The Tehleka.com tapes may only feature a few politically significant people, but corruption is as old as the oaks in armed forces. And mind you, it isn't just the top brass who's involved.
People who should know have certainly known for decades that many junior bureaucrats in the defence ministry -- clerks, stenos, section officers, deputy secretaries and the like, who constitute the permanent segment of the ministerial workforce -- are on the take. The legion of middlemen active in defence procurement has their permanent contacts with these babus.
Senior bureaucrats from the Indian Administrative Service are posted to the MoD for a particular tenure. The officers of the rank of director, joint secretary, additional secretary or even secretary can be shifted out at short notice.
But not the section officer or the clerk, who, once posted, stays put.
They are the ones who inform the middlemen about any impending procurement. They are the ones who leak information about the movement of files within the ministry.
Under-the-table payments at this level are to the tune of a couple of thousand rupees.
The most corrupt among the services is, the Army. Then comes the Air Force and, at third place, the Navy.
Proof of everyday corruption is freely available at cantonments around the country. As any supplier of fruit, vegetables, meat or chicken will tell you, many officers and men sell a part of their free daily rations in the open market.
Parliamentarians cutting across party lines seemed more amused than saddened by the Tehelka photograph of BJP president Bangaru Laxman accepting Rs 100,000 "for the party".
In the Central Hall of Parliament Wednesday, drinking highly subsidised glasses of fresh orange juice, there were many Opposition members taunting BJP MPs that their party chief had "lowered standards" in public life.
Bantered a leading member of the Congress: "It is shocking that he settled for a mere Rs 100,000. Why, even a junior engineer in the Delhi Municipal Corporation would think it below his dignity to accept that amount!"
Laloo is happy
Self-interest propels our politicians.
Just hours after the Tehelka tapes were made public, members of Laloo Prasad Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal were gleefully asserting that there was now no threat to the Rabri Devi government.
The Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had suffered such a serious blow that it wouldn't now encourage the destabilisation of the Bihar government, they said.
Led by RJD leader Ranjan Yadav, a section in the RJD had revolted against Laloo, and there were moves to put in place a rebel government in Patna with NDA support.
All that has now receded into the background after the Tehelka bombshell.
Young V Srinivas, a 1989 Rajasthan cadre IAS officer, found himself kicked around by the Ashok Gehlot government. When a senior minister in the Vajpayee government learnt of his plight, he had him called to the Centre.
Srinivas, who incidentally is married to former prime minister P V Narasimha Rao's granddaughter, found himself posted in the petroleum ministry, where he impressed Minister Ram Naik so much that he was reluctant to release him.
But External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh, who had 'rescued' Srinivas, was keen to appoint him his Man Friday. Though an IAS officer, Srinivas's posting in the external affairs ministry, which the IFS considers its turf, has caused no heartburn.
Illustrations: Uttam Ghosh
SINGLES | NEWSLINKS | BOOK SHOP | MUSIC SHOP | GIFT SHOP | HOTEL BOOKINGS
AIR/RAIL | WEATHER | MILLENNIUM | BROADBAND | E-CARDS | SEARCH
HOMEPAGES | FREE EMAIL | CONTESTS | FEEDBACK