The Anna Hazare wave has reached Bihar like in many other parts of the country. Students, teachers, senior citizens and many activists took to roads on Friday expressing their solidarity to Anna Hazare, who is on fast unto death to pressurize government for bringing Jan Lok Pal Bill to curb rampant corruption in our system. Corruption is all pervasive and accepted fact of our life.
Bihar has always been known for argumentative middle class. This is the reason why critical media always had strong foothold here. Be it BBC Hindi and Urdu Services or magazines like Dinman, Ravivar and many other Hindi periodicals the hard hitting stories carried by them in 70s and 80s are still referred to by many old-timers.
However, this time it was left upto none else but incarcerated Pappu Yadav to undertake fast in Beur Jail in support of Hazare. It was at his initiative that others followed and on Saturday the Head of Department of Economics in Patna University, Nawal Kishore Chaudhary, also decided to undertake fast.
I often wonder as to why after the infamous fodder scam no major movement or protest has been initiated by the civil society and media, which still have some talented hands.
Today we have media houses, especially channels, like grocery shops whose prime consideration is to make money at all cost and in this world of commercialization people lack options. Very recently some alternative media are providing some space, that too, for educated upper middle class who are only concerned with the goody goody image of the state.
During the last Assembly election media was caught on wrong foot when in every nook and corner the major issue was corruption. People were complaining that corruption had increased manifold and babus have become all powerful and no work could be done without greasing the palms of the dark gods.
The other day newspapers carried front page stories that…“Palatial houses of corrupt officers would be confiscated and schools would soon come up in those houses.” This euphoric news, of course, would cause irritation to a layman who did not know who were the owners of those palatial buildings in Patna or elsewhere.
The fact is people no more trust politicians and corrupt officers are hand in glove with their masters though the citizens have coviction that they are public servants and accountable to them.
In the last week of February 2010 raids were carried at various residential and commercial premises of senior IAS officer, Senthil Kumar, by the State Vigilance Bureau of Bihar. He was then the Commissioner of Patna Municipal Corporation. About 14 months later he is sitting very much tight in his official chair, now as the Director, Census. He presided over the survey work so important for the country with no fear of any lurking problem for him.
In contrast when a minister in the Nitish Kumar cabinet, Jamshed Ashraf pointed out to the C.M about Rs 500 crore scam in his Excise department on January 14, 2010 when the entire cabinet was meeting in MV Ganga, he was simply dismissed a month later. Ashraf was snot challenging the chief minister politically nor was his intention to score point. He was in fact not run-of-the-mill politician, but a Mumbai-based industrialist, whom Nitish Kumar inducted to have a Muslim face. Nobody has heard about the scam since then. Interestingly the newspapers who dared to break this story changed the line from very next day, instead of following up.
Similarly, the CAG recently once again brought to the notice the report of Rs 11,500 crore of pending DC Bills and accused the government of submitting fake Bills when the High Court gave it the time to submit them.
Not to miss another CAG report involving a sum of hundreds of crores
on the irregularities and loot committed in the Kosi flood relief fund of 2008. The report clearly mentioned that the registration numbers of vehicles carrying relief material for lakhs of people facing death were shown to be those of scooters and motor-cycles and not trucks. This exposed the fact that they were fake bills submitted to embezzle the amount.
No political party ever pursued corruption cases after fodder scam owing to the reason that political parties could not think of fighting corruption issues being a party in many decision from time to time.
Political parties thrive purely on corruption right from workers to top leaders.
The most painful part of the story is the passive civil society of the state. The weak civil society institutions and corrupt NGOs never made government accountable even on policy issues. Recently when some social activists moblised people against opening of asbestos factories in rural areas, the government was forced to backtrack.
Hopefully, Hazare movement has given a message to one and all that if you fail to lead on this issue somebody would emerge and society will follow.
लेखक अजय कुमार बिहार केंद्रित वेब पोर्टल बिहार टाइम्स डॉट कॉम के संस्थापक और संपादक हैं. उनका यह लिखा बिहार टाइम्स डॉट कॉम से साभार लेकर यहां प्रकाशित किया गया है.