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People don't forget easily

india Updated: Dec 01, 2010 22:40 IST
Hindustan Times
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Keep your head down until the storm blows over may have been sound advice to those caught up in scams in the past. But today, given the explosive nature of the information industry, improprieties, like Banquo's ghost, don't seem to leave the side of the wrongdoer in a hurry. And this prompts investigative agencies and watchdogs to move with much greater alacrity than in the past.

Less than two months after the Commonwealth Games ended, the CBI has filed cases against Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi's aides for taking enormous liberties with the pricing of equipment and contracts for the Games. This is the third CBI case in this alleged scam. This will go a long way towards restoring some confidence in a system that has been buffeted by allegations of financial misconduct, the most prominent being that of the 2G spectrum allocation.

It's in the government's interest to remove all impediments to a speedy resolution of these alleged scams if it is to restore credibility not just in itself but also in the polity. In this regard, the Supreme Court strictures on the chief vigilance commissioner (CVC) on his ineligibility to supervise the investigation into the 2G issue on account of his controversial stint as telecom secretary is cause for concern.

He also has a case pending against him from when he was food and civil supplies secretary in Kerala in the early 90s. If the apex court has to step in to admonish those in charge of the highest vigilance offices of the land and seek explanations from the government on its silence on key issues, it stands to reason that its reservations must be addressed speedily and adequately. In fact, whether the CVC steps down or not, things should never have been allowed to come to this pass. Whether he remains or resigns, the damage to the credibility of the government which appointed him has been done.

It'd seem that though the government invariably does the right thing in most cases of impropriety, it does so far too slowly. This ensures that it loses the moral advantage. Now more than ever, this causes great harm to people's faith in the system. Public memory is no longer as short as it used to be, thanks to a relentless media and other vehicles like the internet and Twitter.

Issues of corruption and nepotism assume a life of their own in the public domain and come back to haunt the wrongdoer. We have seen this in criminal cases in which there had been no real closure like that of Jessica Lall or Aman Kachroo. People's tolerance of those seen as cornering public resources or seeking to subvert the judicial system is at an all-time low. This is a warning sign for the polity to set its house in order so that its credibility is not further eroded.

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