THE BLOG

Now the Indians Want to Send Their Prime Minister to the Tihar Jail

What is more mind boggling than the penchant of the CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General) of India to project assumed losses of astronomical sums to the government on account of corruption, is the willingness of millions of 'educated' Indians, on whom the West happily outsource everything, to jump in to ridiculous conclusions and create a frenzy like 'coalgate'.

The Indian education system has miserably failed to create a new generation of 'thinking' and discerning minds to control the finger tips on the keyboards which deliver a variety of services to the rest of the world.

Instead millions of Indian youth, with ready access to the cyber world, whip up thoughtless and highly damaging frenzy, like the twitter trend '#coalgate' created Friday on a leaked report alleging Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh of presiding over a scam of $211 Billion involving sale of Indian coal mines to private companies.

1.3 billion Indians who live in India are a species apart, on the surface of this earth, which can't see where the petrol is coming from because it refuses to see what happens worldwide in the supply of petrol. The average Indian believes government subsidy for petrol is the birthright of every Indian. If you are generous, you can attribute this to a lack of education which gives an overview of the world they live in and share with others.

But for millions of educated Indians, who share the information revolution and the cyberspace with the rest of the world, there is no excuse not to realise and accept that there is nothing called a free meal.

For example, conceding that corrupt practices were resorted to in execution of policy, the Prime Minister had already explained why and how the 2G spectrum was liberally distributed, as a Government policy, to encourage the telecom Industry.

This has seen India's subscriber population exploding to a massive 700 million in a few years, who enjoy the lowest of rates anywhere in the world, thanks to the $39 billion the government didn't amass as license fees, which would have been passed on to the consumers.

In fact what the Indian consumer has benefited from is an indirect and unspoken subsidy of call charges equivalent to the same amount, if they were to be compared with the rest of the world. Whether the western investors would have rushed to India to invest that kind of money in licence fees is a different matter.

The new report of the CAG with accusation of loss of $211 billion to the government, which has been leaked and subsequently refuted by the CAG, arises from a government action indented to stimulate the mining Industry.

The government and several Industry leaders have already pointed out why the CAG's conclusions are baseless.

Many of the blocks are uneconomic, you have to share between two or three parties and most of these blocks have hardly been explored at all. So remember, you would have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in exploration, development and infrastructure to exploit them," he said. "I think it will be forgotten quickly.

Auctioning of national resources could bring in huge income to the government, but astronomical being claimed by the CAG can't be found in India. Whether foreigners will invest that kind of money long term even if currency was to be printed off by western governments in various quantitative easing is any one's guess.

In any case, what the Indian public at large fail to understand is that such income to the government amount to indirect tax which the public will have to pay by higher rates for the services from the providers who have to pay the licence fees. Will a nation already crying foul when the government wants to remove various subsidies be ready to bear the burden? What would become of the corporations who paid such license fees?

With the furore created over the issue, with heads of almost every leading Indian corporate from TATA to Arcelor Mittal as well as the Prime Minister himself likely to get a summons from the supreme court and possibly a term inside the infamous Tihar Jail already hosting a few ministers, the Indians can forget not only the development of the coal industry but any reform which should secure India's legitimate position among developed nations.

With the two corporate heads of the $17 Billion Essar group already summoned by the Court in the fallout of the 2G scam, similar action cannot be ruled out and the dust is not going to settle despite any government attempt to brush away the aspersion cast by the leaked report.

If that happens, only the senseless politicians and thoughtless youth of India are to be blamed.

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