I'm feeling unusually sad today. The reason? Quite simply, the absolute pig's breakfast that our politicians and bureacrats have made of the Commonwealth Games. Foot overbridges are collapsing. Stadium ceilings are crashing down. Athletes quarters are shoddy and uninhabitable. The list goes on.
"But sad? You? Surely not, Naren!", you ask me censoriously. "Haven't you lived here for the 45 years that you have existed? Doesn't it give you a kind of immunity to disclosure shock that people from other countries don't have. Like you go out with your ABCD cousin eating chaat and where he lies alternately writhing and pooping the next morning, you're tucking into vada pao?"
The answer to all your questions is a shamefaced "Yes". And yet, I AM feeling sad beyond expression. Why this should be so, can't say exactly. I think it's because the shame is now international.
Earlier, you see, we used do all this quietly before our adorably mute domestic audiences who would cheerfully shrug off 1200 crore fodder scams with a cheery "boys will be boys!" and would good naturedly vote in favour of giving them another go. But this time, it's Public. The World Knows! And the World is Laughing! Oh the shame! Even countries like Jersey and Guernsey are planning to pull out it seems. Jersey and Guernsey! Their entire population is less than my housing complex.
Of course India is not silent! No Sir! Everywhere, people are voicing their displeasure. Ranting against Kalmadi. Ridiculing Dixit. Demanding Manmohan Singh's resignation.
And completely missing the point. The reason all this has happened is not that these people are filled with greed and avarice. They are, but if it hadn't been them specifically, it would have been someone else. The point is that our glorious system of benevolent socialistic public service propriety or whatever it is that this country functions under, holds no one accountable. This is endemic to all public institurions large and small. There is no punishment for crime. No one can be sacked for dereliction of duty, for example. And no one has ever served a prison term for abuse of office.
I have no idea why this should be so. Take the case of the toilet paper scam. You know the one. Where toilet paper was bought for Rs. 4000 a roll when it should have cost Rs. 100. The matter 'is still being probed', as far as I know.
Why in freakin hell this should take so much time is beyond me. Here is what you or I would have done.
Step 1. Find out if the toilet rolls have really been bought for Rs. 4000/- each. Clue - See the invoice. You should see a figure which says Rs. 4000/- per roll, or if not, divide the total invoice amount in rupees by the total number of rolls in numbers and see if the answer is Rs. 4000. It is? Good now go to
Step 2. Find out the fair market price for the rolls. Go to the supermarket. Buy a roll. When checking out, see the amount printed on the bill. Does it say Rs. 100? Good. Keep the receipt.
Step 3. Ask the guy who approved the invoice why his ass should not be put into jail.
How complicated can this be? Why should it take a frikkin committee, who, after a month of dedicated scrutiny are still unable to answer in one of two ways
A) Yes, the rolls were purchased for Rs.4000/- per when they are freely available for Rs. 100/- per
B) No, the media is being dishonest. The rolls were bought for Rs. 100/- per and not for Rs. 4000/- per, and please put the said media person into prison
By the way, the news I heard what that the 'probe committe' is 'recommending' that 'Darbari be sacked'. Sacked? SACKED! This is not unlike asking General Dyer to write 100 times "I will not order firing on defenceless people again". The man should be given rigorous imprisonment unless he is able to prove he was acting on superiors' orders, in which case the superiors should be given rigourous imprisonment.
The moral, as far as I can see, is that unless someone is given real punishment, someone nuts are really nailed to the floor, nothing is ever going to change. And to my village idiot mind, it looks the right thing to do, doling out punishment I mean. Compromising the nations honour and all that. But then, that's probably because I'm not a highly trained and skilled bureaucrat.