10 Nov 2023  |   06:31am IST

The system is bent towards making the elected, non-accountable to the people

The system is bent towards making the elected, non-accountable to the people

The resignation of the Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa, purely on charges of suspected involvement (without being listed as a suspect or accused) in the allotment of lithium mining concessions, to protect the integrity of his office, is a sign of civility, decency and transparency of the highest office of the government.

It depicts something else, in countries with honest democracy, the entire system of governance is not shaped and crafted to suit those in power. Even the Prime Minister of Portugal is subject to investigation and checks like any other citizen of the country. Here, an inquiry into an investigation becomes a ground for the person occupying the highest elected office of the land.

 Those in power are accountable to the state and the people. It is such a common sense statement which is not at all common at all

Governance is as simple as delivering services for the people who pay taxes and are under your care. And this should be done without bending rules, making policies that are ultimately pro-people and not pro-lobbies like mining, real estate and corporate, and most importantly, there is accountability for non-delivery and poor performance. Let us point to some areas:

Who will pay for the loot of Rs 40 cr from the welfare scheme budget? It is people’s money.

Let us take some examples. In 2017, the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) stated that social welfare schemes, Dayanand Social Security Scheme, Griha Aadhar Scheme and Ladli Laxmi Scheme have critical gaps.

The choice of beneficiaries, either due to incompetency or “otherwise” led to a huge number of people who were not entitled to those benefits availing of them,  with an additional burden of over Rs 40 crore to the exchequer, under schemes for senior citizens, single women and differently-abled.

Even some dead people were identified as beneficiaries.

Was there any further inquiry or investigation? Were the guilty punished or made accountable?

When any State is in a state of dysfunction, it’s like a failure in an exam. Can the same people be promoted to rule again?

Everyone in a State is subject to a performance review except the elected politician. Every selected government servant - the peon, the clerk, the constable, the head constable, the PI to every State and central service officer right up to the Director General of Police and the Chief Secretary have their performances reviewed.

But nobody touches the Godfathers who are elected, not selected

The elected never has any performance review. Does a minister of a department have to subject himself or herself to any performance review which examines if all the promises made have been fulfilled, or the efficiency of the department measured or its dealings with people, the speed of decision making and the manner in which files are handled and decisions made scrutinised?

 And then there are those who are specially selected by the elected. it is not secret that certain police stations and then a cluster of police stations have handpicked people in charge or those willing to “invest” in that position. And those who ‘invest’ spend their time doing everything possible to get returns on their investment. In this race is there any time for the common, man? Can democracy ever be about the common man and not for the politically powerful like this?

The cruel reality is this. Democracy serves only those who serve the ruling elected elite

Greasy palms move files, influences policies and introduces new sections in acts, but never for the common man

A parallel “democracy” like a parallel economy works well. It’s called the greasy palm economy. The “ease” of doing business is directly proportional to the amount of grease applied. People doing big-time projects have a budget for this grease. But a middle or lower-middle-class person, has to run all over the place to get critical work done like getting compensation for crop loss, reimbursement for getting bhandaras and broken river embankments repaired to prevent flooding in their agricultural fields, or simply make rounds of government offices to get their welfare scheme money disbursed.

Accountability is brushed under the carpet, people are being cheated, but this is what you get when votes are sold

When votes are sold, you lose control over ports, rivers, fields and hills slopes. And you have no right to ask questions when you allow religious institutions to influence your voting decisions. These priestly decisions ultimately lead to political choices which lead to the absolute ruin of the land which you will leave behind for your children and their next generation.

There are drug gangs making a State a drug manufacturing exporting and trading point. Rapes and sexual violence is happening with impunity, our fishermen have no protection from LED light-laden trawlers sucking out our fish, and virtually no money has been recovered from the Rs 35,000 crore and counting mining scam in Goa, with some of the perpetrators of this mining fraud are in line to get fresh rights to bid and win mineral blocks.

Real estate is being bought left right and centre at times years before an airport or flyover is built. Mopa is not merely an airport project. The real estate game around the Mopa airport is worth multiple crores and will escalate more than the cost of the airport itself. 

Who are the buyers? When did they buy it? Dig deep- a merry dance of real estate, dancing to the tune of politics and vice versa is what has led to changes in various acts. As people are increasingly agitating to fight to protect the land, the land itself has long gone, often sold by absentee landlords who sold the future of those living on the land for centuries.

Panjim was once a gorgeous pretty little town with prettiest architecture and exquisite heritage. The alleged scam-ridden city project often called the Scam City project had literally butchered Panjim into a dug-up, dusty town, with the road digging and construction madness leaving Panjim in utter ruin. Who is accountable? Everyone is passing the buck but the Smart City project body has not even put its hand up to say , we are sorry, we will repair this at this specific time.

Why does this happen? It’s simple- Inefficiency and corruption are bedfellows

The tiny fish feed on weeds, the bigger fish feast on the tiny fish, the still bigger fish consume the medium-sized ones and then the biggest aqua creatures feast on all others in the food chain. Similarly in a ‘democracy’ without accountability, everyone feeds off each other for the loaves and fishes of power and greed. But do those in power realise what are leaving behind for their future generations- an absolute wasteland

Lokayukta, the biggest institution to probe and recommend action against official corruption has been undermined

Former Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar constantly spoke about creating the Lokayukta to check official corruption. But the words of the former Lokayukta clearly reveal that the former Chief Minister was a man who did not give any teeth to the Lokayukta leaving it literally helpless and powerless. The reality is that there was no desire to constitute a powerful Lokayukta institution. This was felt acutely by former Lokayukta Justice Misra.

In 2020, Former Goa Lokayukta Justice Prafulla Kumar Misra (retd) in an interview, called for “giving teeth to the institution of Lokayukta”. He mentioned he was “disenchanted” with the Goa government as it has “to date has not executed a single Lokayukta report.”

An obvious example of how toothless the Lokayukta was made, initially by the Parrikar government was the manner in which it removed the power of prosecution from the Lokayukta. Under Section 17, the power to prosecute should be given to the Lokayukta. This power is there in Karnataka and Kerala (laws) — from where the Goa (Lokayukta) Act is modelled. But the Goa Lokayukta Act doesn’t state ‘power to prosecute’.

 Justice Misra revealed his utter frustration in an interview to the Indian Express on October 7, 2020. In response to a question he said, “Except one, most of my reports have not been accepted or executed. That’s a hurdle. Goans come to Lokayukta with all hope but ultimately nothing happens, and that is some sort of hurdle.

I can explain this through a case. In a particular case, to expand a tarred road four mango trees were cut in the constituency of an influential minister without any procedure. The owner came to me with grievances. I said he needed to be compensated, as they were fruit-bearing trees and were cut without following any law. The Act says no Lokayukta order can be challenged, but here the Advocate General advised (the government) to approach the High Court.”

If we can really take pride in the democracy we claim to have, then those who are elected to serve must commit to leaving behind a Goa better and more sustainable than what it was when they started ruling, because we are only borrowing this land from our children. The real estate shark and his Godfather obviously do not know this.

If there is any doubt learn what former South African President Nelson Mandela said, at a Special session of the UN for Children, in New York in May 2002:

“History will judge us by the difference we make in the everyday lives of children.”


Idhar Udhar