Three ministers ordered transfers for money, says new book

March 4th, 2008 - 9:22 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, March 4 (IANS) Three ministers of state who have been in charge of the revenue department ordered transfers in exchange for money, reveals a retired Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer in his book. A.K. Pande says in “Grit That Defied Odds” (Konark), which is dedicated to officers from the Customs and Central Excise Service, that one of the ministers served in the early 1980s and the other two in the late 1990s. He does not name any of them.

Mainly blaming politicians for the corruption in the bureaucracy, he says: “There has always been an altogether different and rather contrasting strain at the level of ministers of state in the department of revenue.

“A majority of them tinkered with the system for extraneous considerations and were insensitive to the damage that this caused to the system. At least three ministers of state, in charge of the revenue department, abused their positions and power in matters of postings and transfers and interfered even at the junior levels for monetary considerations.

“One of them served in the early eighties… The other two ministers of state served in the late nineties. An effective tool of administration and preventive vigilance was converted by them into a money making device.”

Pande praises some finance ministers in particular for their integrity.

They include Madhu Dandavate, V.P. Singh and Manmohan Singh (the latter two later became prime ministers), incumbent P. Chidambaram and minister of state Anil Shastri.

He also adds: “It must be said in fairness to all the finance ministers of India … that they had maintained the dignity of their office and never misused their power.”

At the same time, Pande alleges that “senior bureaucrats including some at the highest levels had no qualms in destroying the system so long as it helped them to secure their positions or get a particular post or some post-retirement assignment or even a couple of months’ extension. They are as guilty of destroying the system as the politicians”.

Even while paying a tribute to political leaders of the freedom struggle era, Pande, who served the government for 35 years, alleges that politicians took “up cudgels on behalf of the corrupt either openly or behind the scenes…

“There are, however, some exceptional politicians with integrity both in and outside the government. It is heartening to see some of them take a principled stand against corruption.

“In contrast, the conduct of the media has been admirable; relentless in its goal to expose corruption, it has stood by the honest.”

Elsewhere, Pande says: “The rather uncouth and unabashed misuse of the power of postings and transfers or party funds by politicians for personal aggrandizement has been one of the most important reasons for corruption in civil administration.”

The book relates gripping real life stories of several customs officers who relentlessly fought smugglers big and small, at times losing their lives and limbs in the process.

They included Daya Shankar (who took on Dawood Ibrahim), Costao Fernandes (who took on powerful politicians in Goa), B.G.N. Iyengar (who got shot by a Pakistani), Anil Gupta (who was shot and seriously wounded) and S.N. Dasgupta (who was killed).

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