Monday, September 30, 2013

Lalu's Fodder Scam Verdict


Lalu Prasad Yadav, the comic Indian politician, was finally convicted in the long running Fodder Scam. He, and his clique, was found guilty of siphoning off millions of rupees (950 crore) from the government treasury. His specific punishments will be announced on 3rd October, 2013. He mostly will get a jail time, and lose his political seat in Assembly.

Many in mainstream media are describing this verdict as a harbinger of the end of political corruption in India. But, is it so?

First, let's discuss whether this verdict serves justice or not. Lalu Yadav was accused - and now convicted - of gobbling up millions of tax payers' rupees in this Fodder scam. Justice demands that he returns this money to its lawful owners i.e., the tax payers. Is he and other convicted politicians/bureaucrats are going to do that? Did court order them to work in the market, earn those millions of rupee and pay it back to tax payers? No. Then, how can we say that this verdict serves justice? We can't say any such thing. In fact, what will happen now is going to add insult to injury. If Lalu Yadav is sent to jail, then, his jail term will be financed by, lo and behold, the same tax payers whose money Lalu gobbled up in the first place!!! Are we really going to call this justice? Justice would've been served if the court ordered Lalu and his clique to, for example, work in tax payers' homes - they can do laundry, clean toilet or do mopping and dusting - to repay their money! This way Lalu and his thug buddies will spend whole of their lives working in tax payers' home repaying their debt. This will be real retribution. This punishment will truly give justice to the victim tax payers whose money Lalu and his gang looted.

Second, is this verdict really going to stop political corruption? Not really. There are many such corruption incidents in India which simply go unpunished. Even in this case, Lalu will be out of jail in couple of years, and he surely will run again for ministership once out of jail. The fundamental issue is, that as long as the State apparatus, with its bureaucracies and ministries, is in place, political corruption cannot end. As long as these thugs have a chance of stealing public money, they will steal it without worrying too much about the consequences. As long as they have power to exploit hapless citizens, they will exploit them. Only ending the State and its bureaucracies and ministries can uproot political corruption.

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