India Uncut

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Sunday, February 27, 2005

Factor in corruption

Tavleen Singh writes in the Indian Express that the levels of corruption in the Indian bureaucratic machine are so staggeringly high that the budget that the finance minister P Chidambaram will shortly present is almost redundant. It is essentially a declaration of intent; how much of that money, our money, actually gets used as it is intended to? Singh writes:
In Hyderabad an Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax, P Ananta Ramulu, was found to have Rs 2.07 crore in various bank accounts whose papers he concealed in clocks, cupboards and wood panels in the family home. This crorepati began his career as a stenographer. In Gorakhpur the CBI found a railway medical officer called Asim Kumar who had Rs 1.58 crore worth of unexplained assets that included a flat in Delhi and a ‘‘palatial house’’ in Gorakhpur. What would a railway medical officer make money out of? In Delhi they caught an Income-Tax man called Pramod Kumar Gupta who had Rs 26 lakh in cash and was building himself a many-storied house in Ghaziabad. In Maharashtra they caught two excise officers with flats in Pune and Mumbai, and in Chandigarh an Assistant Provident Fund Commissioner called Manoj Kumar Pandey from whom they recovered Rs 44.5 lakh of unexplained assets. Out of our provident fund money?


[T]he eve of Budget Day is a good time to discuss this since it is the only time the Finance Minister renders to us an account of how the Government is spending our money. In my view it has been spent on the wrong things for too long. It is on account of bad housekeeping and convoluted, loophole-ridden rules that one of India’s international achievements is to always rank high when it comes to measuring the corruption of countries. Think how much Cabinet ministers and high officials must be making if a railway medical officer in Gorakhpur can build himself a palace? Yet, year after year the Finance Minister gets away with not explaining why we spend more money on armies of corrupt, unnecessary officials when we so desperately need to spend much more money on important things.

Read the full thing.
amit varma, 12:19 PM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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