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One is not enough

The prime minister and the Congress chairperson’s insistence on an inquiry into the wrongdoings in the run-up to the Commonwealth Games is encouraging, writes MR Sharma.

india Updated: Oct 19, 2010 21:59 IST
M.R. Sharma

The prime minister and the Congress chairperson’s insistence on an inquiry into the wrongdoings in the run-up to the Commonwealth Games is encouraging. It’s important to first identify the aim of the probe. Is it meant to identify and punish the corrupt? Would putting a few culprits behind bars recover thousands of crores that were either siphoned off by officials or wasted in the Games’ preparations? Sadly, the answer is no.

Does the wider aim of the probe embrace the poor management of the event and the authorities’ indifference? Why did everyone wait till the eleventh hour to set off the alarm bells? Will the probe identify the ‘anonymous’ mandarins, who created a maze of diffused responsibilities that made everybody and yet nobody responsible for the various lapses? While lineage and loyalty to the ‘tsar’ replaced other criteria to become a member of the Organising Committee, the watchdogs appointed by the Centre failed to perform their duty. The probe should also take their inaction into account.

The probe is proposed to be four-pronged and will be headed by powerful agencies. Just like in a multi-pronged attack on an enemy stronghold, synchronisation among all the ‘units’ is important to avoid confusion. But who will coordinate their actions? There are two options. First, all four ‘units’ can discuss among themselves their individual roles and come up with a comprehensive ‘action plan’. Else, a central committee can be appointed to approve, coordinate and monitor their activities. The latter should include only those people who have prior experience in dealing with such problems and are experts in fields like accountancy and human resource management.

If properly done, this probe will go a long way in making Indians learn from their mistakes. The findings of the probe would also make for a good case study that will benefit millions of students of business management.

But the purpose of the probe will be lost if one person is made the scapegoat. The nation is looking forward to an honest and a transparent probe, which will help us to find and punish the guilty. This is the least the government can do to restore people’s confidence in our polity. We can't afford to treat this investigation like many others which, even after many years, have failed to return desired results.

M.R. Sharma is a retired Lt. General of the Indian Army. The views expressed by the author are personal