Is it time to party?

Lalit Shastri

The innocent and less informed are in a state of shock over the latest disclosure from Mumbai – yes, its been splashed widely by all sections of the media. The news spread like wildfire and was immediately viral on social media – the news about the long letter said to have been written by the ex-top cop of Mumbai Param Bir Singh and addressed to the Maharastra Chief Minister to tell him in detail how the state Home Minister had set a target of Rs 100 Cr per month as extortion money for several police officers in the commercial capital of India. One of the officers given this target was Sachin Vaze, who was earlier detained by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in connection with a case of terror and a suspected murder. The Bharatiya Janata Party, leading the ruling NDA at the Centre, is gunning for the Maharashtra Chief Minister and the State Home Minister in the wake of the explosive content of this letter, which according to the CM’s office, requires verification since it does not carry the sender’s signature. Notwithstanding the objection raised and the call for probe into this matter, what is important and should ring aloud the alarm bells is the fact that no one who knows how the system works is casting any doubt over what has been revealed. A friend of mine who has served as a top bureaucrat remarked: “This is more or less true of all metro police (the targets could vary). Congress perfected it. Police stations are auctioned. The problem blew up as these guys got too greedy. Why do you think, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) asked for the Home portfolio when it joined the ruling coalition in Maharashtra? All know, it was with a purpose”. My friend was quick in his response when in a state of total distress one had said – “What to talk of Daud, or the terrorists from across the border, when we have the Home Minister of Maharashtra facing the allegation of running an extortion racket in Mumbai allegedly involving several police officers.”

In the midst of all this gloom, earlier yesterday, a JNU alumnus had retrieved a news clipping from his archive and posted it on his facebook page to tell all his friends how many years ago he was part of an anti-corruption movement and had gone with a delegation to meet Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma, the then President of India at Rashtrapati Bhawan to demand action on the Vohra Committee report on the politician-bureaucrat nexus.

Another friend, a reputed historian, scholar and columnist, has brilliantly summed up the scenario with a unique post on facebook this morning. I’m quoting the post in verbatim. It says it all:

Word Problem in Mathematics for Class 3 students in 2021.
If 100 cr per month is collected for one minister by one Assistant Police Inspector then please find out how much will be collected by two APIs, five Patwaris, 10 Excise Assistants, and 15 Assistant Engineers for 10 ministers in four years. It is a given that one Patwari collects double that of an API, an EA collects 1.5 times that of a Patwari and, an AE collects 3 times that of an EA.”

In sharp contrast, a friend sent me from Australia this morning the video of former diplomat Deepak Vohra, speaking on the TEDx Talk platform. He rolled out figures to establish India has come of age and is now a world leader. Vohra concluded his speech by tapping to the popular tune and asking the audience to join and sing in chorus: “Abhi to party shuru hui hai” (the party has just begun).

Surely, it will be time to party, if as a nation all of us join the chorus and convey to those in power in one voice that its high time we use the “explosive letter” to ensure the protectors of the Constitution will never be allowed to play havoc with the system; corruption will not be tolerated; and the guilty, no matter how high and mighty, they shall not be allowed to go scot-free.

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