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Thursday, 22 March, 2001, 12:16 GMT
India arms scandal: Should the government step down?
India's Government continues to reel from an arms bribery scandal, despite the resignation of the defence minister.
The departure of George Fernandes has only served to galvanise opposition parties, who are disrupting the work of parliament and calling for the whole government to step down.
The scandal broke when an Indian website released secretly filmed video footage implicating senior officials in corrupt arms deals.
Is the whole Indian Government guilty by association? Should it resign en masse? Would that be enough to restore confidence in India's politicians?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
This "scam" bears all the hallmarks of a political conspiracy. Assembly elections in five states are round the corner and the Congress party had no issue to fight on. By not allowing the parliament to function and behaving in such an irresponsible manner when the government has removed the people allegedly involved and also declared an enquiry at the highest level, is totally unjustifiable for the Congress Party. Incidentally the biggest scams took place under the aegis of the Congress Party and we did not see them resign or even take any action against the accused.
The destruction of the Buddhas seems minuscule compared to the
bribery scandal in India. The Taliban have destroyed treasures of art but the fundamentalist Hindu BJP have
destroyed something that cannot be measured and that is "trust". Trust and faith of the Indian people.
R. Khan, England
No, the Government does not have to resign. In fact, it must not. Rampant corruption is a problem that probably was, and is, endemic to all Indian governments. Corruption has to be dealt with by making government processes simpler and more transparent.
If the present government addresses corruption as an issue and changes the system, it would do the country a great service.
Quitting will only reduce the pressures to change the present system. As a result it may bring in a new government that may remain as corrupt as ever before.
This whole thing is absolutely ridiculous:
Generals and top government officials duped into accepted "bribes" from "arms dealers" who turn out to be tabloid journalists! An Opposition that is just as corrupt embarking on self-serving moral posturing to gain power for itself!
And all in one of the poorest, most divided countries in the world - the question of our government's legitimacy has been answered yet again.
Corruption is common to all mankind. At least in India we have a free and bold media that is ready to capitalise on the follies of the politicians. Corruption is not "endemic" to Indians (as someone on this board has mistakenly said), but is to a certain section of the entire world's population. Haven't we all heard of the "Watergate" scandal in US and ""Hinduja passport row" in UK?
The George Fernandes' action to resign is admirable. Not since Menon's resignation following India's pathetic showdown with China has any defence minister owned up to his failing with such forthrightness. But Fernandes is quite obviously not the man with his hand in the till. And his action is meaningless, if the real culprits are not brought to justice and held accountable. It has been over a decade since the Bofors scandal broke - but we are no closer to discovering who really benefited from that deal. It is common knowledge that corruption is widespread in India. It would be news if people were held accountable for once. And for starters let's begin with the Congress coming clean on the Bofors issue.
Should the present government resign?
Not unless it is proven that the whole
government was party to the scandal.
Law and politics should be allowed to
take their course; otherwise we
would be throwing the baby out with the
The question should be that what should the parliament do to rectify the corruption problem in India, which has been a part of the popular culture. "Throw some cash around and the work will be done", is the belief, and is not far from the truth. I am not doubting the sincerity of Vajpayee, but it takes more than one person to run a country. Resignation of the government at this time will not bring about any drastic change in the mentality of the offenders, as we know they reside by the hundreds in every political party. The people who have done wrong should face the consequences.
Corruption is universal in India.I don't think it can be eradicated in India. What bothered me most was the fact that the very people responsible for protecting the country have been dumb enough to keep talking to agents of a fictitious company. How do we expect these people to deal with countries like Pakistan and China?
The government shouldn't be dismantled because some of its elements are corrupt.
Those found guilty should be brought to justice. We shouldn't try to replace the
brain because there is a tumour in it. Lets get rid of the tumour.
Indian democracy suffers from extremes. It is the widest known fact that politicians in all political systems are corrupted by their power. The Indian system has the strength to expose its embarrassing failures, and yet will now suffer the dangerous consequences of those actions that sensationalise half-baked allegations based on information from immoral people. The Indian people alone should exercise their right to "throw the rascals out" through constitutional means. Chaos in parliament, and on the streets make Indian democracy a sham.
India's first priority is stability. India can not afford an election right now. Also it is not a question of removing bad government and bring a good one because its a selection between bad and worst! I think they should punish whoever was involved instead of bringing whole government down.
Corruption is endemic to Indians and politics is no exception. However you cannot help but feel that there's room for change, no matter how late or how little. I'm always very optimistic that things will get better. It's now or never, it's a beginning. OK, we learn from our mistakes -- the lessons are learnt hard. But so be it. This government has no ethical right to remain in power. One might argue, if not the BJP, then what? The Congress party is no less corrupt. But sorry, that is not an excuse for a party to continue to trade corruption as it has. The buck stops here.
Oh dear, oh dear! Imagine that, corrupt politicians! How fortunate we are to be able to look at the Palace of Westminster and see what fine, upstanding and total incorruptible people we have running our country! The words "Throwing stones" and "Glass Houses" spring to mind...
Vajpayee government must quite immediately. The proposed enquiry commission is only an effort to get some more time for his so called alliance making
more money. Let them give way for younger generation.
I think there has been more corruption scandals in Italy. Where governments changed more than fifty times and there has been no discussions like this. Why for India?
What the people are and should be more interested in, is in the guilty being brought to books. There is absolutely no need for taking any draconian steps like making the government to resign. Corruption is all-pervading in this world and targeting any one party for it is senseless.
R. Gupta, Indian in UK
This problem is not going to be solved by playing musical chairs with the Government. It's only going to be solved when Indians put their petty differences aside and work to foster an atmosphere where people can spend their energies improving their standard of living through legal means - rather than grafts and bribes!
Mr Vajpayee is one of the stalwarts of Indian politics and the best man to root out all that is bad in the Indian political system. The roots of corruption are too deep and they cannot be cleansed overnight. And I think resignation of all the tainted ministers and suspension of involved officials proves Mr Vajpayee's sincerity.
The Government should not step down.
With 1 billion population and different languages/ races/ sects/religions, the PM of India is the toughest job and Vajpayee has so far done well to manage all aspects. If he goes, who will be the next "PM" for India??
Let's say they step down. Who will head the next Government? Take a wild guess.
Yes, of course...you don't have to be a rocket scientist to answer this one. And the answer is
- another bunch of corrupt crooks, disguising themselves under
the banner of the flag of the Indian National Congress!
Come on, if it's going to be a game of yo-yo between two
corrupt parties, in the interests of saving
some valuable money and time, I'd
say, let the BJP run its term.
V. Anand, UAE,
The goverment should not step down. Corruption is endemic in India. Any alternate government is unlikely to be any less prone to corruption than the present. A solution would be for the judiciary to intervene. The Supreme court could set up an investigative committee on corruption. Along the lines of the Senate investigatory committee for Clinton's alleged pardon fraud.
I am at a loss to learn this episode. How come such smart people got into this scandal for such small sums of money? It should be thoroughly investigated and the guilty punished to maximum. I have no sympathy for corrupt people but let us take a deep breath and let the complete truth come out in public. In the end truth will prevail.
India's politicians should take tips from Bill Clinton on how to remain popular and corrupt at the same time. That way, there is no question for people feeling any need for changing the government.
Not at all. Asking for the Vajpayee government to resign, is the most stupid of things. The government has acted responsibly and seems to be honest with the whole business. It has now ordered for a judicial probe under the chair of the country's top court. This government is still better than what we had in the past.
The government should not resign until the guilt is proved and only those persons should be removed from the government who are found guilty.
The amount of interest generated shows that nobody cares, the Indian system is rotten to the core. The BJP is no different to any other party, civil servant or judiciary in India. The new generation is born of a corrupt system in a corrupt way. India is slowly but surely going to the wall.
Vivek Sharma, Canada
India's web of corruption has integrated itself into the system for over 50 years. Is the BJP, who came to power only in 1998, supposed to eliminate corruption which has sadly become a part of everyday life? Think of how much progress has been achieved and how much we have to lose by seeing them off. Now the call comes for change, the BJP should capitalise to ensure that this decadent system of bribery should be dealt with strongly.
The sooner the communalist BJP - our Indian Taliban that includes members who are charged with the destruction of the Babri Masjid in Senior Ministerial positions - and their allies are out the better. A new government must return the country to the ideals of secularism and an anti-nuclear policy.
Jyotsna, India, presently in USA
The government has lost its moral right to govern, they must resign. When film producers can be arrested just on the tapes then why not politicians?
They all should be arrested and kept in jail (preventive) till the enquiry ends.
Ramesh Braroo, USA
India is just trying to match its style to that of America. No one criticizes the Bush dynasty for doing the same thing, do they?
This government is the only government that did something for Hindus in 50 years of so-called "freedom". Congress is losing it's grip from ruling India, so it's paying people to play games and take this leadership out. There are some bad people in the BJP. But still I am so happy with their work so far - no need to resign!
There should be a thorough inquiry. The guilty must be punished, not like the inquiry into Bombay communal rights.
The BJP government should accept its misgivings courageously. It should accept the sins and faults of its government. They should call for a new mandate by the Indian people as they have seriously lost their credibility. The damage has been done.
What the Tehelka people did is an eye opener for the Indian defence apparatus. If this could be done by two journalists then any foreign spy agency can make inroads into the Indian defence establishment with ease. If two naive guys could purchase sympathy of the BJP president by a meagre amount of one hundred thousand rupees then the same could be purchased by one hundred thousand dollars.
In the tapes, nowhere Bangaru Laxman has asked Tehelka
to give money for the party. It is only Tehelka saying
it wanted to give money for party fund. As a common man
I don't find anything wrong. Even if you are running
any welfare association and somebody is giving it as
a fund you will accept it. Also the questions are
with specific intent asked by Tehelka like "Do you
accept for this?" which can have any meaning.
I am plainly disgusted with this BJP or NDA Government, by whichever name they want to call themselves. They came to power riding on the wave of religious bigotry, screaming shameful slogans like "Garve se kaho, hum Hindu hain". But what kind of Hindus are they? They have disgraced the good name of Ram and Laxman. And they greedily grab bribes privately for national security and defence, while on the other hand publicly tout their greatest strengths as the same national security and defence. They make our great India a laughing stock in front of not only the world but also Pakistan across the border. They are the greatest bunch of crooks and thugs who use Hindu Sadhus and the Hindu religion to win elections by using the backdoor methods. Bangaru Laxman is supposed to be the pillar of the BJP and is its Party President. He should be debarred from using the name Laxman. His name should be Badnam Bangaru. They should resign en masse and resign now. The BJP party stinks.
Indian politics and civil service are riddled with corruption.
It seems now that even the armed forces have been corrupted.
The faith of the people in democracy and in the BJP is at stake. Vajpayee should resign.
No need to resign. Investigate the matter and get the culprits. Both parties now come together on a debate on how to get rid of the corruption. Also, the opposition should act more maturely.
Definitely not. Those posing as arms
dealers should be arrested and
charged for impersonation. Money
was offered to the BJP Party, not to
an individual. Impersonation to
encourage anyone to commit a crime
should be an indictable offence.
Asking for the Vajpayee government to pack-up, particularly with respect to the Tehelka episode - is the most stupid of things. The government has certainly acted responsibly and seems to be honest with the whole stuff. It has now ordered for a judicial probe under the chair of none less than the top of the state's court. A guy with some sense of reason and logic would wait for the findings and not rush to swift conclusions. Not just that, he would also doubt the veracity of the so called Tehelka "findings"! These folks giving Rs.100000.- (hardly approx. US $2100, pittance), for which in return they were receipted too, and then calling it corruption is ludicrous and also clearly indicates their motive to make a case out of nothing, but only to serve an ulterior motive. If every other shady guy comes up with something like this, and if ministers and heads of parties are going to bow out, the result could only be chaos and not governance.
Somdev Roy, USA
Resign for what? Let the inquiry be finished! This isn't Saudi Arabia. Did Tony Blair resign for the passport scandal? Please look at your own country, Jeff Scholey.
The BJP has no moral right to continue to be in power. This was the party which threw mud on opposition parties for corruption and it is a pity that it finds itself deep in corruption. And that too in the Defence Ministry which is the heart of security and integrity of any nation. Clean your house before you throw mud on others, Mr. PM.
da Costa, India
Ashok Patel, USA/India
I really don't care if this government resigns or not. I want every on of those found taking money on the tape hanged. Probes and change of government will only bring misery to the people not the truth.
The tapes disclose corruption is endemic and permeates the whole ruling class. The Vajpayee government has lost its political mandate
(whatever the legal arguments may be) and must go.
This is the price a coalition government pays when it has a conglomeration of several small parties not having a similar ideology. I do not think the government should step down. Look what happened in the UK. Because of the hasty unsubstantiated revelations of the British media, Tony Blair forced Peter Mandelson to resign. Now Blair looks a fool. Vajpayee should not have requested or accepted Fernandes' resignation. The government should hold on until a quick inquiry is completed.
All I can say is well done BJP, this scandal could not have happened to bigger hypocrites.
Jeff Scholey, UK
16 Mar 01 | South Asia
Arms scandal paralyses India
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