The article on ‘Culture of Corruption’ written by Hanjabam Iswarchandra in The Sangai Express on 9th June 2008, encouraged me to supplement with the following observations. The saddest part today in Manipur is the acceptance and patronage of it under this regime. Rather than serving the people, all attention is focused on financial transactions and these are guided by the extent of gain which will accrue thereof. Award and execution of works are approved only when bargaining is completed.
Every conceivable pressure directly or indirectly is exerted to clinch the deals favourably. The power wielded by them is mainly used for extracting maximum gain for themselves. Over and above these, the help of police commandos and even those of some insurgents who are prepared to do their bidding, are availed of on a sharing basis to further their aggrandisements. These groups devise their own modus operandi by way of threats, blackmailing and sometimes outright intervention.
Though there is open condemnation of UGs from every platform and counter-insurgency operations are carried out against armed wings of various insurgent groups yet help of some so-called friendly Finance Wings etc are welcome in Imphal area (because head offices are all here) as long as secrecy is maintained. These in turn naturally build up nexus between police commandos and those section of DGs useful to them. However, if there is danger of exposer, they are silenced through elimination. These would explain bizarre incidents of killings.
As most police personels including commandos like those in other departments entered service through hefty payments, no one dare enforce discipline on them as they also enjoy protection. In fact, because of their services being utilised during elections, particularly in urban areas, there is very strong bond between them and those in power. Thus, they can be said to attain the position akin to Hitler’s Gestapo because they wield powers even over other wings of the police forces. Therefore, to begin with unless they are reined in, disciplined and rotated at regular intervals, the image of the police will not improve and public will never place their trusts on them.
Syphoning off and diversion of funds, are done after drawal and making payments for works where percentage cuts/shares have received ignoring the others. Similarly in cases of big projects, like Capital Project, National Highway expansion, Sewerage and Sericulture projects etc, works were started by construction of site fencing walls or digging up roads of the city. These are done in most cases after acquiring land by evicting settlers and demolition of buildings to enable drawal of earmarked funds. Same is the case followed in relation to smaller works too. How much progress is made or time schedule is followed is a different matter altogether. In addition, funds relating to Centrally Sponsored Schemes are drawn and kept in the State miscellaneous funds thereby converting them as State resource or reserved funds. These would explain the inability of the State Gov’t to furnish utilisation certificates.
It may be added that all these are possible because a section of officers/engineers is always more than willing to co-operate and help in every way. Those of them who are close to the establishment are a part in the Scheme of things. They can also operate more freely as they enjoy protection and are immuned from scrutiny of their actions, the system having been reduced non-functional. The failure of the Government is commonly attributed to the bad law and order situation caused by insurgency. This is true to a great extent but at the same time, it provides good opportunity/excuse for exploitation for personal gains.
Corruption as we know is one of the oldest evils of any society and Government in the world through out all ages as the same is born out of human greed leading to misuse of power. However, the difference in the case of Manipur today is its all pervasive nature from top to bottom. Therefore, any semblance of vigilance works of ‘Ombudsman’ appointed to oversee the functioning of Government agencies are rendered totally ineffective under the existing dispensation. There is simply no political will to tackle the menace of corruption beyond paying lip service when allegations are countered. Moreover, the concept of accountability hardly exists. The permissiveness of democracy makes it possible for election of all types of persons as people’s representatives including quite a few who are regarded as poor specimen of human beings. Further, the stringent anti-defection law enacted in 2004 amendment, had no doubt been greatly effective in checking defections and ensured stability of Governments. On the other hand, this has also led to many Chief Ministers becoming too authoritative because the danger of being toppled had been very much minimised, proving the principle correct that too much job security tends to make one autocratic. And the age-old adage attributed to Pluto that “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” is what we find and experience today.