Sreenivasan Jain: In defence of the corrupt

Sreenivasan Jain has made a transition from his traditional role of asking tough questions to people accused in various scams and scandals to defending such individuals using dubious means. We had shown earlier how Sreenivasan Jain had joined the Adarsh Liberal clique of journalists and formed a “Teesta Defence League”.

Through his tweets Jain questioned the raids on Teesta and asked “why this heavy hand” was used in dealing with Teesta’s “financial impropriety”, as if financial impropriety is some chhota- mota bomb blast which needs to be ignored. Sreenivasan Jain perhaps doesn’t know that raids are one of the most common forms of tackling financial crimes, as Income Tax Department regularly carries out on tax evaders.

Next, Jain asked for examples of CBI raids on NGOs, hoping that no such examples would come up and he can easily cry “Teesta is being victimized”:

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Smart Trolls swung in to action yet again, and showed him the Truth hidden in his Hype. This report from 2013 says 24 cases of NGOs suspected of flouting FCRA norms were referred to the CBI. This report from 2012 says 12 NGOs were under the CBI scanner for FCRA violations. If Jain himself admits that there could have been “financial impropriety” why does he want Teesta to get special treatment, when in the past numerous NGOs facing similar charges were under CBI investigation? And if Teesta is in fact completely innocent, why this reaction to a probe? Why is Jain so desperate to protect a person accused of corruption?

Further, in his latest episode of Truth vs Hype, Jain moves to another person accused of “financial impropriety”. He goes to NCERT, where the Director, Parvin Sinclair, resigned from her post halfway into her tenure over alleged financial irregularities. It is a convenient case for him because her Christian surname juxtaposed against Saffronization claims is easy propaganda material.

In May 2012, under the non-victimizing, non-saffron UPA Government, the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) recommended an inquiry against Sinclair based on allegations of irregularities in the purchase of paper worth Rs 50 crores. Outlook, at that time had reported that from the audit reports it had accessed it was evident that although rules said the paper needs to be tested before procurement, Sinclair had begun the process of allocating contracts before receiving the test reports itself. As the investigation went on, Sinclair put her side across, but the CVC wasn’t satisfied. Since then, the issue had remained pending with the ministry without any action being taken.

In any other circumstance, a neutral reporter would ask why the Government is sitting on a case of corruption and not taking any decision. But Sreenivasan Jain chose a different path. He tried to whitewash this scam, by glossing over some selected facts, and straight away asked Sinclair her version. She said to him:

“If I remember correctly and you will have to check the files, it was done simultaneously (with the placing of order)”

There you have it. The Director of NCERT herself admits that she began allocating contracts “simultaneously” even when the paper was being tested. Can anyone place an order for a product even when the product is not certified to be of standard quality?  Do you normally go to a clothes shop and purchase a shirt even when you are trying it on? A neutral journalist would have picked up this immediately, but Sreenivasan Jain did not.

Secondly, she just relies on her memory, does not even try to say confidently that she had not broken rules, nor does she provide any documentary evidence. Even Jain never insists on any such evidence. If indeed she had a water-tight case, and Jain knew this, both of them would have made sure they present this to the public, to make it clear that Sinclair was victimized. But both of them did not go down this road and this is revealing.

Well maybe for Jain, these were “chhota-mota” aberrations and he gave her a clean chit. He further says that the first topic HRD Minister Smrit Irani brought up in her meeting with the NCERT, was of this pending allegation. Instead of lauding a minister for taking action on a case of corruption, which was pending for unknown reasons with the ministry, Jain raises suspicion as to why this was the first topic. Hilarious.

Jain then goes on to suggest that Sinclair might have been removed because the NCERT had almost finished revising the curriculum, and that was not ideologically acceptable to the Government. But, he himself unknowingly punctures this argument saying that the curriculum revision was halted because the formulation of the New Education Policy, with NCERT and wide-spread consultations was already under way, after 30 long years. Lastly, Jain digresses and says the original complaint was filed by Right Winger Dinanath Batra. Were Audit Reports saying Sinclair flouted rules also written by Batra?

In his Truth vs Hype show, Jain also talks about the resignation of IIT Delhi’s director Shevgaonkar, and again links it with Government Interference etc but never mentions that Shevgaonkar, who is rumoured to have written speeches for Rahul Gandhi, oversaw the signing of an MoU to set up an overseas campus of IIT Delhi, which was in complete violation of the IIT Act.

Similarly he talks about the rejig of the council at ICHR, claiming leftists have been shunted out. But he fails to mention the irregularities at ICHR, under the earlier “leftist” councils, where crores of rupees were spent over a 9 volume book project which was started 26 years ago and is still going on. He also does not mention that people like Purabi Roy, a renowned scholar and historian who also happens to be the wife of a CPI MP in the Rajya Sabha, continue to be in the ICHR, along with UPA appointees like  Sachidananda Sahai.

Thus over the past week or so, Sreenivasan Jain has been ultra defensive about Teesta Setalvad, who accepted illegal donations of $ 2.9 lakhs, has belittled a CVC probe into financial irregularities at NCERT, and ignored legal issues at IIT Delhi and ICHR, only to support his coterie and to claim the Government is either vindictive or interfering with institutions.

It is only in Indian Mainstream media that we see journalists baying for the head of ministers for giving an NOC to a person accused of a financial scam, to meet his (edit) ailing wife, and the same journalists later defending and belittling the crimes of other people accused of financial impropriety with impunity.

co-founder, OpIndia.com

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