even more centralized form, but replace its current rulers with a new set.

An editorial in The Hindu picks up on the authoritarian nature of Hazare’s proposals:

While his means may be Gandhian, Anna Hazare’s demands are certainly not. Contrary to Gandhiji’s ideas about the decentralization of power, the Jan Lokpal Bill is a draconian, anti-corruption law, in which a panel of carefully chosen people will administer a giant bureaucracy, with thousands of employees, with the power to police everybody from the Prime Minister, the judiciary, members of Parliament, and all of the bureaucracy, down to the lowest government official. The Lokpal will have the powers of investigation, surveillance, and prosecution. Except for the fact that it won’t have its own prisons, it will function as an independent administration, meant to counter the bloated, unaccountable, corrupt one that we already have. Two oligarchies, instead of just one.

The British news magazine The Economist is worried by what it sees as Hazare’s messianic tendencies:

To craft a campaign against corruption into a movement around a single figure is faintly troubling. The claim that “Anna is India, India is Anna” sounds close to cult-speak. As it happens, the Supreme Court, the auditor-general, a panoply of civil activists and a more assertive press have all helped to hold the corrupt to account this year. Several powerful figures have been jailed.

Other doubts exist about Mr Hazare. Some Muslim leaders are suspicious of the nationalist, and what they see as at times Hindu-dominated, tone and imagery of his campaign. Low-caste Dalits … also question his stand …

The most revered Dalit leader, the late B.R. Ambedkar, chief draftsman of India’s constitution, has been much quoted this week for an early warning about the “grammar of anarchy,” by which he meant using Gandhi-style fasts to impose your will on a democratic government. Hunger strikes, a form of blackmail, might have been justified against the British, but not against elected leaders.

Descendants of Gandhi himself agree, reports Anjana Pasricha for the Voice of America:

Gandhi’s great grandson, Tushar Gandhi, says there are crucial differences in the way the two leaders have used fasting as an instrument of protest. Mahatma Gandhi is also known in India as “bapu” or father.

“With Anna it is more of an attempt to browbeat the government into absolute surrender and submission. It definitely is an attempt to arm twist.,” Gandhi said. “With Bapu it was in his own words he said that my fast is an act of love to bring a friend back on the straight and narrow and not an attempt to vanquish an enemy.”

In an opinion piece in The Hindu, Prabhat Patnaik points out Hazare has become increasingly hardline as his campaign gathered steam:

[His demands have moved] from “we have a democratic right to protest and place our views in public,” which is an unexceptionable proposition, to “Anna will keep fasting until his bill is adopted or amended with his permission,” which amounts to holding a gun to the head of the [government], and by implication of Parliament, and dictating that the bill it has produced must be passed, or else mayhem will follow.

The government’s flip-flops are indicative of incompetence; the Anna group’s flip-flops arise because of the compulsions of a particular style of politics on which it is embarked, which can be called “messianism” and which is fundamentally anti-democratic. The fact that it is striking a chord among the people, if at all it is (one cannot entirely trust the media on this), should be a source of serious concern, for it underscores the pre-modernity of our society and the shallowness of the roots of our democracy.

National Post

compiled by Araminta Wordsworth
awordsworth@nationalpost.com

Posted in: Full Comment, World Politics  Tags: Araminta Wordsworth, Full Comment Abroad, corruption, India, democracy, Anna Hazare, messianism, Mahatma Gandhi, Lokpal Bill

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Will Lokpal probe divine money?

05/07/2011

Kancha Ilaiah

Baba Ramdev is not willing to end his war against black money. He has now asked the government to unearth all black money — cash stashed away within the country as well as all the money parked in secret accounts in banks abroad.

Following Baba Ramdev’s exhortations, his disciples participated in hungerstrikes and agitations against black money. Likewise, Anna Hazare (who, incidentally, is a devotee of a Yadav baba whose temple is located in his own model village, Ralegaon Siddi) and his team are also opposed to black money and corruption and the Gandhian has threatened to go on hungerstrike again. Team Anna wants the Lokpal Bill dictated by them accepted as is and be made the law of the land. None of them, however, has so far said a word on the recent revelations of huge amounts of money and jewellery hidden in the vaults of temples and bedrooms of babas.

The treasure discovered at the Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple is worth Rs 1 lakh crore. And on June 17, Rs 11.5 crore in cash, 98 kg of gold and 307 kg of silver were found by Trust members when they opened Satya Sai Baba’s chambers at the Puttaparthi ashram after his death. It may be recalled that Baba Ramdev rushed to Puttaparthi to see the body of Satya Sai after he passed away. When Satya Sai was in the hospital, several “sacred” men and ministers from the Centre and states bemoaned that if he dies, ethics in India will also die.

One woman minister of Andhra Pradesh, in fact, camped beside his hospital bed for months. Several civil servants, judges and academics rushed to Puttaparthi. Now we have some idea why all this happened. It will be interesting to see what Baba Ramdev and Team Anna have to say about the officially declared wealth of the ashram, apart from the bundles shipped out of Satya Sai’s Yajur Mandir. Is this wealth black or white?

Will Baba Ramdev make a statement about the currency that was lying in Satya Sai’s bedroom, which was locked up when he was shifted to hospital? How do they define black money? Was the cash, gold and silver found in Yajur Mandir all white? If Mr Hazare, Baba Ramdev and their team members treat such money as black money, why are they silent on the course of action against it? Will the Lokpal Bill, which they are fighting for, also cover spiritual shrines of babas, temples, masjids, churches and gurdwaras? Does Mr Hazare’s draft have a clause that covers the kind of black money that was unearthed in Yajur Mandir?

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leaders A. Raja and K. Kanimozhi and Congress leader Suresh Kalmadi are in jail because they were said to be corrupt. If Satya Sai was alive, and if all the cash, gold and silver were dug up during that time, would he have had to be accountable? What would Kiran Bedi, who claims to be an honest and efficient police officer, have done in this case? Would she have arrested Satya Sai if he was in her jurisdiction?

By his own admission, Baba Ramdev has acquired assets worth `1,100 crore in a span of just 10 years. We do not know the worth of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar or Mata Anandamayi, whose spiritual kingdoms are thriving and expanding like wildfire. Shouldn’t Mr Hazare’s Lokpal Bill have a provision for investigating these financial empires?

I am sure no Prime Minister’s or Chief Justice of India’s bedroom (from Jawaharlal Nehru to Dr Manmohan Singh) could possess as much wealth as Satya Sai’s bedroom held.

At least the Prime Minister is accountable to Parliament and the people, and the Chief Justice has to sit on benches and there is an open office system with a registrar around him.
Who are the babas accountable to? In the name of god, spiritual exercises and cultural campaigns, far too much immorality, corruption and accumulation of black money has been taking place in the country. We know how godmen, politicians, bureaucrats, judges and academics make even gods corrupt in India. Early and exclusive darshan of the deity at big temples is available for a price. Part of this money goes into temple hoondis, the rest into the bedrooms of babas.

What does our highly moral civil society have to say about the corrupt culture of spiritual institutions, the latest evidence being the Yajur Mandir? We have seen what happened in Osho’s ashram. American civil society could not tolerate that ashram even for a few months.

Sexual immorality and accumulation of black money has been part of so-called spiritual/religious institutions. If we are against moral and financial corruption, we must focus on the haloed halls too.

* The author is director for the study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad

http://www.deccanchronicle.com/editorial/dc-comment/anna-will-lokpal-probe-divine-money-952


Fight against Corruption: Are we Serious?

03/07/2011

<abbr title=" by Vidya Bhushan Rawat

Those were the years when the people in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar thought that now the change was about to come. The crowd at his gathering was increasing regularly. The speeches were laced with new adjectives of ‘future of India’. Rajiv’s clean image had taken a beating. The exposé had jolted his government. As the Finance Minister, he ordered that the corruption charges against prominent industrialists be probed. Many of them had to go to jail. He selected his officers on the basis of their probity and personal strength. They gave him results. Soon, the ‘best Finance Minister’ was shunted out of the Ministry to ‘defend’ the country. The industrialists wanted him out. He ordered an inquiry against corrupt politicians too and they also wanted his exit. No industrial house in India can survive without corruption. Tax evasions were rampant and he was trying to find out the big fishes without understanding that these sharks would connive together and throw him out.

He was sent to the Defence Ministry ignoring the big public opinion against his ouster. The govern-ment of that the day was habitual of such things. Rajiv was surrounded by the coterie and completely ignored saner advices. As he moved to the Defence Ministry, he found that there was a commission paid in the HDW Howitzer deal ordered from Germany. The Bofors report also came out and it became difficult for the Congress to hide its face. This ‘he’ that time was V.P. Singh whom we all love to hate despite his personal integrity and honesty in political life.

Yes, V.P. Singh was dismissed from the primary membership of the Congress Party for his fight against corruption. Yet, the successful thing was that he became the symbol of the fight against corruption in India in the late eighties. The students, middle classes jumped up and joined hands. His personal image remained clean all the time. The government of the day started a personal vendetta and fictitious reports were planted. Editors were hired to write in papers. Some of the biggest names of the Indian media jumped into the fray and allowed themselves to be used in a vicious propaganda against Singh. A fake account was opened under his son Ajeya Singh’s name in St. Kitts Island which later turned out to be fictitious. His ancestral property issue also cropped up. Yet, V.P. Singh could survive because he was simply a man of integrity and his life was open for probe.

The upper-caste middle classes were first to jump on his bandwagon when they realise that he was now ready to overthrow the government. The Brahmins of Varanasi anointed him with title ‘Rajarshi’ and he developed tremendous goodwill of the people, that is, the upper castes.

V.P. Singh came to power in 1989. He ensured that people with integrity take charge of the Ministry. The government was functioning well. It started allowing freedom to Doordarshan and All India Radio. It was refreshing to see news that time. It was working on labour and election reforms. A lot of other issues, including the Lokpal, was under consideration then. That apart, the Janata Dal as a political party had promised to fulfil 27 per cent quota for the OBCs.

On August 7, 1990, V.P. Singh announced the acceptance of the Mandal Commission recommen-dations in Parliament. For one month nothing happened and slowly the upper castes realised that their control over power is slipping and unless a slanderous campaign is started, they will be completely out of power. So, not only slander but everything that was available in the dictionary was used to defame the Dalits and OBCs. The middle class Hindus were in the streets against the OBC quota. V.P. Singh became one of the most hated politicians of our time. So much that none of the Hindu journalists ever want to say good things about him. Today, when we are fighting against corruption, none of these leaders bother to even mention his name. Why?

The answer lies in the upper-caste hatred against anything that provides connection of power to the Dalits and marginalised. V.P. Singh was the greatest person as long as he was talking about corruption and but he became the worst man once he started talking about the Dalits and OBCs. His government not only ensured the OBC quota but it also provided reservation for neo-Buddhists at the centenary celebrations of Babasaheb Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar and honoured him with Bharat Ratna. Similarly, Mayawati is not corrupt as long as she placates the upper castes but as soon as she erected those monuments of the Dalit Bahujan icons in the city of Lucknow, we are angry because we feel that the natural inheritor of our roundabouts in the city centre are the Gandhis, Nehrus, and our so many gods and goddesses. The upper caste-middle class feeling is that the Dalit Bahujan icons should remain in the bastis and dalitwadas.

WHEN we talk about corruption, how can we ignore the illicit land deals in our country? How can Anna and his team just feel that corruption is only in terms of money? The biggest corruption in today’s India is the sale of our natural resources, our land, forest and water. What is their stand on it? What will they do that powerful and well-connected people do not buy land just because they have money? Will we put a ceiling on land in India despite the people’s purchasing power? When the civil society wants to judge everyone, who will judge the civil society? What is this civil society? Did Anna and his team follow any principle of democracy in forming his team? How does democracy survive with such black-mailing tactics of Gandhi who used it to foil the separate electorate of Dalits?’

The issue of corruption is not a minor one but then those who want to fight against it should also remain clean. Yes, for people like us, they should not only be clean but also have faith in our secular pluralistic values and cannot be hate-preachers. How are these multi-billionaires, who have acquired their property in each State and even outside India, interested in the fight against corruption? Doesn’t Anna and his team know about the Baba and his games, his property and money? Is it a fight among those who say you have grabbed over one hundred million rupees and it is now our term to do so? How are we going to talk about individuals? Democracy will have to come out of such individualism and work. Yes, corruption affects us all. So why not we start to work developing a movement from the ground involving those whose lands have been grabbed by the local elites who may be donating huge sums to these anti-corruption crusaders? Should we not see who these forces we want to project as alternative are?

Just because there is a crowd does not mean that it has the right to do anything. Crowd does not provide legitimacy. Many of our friends actually feel that anyone who brings out the crowd is great. Yes, the Baba’s crowd was not a crowd for social justice. Anna’s crowd is similar. The stupidity of the Sangh’s propaganda is that the Ramlila Ground incident is being portrayed as Jalianwalla Bagh massacre. And see their gleeful faces at Rajghat. Sushma was dancing while Advani was comparing this incident to Jalianwalla Bagh. None ever questioned about the fictitious land deals of Ram Dev and other Babas. If we ignore the vital corruption in terms of land in the name of mutts, temples, gurudwaras and mosques, we cannot fight against corruption. In fact, we provide legitimacy. We cannot start a movement in which a majority of the population feels isolated, and fearful. The concern of 20 per cent Indian Muslims and other minorities are important and cannot be ignored. It is not just corruption but also their place in India and partnership in decision-making. How do we allow Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims and others partnership in our movement if we allow the entire reactionary forces in our decision-making? Just because you want to eliminate the Congress Party does not mean you can ally with anyone.

Yes, if the government and those who claim to work for us, are serious, then they must talk about corruption of all kinds, in all forms, anywhere. And not talk what is suitable to the middle classes who started corruption and want to lead the movement against it too. We want the government to release all the land papers of temples, mutts, gurudwaras, churches and mosques. Let the people know how much money is lying there and who is using that for what purpose. Anna Hazare and his team would do great harm if they do not consider this as corruption. Will they speak on it? Will they take on the religious thugs sitting on our land and water and preaching of austerity to us?

The Hindutva forces are working overnight on their agenda. They will use all the platforms which bring back power to the bramanical social order. After Ramdev, they want to bring back Uma Bharati to fight against Mayawati. While the Congress is shamelessly sticking to the Brahmin elite in Uttar Pradesh, the Hindutva forces are busy experimenting and who else can they use better than the Shudras? It is time we understand the dangers of such a fight against corruption and expose them tooth and nail. None can be a bigger threat to India than the ascendancy of the Hindutva forces to power. Let us fight against corruption and expose the very source of it.

Original Article: http://www.mainstreamweekly.net/article2867.html