Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Duck that lays golden eggs

That was one of my favourite stories when I was a little kid. The story about the farmer having a duck that laid one golden egg a day. And the farmer thought that there must be a treasure of golden eggs inside the ducks stomach and in his greed he cuts it up and finds that there is nothing. Evidently this story has been around for too long and even our dumb ass politicians have learnt the lessons from this story.

Law makers are a funny lot. If George Orwell had lived in India he would have had the opportunity to experience a live "Animal Farm". One of the disgusting, crude, unsophisticated, outdated laws in India is the fact that even the head of Government Audit (CAG) does not have any power to look into the accounts of covert military and police operations. Therefore all the STF, BSF and other such operations which are done covertly for security reasons are out of Government auditors ambit. The amount quoted by papers and other journalistic sources are only 'guesstimates of experts'.

Coming back to the earlier story - Veerappan can be seen as that duck. Every year the combined state governments in South India spend circa Rs.100 crores on hunting him down (of course this is experts guesstimate). Roughly 1,500 STF officers comb the forests day on day, year on year. They need food, shelter, clothing, equipment and not to forget their salaries. In critical times this number of STF doubles. But I hope you get the overall picture that all this is to catch a 55 year old, chappal wearing, self-styled commando. And it is well known that the so called STF personnel are sent to these operations not because of their efficiency but because of punishment.

What actually goes on in the wild no one can tell. How many bullets were fired, how many guns were lost, etc etc is something that state governments make a list and get the refund from the central. And there is no one to check the tab. As long as that old duck roams the forest killing elephants and smuggling precious wood, our politicians can be assured of their 'cut' in the un-audited funds that flow down. And that is why I mention that our politicians have learnt a lot from the duck story. They will never catch him or kill him. Instead they will continue to put our nation to shame - so that they can make their money.


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