Saturday, July 30, 2011

Santhosh Hegde's Team - Hold Your Heads High

The words of Justice Santhosh Hegde, Lokayukta in Karnataka,who indicted almost everyone in power and opposition in the massive, illegal mining scam which is pegged at around Rs. 1800 crores, show up the irony of the situation. Chief Minister Yeddyyurappa, four Ministers, former Chief Minister Kumaraswamy, are all named in the report. Yeddyyurappa has famously declined to resign since after he has joined the legion of corrupt Chief Ministers in India.

'I fear for the lives and careers of my team,' said Justice Santhosh Hegde. 'There was a time when they would have been rewarded and promoted for doing their job so well.' Now, we all know, they will be persecuted. Surprisingly by the government itself, by all the guys who wear white.

If anyone remembers the photograph of Justice Hegde and his team as they present the report, they look defiant. Some look apologetic, tired, almost as if they were already waiting for the attack to commence. None but Justice Hegde looks at the camera, and even he looks a bit defiant. That photograph says it all.

This team should actually be proud of what they did. They should be smiling. They should be thumping their chests. They should be carried on the shoulders in the streets, something we do to all common thugs when they return from jail, to cricketers and sportspersons. They have gone beyond the line of duty and risked much to bring out this damning report. They should be looking into the camera and saying, we did it proudly.

This is what we, all of us who went to town over corruption, should be celebrating, congratulating all over the net, the media. The stories of these men and the humongous work that they put in. But what do we - the nation that celebrates World Cup victories like when just got independence do - we step back and wait for the drama to follow so we can comment on that. What now? What will the system do to these guys? We the incorruptible, the ones who light candles against corruption. We ought to be thumping the back of these guys - Hedge and his team. We should be making them feel proud of what they have done. We should tell them that if anyone persecutes them, it will be at their own peril.

Justice Santhosh Hegde and your team, many congratulations on a job well done. You have set a fine example of how to go about such inquiries. You have raised the bar and showed that all inquiries are not duds and a waste of time. You have in many ways shown how excellence works against all odds. Your report has done hopefully begun many such impartial and fearless probes. It could well be the start of our real march against corruption. These are the kind of inquiries, reports we look for if we want to be delivered from this cycle of corruption. It is work like this that shows hope - a dangerously infectious thing. And things might well change.

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