August 5, 2011
Dr Swamy started his address following the screening of a short video titled “ India- Republic of Scams” which briefly outlines the state of affairs in India resulting from alleged large scale scams and urges people to get involved in saving the country from disaster. Against this background Dr Swamy broke down his speech into three broad headings starting with what is corruption, followed by how it negatively impacts the country and finally what is the solution to the problem.
In defining corruption as a crime when a public office is misused for private gain, Dr Swamy said he was not referring to the small sums of money which changes hands at lower administrative levels which he thinks is unpreventable. What he finds disturbing is the scale to which corruption has escalated depriving the Government of several million dollars of revenue and thereby seriously undermining the financial stability of the nation. He went into the details a couple of such cases where ministers had used their positions for their personal financial gain or their kith and kin. The first he touched on related to the construction of the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project which proposed to link the Palk Bay and the Gulf of Manar. Dr Swamy alleges the project was aggressively promoted with the intention of benefiting the companies of family and relatives of the then Shipping Minister through construction, shipping and dredging contracts related to the project.
Swamy speaks to his admirers after his address
The second was the most volatile and recent 2G scam over which controversy is still raging across the country. A significant part of his address was devoted to this subject in which after explaining its technical details he went on to describe how the then Telecommunications Minister A. Raja, by twisting the rules, masterminded the sale of spectrum to Swan and Unitech in which he had a stake, at throwaway prices on account of which the nation lost a staggering $ 40 billion in revenue.
This apart, he added the complex international financial transactions involved in the process would in itself pose immense security risks as anti national individuals and organizations had stakes in the foreign companies associated with the scheme, which in turn could be utilized to finance and support its own terrorist activities in India. Dr.Swamy named individuals who had connections to the gangster Dawood Ibrahim and the ISI.
Every time Dr Subramanian Swamy quoted how he had thwarted efforts by those in power to cover the scams by moving the Courts, he was met with thunderous applause from the audience.
Among the more serious ramifications of accumulation of such huge quantities of unaccounted wealth Dr Swamy stated was the lavish life style of those possessing them because of which there is an alarming shift from production of consumer goods for the average general public to the catering of luxury goods to the rich where the margins are far more attractive. Also inevitable is the skyrocketing prices of real estate and the illegal trade in food items and necessities resulting in inflation shooting to 16%. Another is the stashing of undeclared wealth in foreign banks which not only do not pay interest but charge a 2% service fee thus depriving the country of crores of rupees of revenue for its social programs. He also went on to explain procedures through which by the use of “participatory notes” the payment of Capital gains tax is cleverly avoided in transactions involving foreign currency.
The impressive audience at the talk.
In providing solutions to the colossal corruption problem Dr Swamy expressed the prevailing laws are sufficient but time consuming but in the short term he suggested the appointment of an independent prosecutor with sufficient powers to proceed legally against those who break the law so swift justice is arrived at. As an example he quoted the case of Bernie Madoff in the US who was convicted and incarcerated within 6 months whereas Ramalinga Raju’s case in the Satyam scandal is still pending mired in the Indian legal system for years. In the long term he called for a Renaissance of Indian traditional social values of Sanatan Dharma and by giving up the current trend of the relentless pursuit of making money ushered in by the hunger for material prosperity and globalization. He pointed out that money alone does not bring happiness as it proven by the fact that droves of wealthy individuals are arriving in India to find peace and purpose in their lives.
The low key organizers were content to let the speaker of the day take center stage and the event was pleasantly free of photo ops making it easy for the audience to focus on Dr.Swamy’s talk. Earlier Hari Pothulu had made the welcome and housekeeping remarks before Dr Subramanian Swamy was introduced by Ram Kumar. Dr Vinod Ambastha moderated the lively Q & A session that concluded the event.