When Both Sides of the Coin are Dirty
Much has been said about the Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) report about Nagaland for the year ending March 2017. It’s not done yet though until we flip the coin and look upon its other side.
The comprehensive report, which is a legitimate progress card of development projects from the past few years, has clearly mentioned that the state’s government had failed big time by letting various departments siphon off, and misuse, public funds right before its eyes.
Corruption in the state is that rampant that it has gone to the extent of cheating even the aged and the elderly, the most vulnerable section of the society who needs help the most. The fraud came in the form of discrepancies in allotment of benefits to the elderly, and delay in disbursement of pension by up to more than two years. This means some of the pensioners may have passed away waiting for their benefits in the hope of buying medicines, or to buy good food during the final days of their lives. But this is only one side of the coin. The other side is as bad, if not worse, as the first.
The CAG found that most of the projects purportedly undertaken in the state over the past five-six years were either inexistent or incomplete. Wouldn’t it be demoralising if one were to find that the pictures of beautiful buildings submitted to the authorities with “project completed” seals, turned out to be a commercial complex or a house belonging to somebody else; all that after taking funds by the crore, from the department in concern? Who is responsible for such a mess in the state—the government, the contractors, or the individuals who took up the projects? Who will bell these meat-stealing cats? Before disbursing funds, it is the duty of the government to check if certain groups or individuals have completed the assigned work. But this is unlikely considering the history of nexus, working hand-in-glove with contractors. This aspect makes it important for the public to watch developmental projects, at least in their respective area, and report to the authorities if they suspect any discrepancy, including poor work quality.
But the issue in our society is this: even the public turn a blind eye to corruption if the person responsible for the mess is someone they know, or is a well-known personality. The dishonest take advantage of this weakness of the people and misuse public funds over and over again without guilt.
At the end of the day, greedy individuals go home richer; government officials and “some” underground outfits pocket their share of benefits—and the public bear the brunt. This vicious circle has to be broken if we want development. We have to clean not just one, but both sides of the dirty coin.