Yet Another Scam

By Yogesh Atal

It did not surprise me a bit to know from the media about the bribe offered by a senior railway employee to earn a high position in the Railway Board. To be sure, this cannot be the first instance of its kind; and I fail to believe that CBI is unaware of such under-table dealings for procuring lucrative positions in the decision making chambers. This happens not only in the Railways, but also in the appointments of senior positions in other government or semi-government agencies such as ONGC, and even for the appointments of the Vice Chancellors in universities. At least I know of one of the states where it is common knowledge that vice chancellor’s position is secretly auctioned. The appointments of senior lecturers or even police officers to this prestigious position have raised people’s eyebrows. But CBI did not question the chancellor - who happens to be the governor of the state - about such happenings. The practice goes unabated.

What happened in the case of Mahesh Kumar is part of a widespread disease, and is common knowledge. If a commoner like me knows about the prevailing ailment, it is hard to believe that the CBI is unaware of this practice? It cannot be that the CBI suddenly launched this offensive to malign the “clear image” Railway Minister. There must be some other reasons for such an exposure which is part of the routine in high places. Maybe, Mr Bansal is to be shown the exit door.

The question that one should ask is: how can people of limited means — a government employee even though he/she may be the General Manager of a Railway, or a University lecturer — manage to give such huge bribes? Obviously, it is the big business that pays the money on behalf of the candidate as an advance payment for procuring a big deal from the agency. The fact that Mahesh Kumar wanted to be Member Electrical clearly suggests that the companies dealing with the railways in the supply of electrical material in crores must have paid on his behalf.

For the vice chancellor’s position in that given state, I am told the money is paid by the contractors in the hope of earning a huge contract after his appointment. One should also investigate as to where does this money go. It might either be going to the coffers of the political party to which the Minister or the Governor belongs, or it may be shared by bigwigs in agreed proportions.

There is a network of corruption. The CBI knows or should know about it. It waits for an appropriate time to use this information to the advantage of the party in power.

Occasional revelations of this type only indicate how deep the roots of corruption are.

Professor Atal is UNESCO’s former Principal Director of Social and Human Sciences and blogs at http://yogeshatal.wordpress.com