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Scrutiny
  
Smell the coffee
Corruption needs the killer dose
12/11/2009

The reputation of Indian politicians and bureaucrats on corruption is truly impeccable. In fact, Indian citizens have reason enough to assume that there are hidden skeletons in every cupboard and dark corners in every lair.

And if a person like Meera Shankar, India’s ambassador to US, attempts to speak up and throw some light, what else can we say other than “Welcome”! Meera Shankar’s diligent complaint to the PMO about huge sums of bribe paid to officials in Indian government establishments by US companies is creditworthy. The same cannot obviously be said of the silence over the letter from the PMO for eight months (curiously broken after the assembly election results came in).

Meera Shankar has cited the report filed by the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which names companies that have allegedly made illegal payments to Indian officials over the years. Most shockingly, it pulls the Indian defence forces into the scrutiny as well. York International Corporation, with their products of heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration, had paid-off $1,32,500 to Indian Navy between 2000 and 2006 to secure 215 orders. A US industrial valve manufacturing company Mario Cavino of Control Company’s Inc., has pleaded guilty of paying $1 million to electricity boards of four countries, including the Maharashtra State Electricity Board. Dow Chemicals has paid $200,000 to Nocil Crop Protection Ltd., including an illegal payment of $39,700 to the officials of Central Insecticides Board. Other cases of bribery include $11,800 to Sales Tax Officials, $3,700 to Excise officials and $1,500 to Customs officials.

The concluding case cited in the letter was of oil and gas major Pride International, which disclosed that it may have made third party payments to be transferred to a government official in India. Our ‘international pride’ is at stake indeed; so is the integrity of our institutions. The government has to stem the rot plaguing these institutions since years. Already, the fact that we need a report by a US agency to wake up to our own skeletons is embarrassing enough.

By:- Sayan Ghosh
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