Sunday, April 24, 2011

Anna Hazare: Corruption versus Patriotism

Here is a first person account from someone who met him in his own village years back, and came back impressed.
I met Anna Hazare in 1998, during a visit as an Air Cmde from DSSC, alongwith my friends, Ravi Burli and Kalaichelvan. We were then in Ahmednagar at the Armd Corps Centre and school. Having arranged a vehicle to take us to Ralegaon Siddhi, we drove along the Nagar-Pune road, till a friendly ex-army sub directed us. As we entered RS,the road was lined with trees on either side!
The road then took a dip and we entered a verdant village,full of greenery .We met Anna rebuilding the temple with other villagers. My idea was to find out how a Naik ASC driver, could have transformed a village, steeped in the making of hooch, to this green village and had been awarded the Padma Bhushan and the Padma Shri.
When Anna arrived in his village, everything was in his words- imported. The villagers were busy collecting wood to burn and heat the still, and when they started removing th temple wooden beams, it was the last straw! He had Rs20,000/ as his commuted pension, and he used this to buy bricks to replace the beams and make the walls stronger. The villagers were ashamed at this, and joined hands. He identified water availability as the crux, and with the advice of the Irrigation dept, he made a series of check dams, using chain-link pieces and stones, to hold the small runoffs, till the base, where he built a concrete dam to hold the water during the rains.
His efforts were so successful, that in one year the water table rose by 12 ft and water from then on was available to the village on a perennial basis. He then convinced the villagers to adopt-Nasha Bandhi, Nas Bandhi, Chara Bandhi(they were to cut the grass and feed it to the cattle, instead of letting them roam at will and denude the hillsides of precious grass), 100% literacy, no caste discrimination and care for the girl child! Water made Ralegaon Siddhi self sufficient in grain, fruits(they started selling Mangoes, Chikoos, Bananas, Papayas etc), and in his words, the GDP of each villager to Rs 3000/.
They built a double storey building for their residential school, were no student would be failed- a revolutionary idea!
When an SC person was facing financial difficulties, he mustered funds, got the person out of trouble, and even collected funds to arrange for his daughter's marriage!
When I asked why I did not see a domino effect, he put it to leadership. He told me that he did not marry, as it would have diverted his attention from bringing up the village- it took 20 years of hard toiling effort. He did not accept any financial help from my side, as he said that it would lower him in his eyes- he had refused to accept $1000 from a German TV unit for that same reason.
When we left, I saluted him, as I felt deeply humbled in the presence of a man who had achieved so much, in his life. That is Anna Hazare
Air Marshal Raghu Rajan

Airforce Corruption in Aero Shows
Dassault executive accused of bribery. The news item went on to explain that the ‘Indian Air Force has put on hold its dealings with the country manager of French defence firm Dassault Aviation for his role in the bribery scandal during the Aero India show in Bangalore’.

Exactly what was the role this manager played in the bribery scandal? It turns out that a Wing Commander of Indian Air Force, in charge of allotting parking spots for the aircrafts going on show demanded Rs 20,000 for allotting a preferred spot. An official premium for a preferred slot would have been understandable; but a personal consideration? Apparently this gentleman paid the sum, but took his complaint to the higher ups in Air Force, where upon the gentleman was accused of being involved in bribery and black listed, while the officer concerned wasn’t; or if he was, the news paper did not say so! Insiders tell us stories of how even preferred timings of demonstration flights have their ‘rates’!

Now is this your plain vanilla corruption of the usual business man variety or it something else? Air shows are meant for civilian and military aircrafts manufacturers alike to show case their wares. A wrong choice of the aircraft because it was not given a due slot could compromise the lives of passengers if the aircraft is civilian, and compromise national security if the aircraft in question was a military one. See what I mean about corruption and un-patriotism being inter-linked?
Read the full story: Anna Hazare by V Raghunathan

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