Bribeless in Bihar

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by smartindian, Feb 7, 2011.

  1. smartindian

    smartindian Regular Member

    Aug 17, 2010
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    Mysore, Karnataka, India
    By: KP Narayana Kumar/ Forbes India
    Bureaucrats in India’s most corrupt state are facing the heat from their own chief minister.

    Raghuvansh Kunwar could not believe it. For the motor vehicle inspector based in the Aurangabad district of Bihar, the news item in the Hindi daily was more chilling than the December morning. The government was going to throw him out of his house and start a school there. The announcement was made by Bihar’s human resources development minister, PK Sahi, at a public meeting.

    “I was shocked to read the news item,’’ says Kunwar in a tone that barely conceals fear. “I have lived in this house for 20 years with my wife, children and three brothers and suddenly I was being told to hand over my house.”

    The vehicle inspector did not realise then that he was the first prey caught in a new anti-corruption drop-trap devised by the state government and hailed as a model for other states to follow. Kunwar had been booked under a new law allowing for summary confiscation of property of government officials found to be having more assets than their income justified.

    The state vigilance department, the government’s internal watchdog, had found in 2008 that Kunwar owned property worth Rs. 54 lakh but was unable to explain how he could afford it. The department has lined up 18 more such cases to confiscate property valued at Rs. 21 crore before the special courts created under the new legislation, the Special Courts Act 2009. It is reviewing another 87 cases for possible confiscation of assets.

    Kunwar’s case was the first headline-grabber from the Nitish Kumar regime that returned to power with a resounding mandate that many say was an endorsement of the chief minister’s reputation as a leader with a cause. In its first innings, the administration locked up 54,000 people in a bid to break the criminal-politician nexus that had plunged Bihar into such an anarchic mess — a place that everybody knew where it was but nobody wanted to go, even those who had fled from their ‘native place’ for greener pastures. The third axis in the unholy nexus was the government official for whom the general public is the golden goose.

    Blunt Axe No Good
    It was not that Nitish Kumar avoided them in his first term. His attempt was to hit all three simultaneously, though the babudom — cocooned in rules and procedures — turned out to be the most resilient. Kumar set up a Special Vigilance Unit (SVU) in 2006 to go after the big fish in the government. It was a crack team of former Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) officials with a separate headquarters on the rather quirkily named Serpentine Road. The unit soon made headlines as it caught several senior government officials such as a police chief Narayan Mishra and state drug controller Y.K. Jaiswal, with enough wealth to finance the annual budgets of entire villages. State vigilance squads trapped about 400 government officials in the next four years. However, much of it came to nothing as only two of them have been convicted so far. News reports suggest that even the elite SVU managed to file only five First Information Reports (FIRs) in four years.

    Meanwhile, Nitish Kumar was regularly besieged by villagers with tales of corruption on his frequent countryside tours. In Bihar, big ticket deals are few. The corruption that is endemic is petty. For the general public, it is difficult to get government certificates and entitlement documents without paying touts.

    Unlike big deals where money is often received and stashed in numbered accounts in safe havens or as stocks and bonds, in Bihar the nature of corruption is localised. Ill-gotten money hardly leaves the country and is invested mostly in real estate or gold. That means empowered officers can easily help track it down.

    A vigilance officer pointed out the case of a milk-vendor in Patna. The man is said to own a dozen cars, wealth that he acquired by laundering money for government officers and politicians. “Most government departments have their own paan-wallahs, ice-cream vendors and traders who act as collectors for the babus,” says the officer who did not wish to be identified.
  3. vishal_lionheart

    vishal_lionheart Regular Member

    Oct 3, 2009
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    Bihar certainly become more prosperous state in Coming years. Bravo Bihar
  4. SLASH

    SLASH Senior Member Senior Member

    Feb 5, 2011
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    People in Maharashtra can also lodge complaints against government officers with disproportionate assets.

    If you have any complains, use this link...

    Not sure whether any action would be taken or not. But as a citizen it is our duty atleast to make a complaint.

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