The politics of corruption

The politics of corruption

This is in response to your editorial “A failure of accountability" (Mint, 29 April). The “discord" that we hear over the Public Accounts Committee’s report on the second-generation spectrum issue actually indicates that there is no discord among politicians. It is clear now that they don’t want anything related to the issue to be revealed, and no culprit to be punished. In this endeavour, they have joined hands in the name of democratic debate. In fact, they are trying to fool the very people who constitute the essence of that democracy.

Further, the politicians on all sides of the spectrum want neither corruption to be eradicated nor the corrupt to be held to account. For if these were to be done, politicians would be left without the power of position, money and status. How true the adage is—power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

—S..A.S. Sarma

This is in response to your editorial “A failure of accountability" (Mint, 29 April). Beyond the shadow of a doubt, the histrionics displayed by political parties over the Public Accounts Committee’s investigation into the second-generation (2G) spectrum case betray their primary motive to hit pay dirt, with a view to gaining political mileage.

If in the process, democratic functioning norms were the casualty, both sides—the United Progressive Alliance and its cohorts, as also the Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies— reaffirmed the assessment widely prevalent: That participants, or combatants, simply indulged in self-flagellation, when the occasion demanded a sober approach to the 2G spectrum pyrotechnics. These had been painstakingly unravelled by the Comptroller and Auditor General, an independent constitutional authority whose competence and integrity has, to date, been vindicated in its passage down the decades.

If the ruling coalition has scored a pyrrhic victory, the reward for it is a further dent in its credibility index. As a corollary, if the National Democratic Alliance partners feel wronged, then they too suffer from a similar disease.

—D.V. Kakade

This refers to your editorial “A regulatory threat to ports" (Mint, 28 April). The port privatization initiatives started by the government in 1997 have paid rich dividends. This is manifested in the rapid rise in cargo handling. The performance and service levels offered by private ports and terminals compare favourably with the best facilities in the world. In the last 14 years since privatization, the Indian port sector has truly come of age. Is there a need to regulate the sector when market forces are driving fierce competition, both inter-port as well as intra-port? The fear of monopolistic attitudes no longer exists. Any further progress in the sector can now only come through less and less legislation. Further, if port tariffs constitute only 4% of the overall logistics costs, why only regulate this link in the total transport chain, 96% of which decides on its own tariff? If at all there is any need for a “regulator", it should be in the form of an appellate authority where port users’ complaints can be dealt with. It?is time?we moved towards this line of thinking.

—S.S. Kulkarni

This refers to your report “High court raps Air India, orders immediate end to pilots’ strike" (Mint, 28 April). In any strike, the victims are end-users—in pilots’ strikes, the passengers; in railways/state transport/bank strikes, the customers; in municipal strikes, the general public. Labour laws need drastic amendments so that end-users do not suffer. I remember in one labour strife at a Japanese shoe factory, the workers only manufactured the left-foot shoes, and not the right-foot ones.

Also, the leader of the union has to be an employee, and not an outsider (in many cases, political party workers become union leaders). Every worker should get an opportunity to become the union leader, and there should be a cap on the number of times one can take the post.

Taking recourse to legal action is a long-drawn and expensive process, and an ordinary passenger would not take such a route. If to strike is an employee’s right, then it is also the right of the end-users to get uninterrupted service. Sadly, there is no legal backing on this issue.

—Deendayal M. Lulla

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