Tuesday, March 27, 2012

C’mon General…..give us the juice

General Singh has teased us the way TV channels tease us in their promos about the content following an ad break! But why is he only teasing us? When will he give us the real juice? Or will he suddenly start acting coy, remembering that he was a senior government official after all? Whatever he does…..in a drama-focused media and country….it is hardly fair that the General should stop short of a full disclosure now.

I am not quite sure which way this story is headed. The General himself has been accused by a few journalists on TV of wreaking vengeance on the Defence Minister, Antony. This is apparently, his way of getting even with the government after the age-row bombed in his face (he probably holds a grudge). But if this were true, why would he himself indicate that the minister was shocked, and held his head in his hands in surprise? Why would he then also say that it was not like a direct “ghoos” had been paid to him….it was only an indirect offer; hence he didn’t take it too seriously. Is this why he didn’t file an FIR? It’s strange – I wrote yesterday that any of Anna’s team members or the general public could file FIRs against any minister…..here is a case where the General failed to file an FIR also. What’s it with FIRs these days?!

The media (at least some sections of TV news media) have spun an interesting theory – full of drama. The story goes that the beneficiary of the General’s generosity (that rhymes well!) would be Bharat Earth Movers – a government owned PSU. And since the Defence Minister is the ultimate head of all Defence PSUs, he must be the one who bribed(!) or at least induced the bribe to happen. Truly fascinating. But these are times when anything goes.

This is as ridiculous as many of the CAG’s recent reports. In fact, one of the readers of my blog – Zephyrine Goveas – wrote on how ridiculous CAG can be: “Next the CAG may say that there has not been a war for quite some years and therefore all the expenditure on Armed Forces is a colossal scam and this scam will be bigger than any one can imagine!” And again, Antony may be held responsible for this scam! Ridiculous. The spin that some TV channels have given this is something similar. If there is one thing Antony has never been accused of, it is of corruption.

In the past, I have written that this country assigns no priority to decision making and action orientation. In my post of June 9th, last year (We need efficiency, risk taking, quick decision making and big thinking in governance. Not just freedom from corruption......and a solution to the Lokpal logjam), I wrote: Who would you rather prefer? AK Antony – known as one of the cleanest ministers – but who hardly takes any decisions? Or Praful Patel – action oriented; functioning like a CEO; one who changed the look of the Indian aviation sector – but who has been unable to survive the charge of nepotism and perhaps corruption?” The context of that post was the charge made against Praful Patel for “speedy” decision making with respect to ordering planes for Air India.

AK Antony is clean; but inefficient. Under his watch, decision making has come to a standstill. Antony prefers not to take decisions since decisions can be controversial and he can be accused of playing god, indulging in corruption and many such things. How can a man like Antony be responsible for bribing the General?

And besides, at some level, I feel that if Antony wanted the General to take a particular decision, he would find other ways of getting his work done. At the end of the day, the Executive knows of ways known to all, but told officially to none, to get its work done.

In any case, now that the General has shed his coyness and broken the bribe offer made to him, why is he holding back? Why not go the whole hog and make the ultimate revelation? Will he open his heart up to the CBI, now that an enquiry has been ordered? We’ll need to wait and watch. Hopefully, he’ll decide something while still serving in the army, rather than when he’s become a retired General!

The real truth is that the story has more layers to it than anyone understands right now. If it had been any other minister, I would have believed what the General claimed. Considering that it is Antony (whose personal credibility is similar to the PM’s), I am very circumspect….

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