The collusion between government, industry, power brokers and policy makers has completely been exposed in the series of scams that are unfolding in the UPA 2 regime. What is worse is that the industry which talks highly of corporate governance and transparency in governance in policy making has reduced to building nexus and cornering natural resources. Industry bodies too that act as lobbyists for the industry and make a hue and cry for every policy change that the government does is now quiet. Big industry names are involved in 2G spectrum and coal block allocation, aviation sector, some traditional business houses as also some front companies are being exposed in the series of scams.
This has brought governance and transparency in crisis. Except Satyam we have not come across with any company that has flouted the corporate governance law. So has the government tried to implement governance, at least through its rhetoric of half-baked policies that would benefit the private sector at large than the consumer?
Coal-gate too is such a half-baked policy, we can say. The government and its sympathizers are now trying to take a pathetic path that the policy is in place since 1993. Was it not the duty of the government to amend this policy? The consecutive governments did nothing but wanted a old wine in new bottle for a better ecstasy. The industry too did not object to this. But the same industry makes a hue and cry when even a penny is about to go out of its purse when taxation laws are amended.. Industry then persuades the government to make changes to the policy that will put premium on consumer’s purse.
Coal block allocation should have been at the highest bid. But the dichotomy is that government sells Mill land that would provide housing through a competitive bidding and finite natural resources for free. Thus this kind of government casts doubt about the intentions of transparency that it needs to practice.
The Union Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal has a different version. In a recent interview he stated, “There is no question of distributing coal free of cost. Today everyone is demanding that auctioning of coal blocks should have taken place. But once they are auctioned, the end produce generated through the auctioned coal, be it power or steel, is bound to be high.” But even after giving it free of cost he refused to assure that the power or steel produced will be at lower price. So the question that comes to mind is then what was the benefit to the government to allot the mines for free?
Since the Commonwealth Games, 2G allotments we have seen nothing but questions raised on the governments procedures and practices adopted. The onus does not lie on a single political party; the attitude is seen across the political spectrum who, wish to corner resources for free.
The cynicism about the political system is two fold one the incompetency and second trust betrayed. The government even after years of experience and competent people has failed to provide quality health care and education to all. The budgetary provisions for health care and education are very less. Thus indirectly helping drop-out in education, be it primary or higher.
About the trust, recently two cabinet ministers had to go behind the bars for dishonesty. Trust about the industry is almost at its lowest. Though, not many industries are in the bad books. The falling of newly constructed metro bridges in National Capital Region, Mumbai are a few examples. Hence, how can there be confidence among people of the country that the government we elected is bringing in good policies. What about the employment policy? The average youth of this country is in dark about the future. And hence we witness rise of violence and movements like Naxalism in many district from few in the past.
The concern however remains is whether the choice of politicians that we make is good enough to govern the population that they represent. Can the politician s and industry evolve enough to look after the resources in a more open and scientific manner and without a personal agenda use it for the development of the country.
Kaustabh Kulkarni is Principal Correspondent for “ETV NEWS”, one of India’s leading multilingual national TV stations with a viewership of approximately 80 million. He reports on a wide variety subjects and issues, including economic development; political affairs; business; defense, inter-community relations; and socio-political developments with a special interest in international affairs, international trade, Anti Terrorism and Human Rights.
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