Economic experts such as film stars, columnists, sports historians, sociologists and other Marxist/pseudo-Marxist commentators have for long criticised the economic policies of the Modi government. India has continuously experienced an economic downturn ever since Narendra Modi has become the Prime Minister.
Along with a free-falling economy, civil liberties are also increasingly taking a hit. Many lifelong critics of Modi have screamed from every possible place explaining how their voices are being suppressed, and how freedom of expression in India is in grave threat.
Both the above have now been conclusively proven by none other than Modi’s own Hasmukh Adhia, who happens to be the Finance Secretary. In a massive scoop, part-time journalist & full-time troll Swati Chaturvedi has written in the leftist propaganda website, TheWire about how there was an “attempt to bribe” Adhia during the Diwali of 2016. The “attempt to bribe” is not important, but the details emerging from it are of serious nature and indict the Modi government.
Firstly, the “attempted bribe” consisted of two gold biscuits of 20 grams each, the price of which has been estimated by Chaturvedi as Rs 2 lakhs. Park that thought and compare how Karti Chidambaram is alleged to have taken a bribe of USD 10 million in the hay days of UPA. If the economy is growing, why aren’t bribes growing? Is it not the cause for concern that officials of the rank of Adhia, are being pegged at only Rs 2 lakhs by bribe givers? Shouldn’t Modi resign over this failure?
The low amount of bribe also reveals how humans have been devalued in Modi’s era. Just Rs 2 lakhs are being offered to a senior finance ministry official. Just Rs 2 lakhs. Let that sink in. A man has to go into a whole lot of trouble to break and bend rules to favour someone who could potentially make crores. But the man’s efforts are valued at just Rs 2 lakhs. Modi has succeeded in reducing the wage rate by this much!
Secondly, the “attempt to bribe” was peculiar in nature because the gold had been sent by an anonymous person. Everybody knows that the basic concept of a “bribe” is to ensure that the receiver knows who the bribe giver is, so that the receiver can favour the bribe giver. But in Modi’s raj, fearing retribution and preferring to maintain his privacy, poor bribe-givers are forced to attempt to bribe officials without even disclosing their name. They then have to live on the hope that the official will guess which businessman is responsible for the bribe, guesstimate what favour the particular businessman might want, and do it anyway.
While Swati has noted the “attempted bribe” she has forgotten to note this aspect of severe constraint on freedom to express the desire to be corrupt. Adhia may well claim that since the sender is unknown, it was never a bribe, since a bribe necessarily means the sender reveals himself. But can we rule out the chance that the sender was intimidated by the growing climate of intolerance in India? Is it possible that at some point the sender was forced to link his Aadhar to some database and hence worried of his privacy, he avoided revealing his identity?
Adhia has also goofed on 1 major issue. Why did he accept the gold. Granted he immediately deposited in the official toshkhana of the Government, and also has a receipt for it, but why did he accept it in the first place? Couldn’t he have taken the help of an astrologer to guess that an anonymous person would drop off 2 gold biscuits at his house? If he had taken this simple precaution, he might have been able to put a board on his house specifically banning delivery of anonymously sent gold biscuits. This failure to act raises substantial suspicion.
With this impressive story centred around a case of “attempted bribery” where neither the bribe receiver kept the birbe, nor the bribe giver identify himself to extract favour, Swati has once again proven her chops as an investigative journalist. Such in-depth reporting on seemingly small issues gets ignored by senior and real journalists.
The huge reduction in bribe value, and the complex method of bribing taken by the briber, where Adhia was forced to guess who the briber is, shows very clearly how Modi has failed in spurring growth in India, and has also suppressed the voices of people who want to speak to officials in his Government.
Very surely, this action will negatively impact India’s Ease of Doing Business rank in the coming year. Gone are the days in UPA era, when bribe giving was done at high values, was done so easily, without any fear of retribution. Today we are forced to debate: Why did an official not accept a bribe, instead of debating, why an officer took bribe.