'Something is rotten in the state of Denmark'.Shakespeare in Hamlet (1.4.90)
In the news and centre stage is the whodunit of some government officials in cahoots with top industrial firms and caught in the act of sharing or selling proprietary/classified information. An open secret suddenly has gripped the uninformed public’s imagination of colossal wrongs or that is how some elements of the conscientious media would have us believe.
Anyone who has ever worked in a government department would know that there is an information supply chain receiving benefits from spin-offs, established gift distribution systems or more direct sharing of the bribes.(strangely, some do receive unsuspectingly and without prior knowledge, too). This labyrinthine chain begins and includes among others the Receptionist( who receives and answers calls),the Registry ,where all incoming and outgoing mail is recorded, the members of the Procurement/Tender Protocol ,the user, the administrator, the independent specialist coupled with the overarching presence of the CEO or the Boss. This entire gravy train is oiled and nurtured by minions of the Corporations agencies or Companies, (mostly at the behest of superiors and the Company owners) that are likely to win contracts or deals.
Therefore, when Mr. Bora the then Chairman and Managing Director of ONGC amusedly remarked at the suspected penetration by Reliance Industries and the Cairn Energy firms into the bidding process and access to privileged information was a smart in-house job sounds a trifle naïve and at worse farcical. This was in 1999 when the countries for the first time had thrown open the hydro carbon reserves to private exploration. That ONGC and Oil India are fighting a losing battle (if not already lost) subsequently with the Reliance and other big fat private majors is the stuff of another episode in this deep, dark, murky tale. The recent cases of coal allotments, telecom spectrum and defense deals have all at different levels been thus compromised. The cost, distribution of the bribes or benefits would obviously have been graded. That the media too is actively a participant in this illegitimate and dastardly act is only underlined by the revelation of the Radia Tapes and Ms Barkha Dutt episode. That this kind of insidious penetration is a systematic case of planned industrial espionage to make the public sector and PSU’s defunct and facilitate a private takeover is larger part of the truth, indeed. Therefore, the nexus of the well placed bureaucrat, politicians, ministers, Company heads and directors, professional liaison agents (read thugs) and their funding agencies cannot be ever overstated. Nothing or no one is sacrosanct or an untouchable.
So why does suddenly Mr. Ajit Dhoval, country’s head of Intelligence rushes into this melting pot fuming and feather’s flying? Is he really concerned with the compromise of national security? Are the big names of Messrs Cairns Energy, Reliance Industries, ADAG, ESSAR group being highlighted to show their similar concerns or distract and deflect the real players by catching up with small time offenders? Or will the big players use their power and connections to be protect through due constructs and legalese like the unsolved case of Balasubramaniam and Reliance of 1988. These and such other questions would need to be asked, if not already done and be answered. And in their seriousness and integrity of effort shall lie the truth of sordid stories and their intriguing connections that soars northwards as always.