Sunday, September 4, 2011

Wealth disclosures by Indian ministers

What a joke!! What an insult to the intelligence of the public !! Why would they take so long to disclose, then take even longer to stonewall any attempts to make the information public, and then finally come out with something that is totally unbelievable and incredulous.

Many ministers like Farooq Abdullah, Didi Banerjee etc have collective personal assets of less than 10 Laks and even Sharad Pawar has less than 10 crores. There is something rotten in the Republic of India. Despite the recent success of the Anna Hazare led Lok Pal movement, our thick skinned politicians have not learnt their lessons. They have neither made full disclosures, and even where they have made partial disclosures the values have been so understated as to make a joke out of the whole process. For example our honourable Aviation Minister has disclosed an apartment in tony Worli worth less than 8 laks, which is less than the cost of a parking space in most buildings there. Or is he confusing the monthly rent for the capital value?

Anna Hazare,s initiative to bring accountability into public life would be completely meaningless if our elected representatives continue to take such matters lightly. Even the new proposal to call back MP's may not be enough. We need to look at the laws relating to perjury in Parliament and disclosures that they are required to make and frame severe penalties for offenders, including loss of the asset that is either not disclosed or under disclosed, followed by a lengthy jail sentence which will keep them and the public out of harms way.

I just checked the processes in the US. Not that we have to follow them blindly. The mayor of New York city Mr. Michael Bloomberg, a multi billionaire, made full disclosures of all his assets, transferred them to a trust and to money managers with whom he maintains no contact. In public office, you not only have to be clean, but also scrupulously avoid any contact with anything or anybody that may contaminate your reputation, or even remotely influence your decisions as a public officer.

Our politicians on the other hand treat their election to power as a free licence to loot and pillage our country and accumulate personal wealth with complete impunity and total immunity from any remote chance of punishment.