Most successful export

A curious facet of the neta-babu driven model of education is that post-independence India’s 35,000 colleges, 744 universities and the 38  Soviet-style Council of Industrial & Scientific Research labs across the country, which employ several hundred thousand higher education faculty and research scientists, haven’t been able to present the nation even one breakthrough invention like the computer, internet or cell phone.

On the other hand, in the matter of devising ingenious ways and means of swindling the exchequer and public, the neta-babu conspiracy which controls the “commanding heights of the Indian economy,” has shown great inventive capability. The latest swindle to be unearthed in Karnataka which is listed high on the corruption index of Transparency International India, involves Dr. Yathindra, son of chief minister Siddaramaiah, who recently achieved national fame for sporting a diamond-studded Hublot watch valued at Rs.2 crore on his socialist wrist.

A year after it inducted Dr. Yathindra Siddaramaiah into its board of directors, Matrix Imaging Solutions Pvt. Ltd, a Bangalore-based medical diagnostic company, was awarded a plum project to set up a for-profit diagnostic laboratory inside the premises of the government-owned Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute. Strangely, five other companies which had initially tendered bids for this juicy captive market contract, withdrew from the bidding at the last minute, leaving Matrix Image’s tender as the only bid. The tender of HLL Lifecare — a Central government public sector enterprise, no less — was rejected because its earnest money deposit was reportedly not received by the tender adjudication committee in time, although the company’s bank records indicate otherwise. 

Meanwhile, even as merchandise and commodities exports are continuously declining, corruption has become India’s most successful export. Currently, several Indian origin members of the British parliament are under investigation for defrauding the public exchequer.

Greed, indifference & disrespect

In recent years the remuneration packages of corporate directors and CEOs have swelled mightily. According to Businessworld (April 18), the country’s most highly-paid chief executives are Dayanithi and Kalanithi Maran, promoter-directors of Sun TV Networks who paid themselves a staggering — brace yourself — Rs.61 crore each in 2015-16. Also high on the CEO pay league table is N. Chandrasekaran, CEO of IT software and services major Tata Consulting Services Ltd (TCS), with a handsome annual pay package of Rs.21.2 crore. And thereby hangs a tale. 

In 2002 Faqir Chand Kohli, then vice chairman of the company who during an almost four-decades tenure (1969-96) as CEO of the company built TCS into the country’s #1 IT software development and services heavyweight, was persuaded to sponsor an annual EducationWorld-TCS Teachers Awards under which the country’s best primary and secondary school teachers were felicitated, celebrated and awarded laptops and modest cash prizes. In 2009 — the last year in which the awards were presented — 20,000 entries were received.

However as soon as Chandrasekaran was appointed CEO of TCS in 2009, he terminated the TCS-EW contract — which cost the company a modest Rs.6-8 lakh per year — pleading corporate poverty. But despite TCS’ poverty, Chandrasekaran’s annual remuneration has risen from Rs.8 crore in 2009 when he was appointed CEO of TCS — where he has admittedly done a good job — to Rs.21 crore, while the modest cheques awarded to meritorious school teachers have become history.

Given that TCS employs an estimated 350,000 qualified professionals shaped by the country’s floundering school and collegiate systems, and earned a net profit of Rs.24,215 crore in 2015-16, one would have expected a modicum of appreciation of the teachers community from this celebrated me-first CEO. And greater respect for Kohli, the founder-CEO of TCS who built the foundations of the company from which Chandrasekaran derives huge personal profit.

Supplicant nation

The next time you see a newspaper or magazine photograph of a national or state politician visiting disaster-hit or drought-prone zones, take a closer look. It invariably depicts wizened, grief-stricken, citizens in pathetic supplicant postures pleading for help and assistance. On the other hand, the demeanour of the nation’s great leaders is usually of indulgent amusement, if not outright hauteur. 

This is true not only of the abjectly poor who bear the brunt of every disaster or drought, but also of the country’s educated business and professional middle class. Visit any government office and you’ll see citizens of sum and substance reduced to humble petitioners by lower division clerks invested with substantial powers to accept and reject — or at least delay — licences, permits and papers. 

But why single out the poor and middle class for servility before authority? Even the mightiest in the land are reduced to tears by the acts of commission and omission of overweening netas and babus. Addressing an august assembly comprising the prime minister, chief ministers and chief justices of the states on April 24, T.S. Thakur, chief justice of the Supreme Court, shed tears while imploring prime minister Narendra Modi and Union law minister Sadananda Gowda to raise the country’s abysmal judges-population ratio from the current 15 per million to 50, as recommended by the Law Commission in 1987.

In your editor’s not-so-humble opinion, instead of “beseeching” arrogant politicians to discharge their duty, a Supreme Court bench should issue a writ to the Union government to raise the strength of the judiciary to specified levels pronto, on pain of being hauled up for contempt of court. Alternatively, the apex court should suspend work until its orders are followed. But in a nation beggared by neta-babu socialism, even the mightiest are reduced to the ranks of humble petitioners.