Corruption is germane to almost all the problems being faced by the country today. To check this menace, the most important tool available to the state is the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The controversy surrounding the functioning of the CBI has put a question mark on its modus operandi. How can an organisation that is answerable to the government investigate the actions of the government? In the past 68 years, we have brought the CBI to a stage where it’s more or less ‘His Master’s Voice’. Contributing Editor Neeraj Mahajan has analysed in gfiles’ cover story that almost every Director was used more or less as a pawn by his political masters since the CBI was established in 1963. He writes, “The entry, exit or post-retirement lollipops given to CBI Directors have always invited controversy. All the 25 Directors of the CBI so far were either blue-eyed boys of someone or were brought in to fix some political leader—none of them actually served the organisation for the sake of esprit-de-corps or organisational loyalty. They were all asked to follow a specific agenda and were axed if they deviated from the political path.” Why is this happening? The crux of the problem is that the organisation is full of deputationists; they come from the Indian Police Service, serve five to seven years in the organisation and move on to their designated career roadmap. A career decided by their political masters. There is no loyalty or commitment to the organisation.
Another serious issue before the CBI is that the scope and character of crime are changing and so is the nature of its work. Every day, scams of almost `1 lakh crore magnitude and scandals over coal, petrol, gas and mine allocation are being unearthed, which is not possible without active participation by financial wizards, information technology experts and those with domain knowledge. Another basic aspect is that it is an investigative, not policing, agency. The Director has spent his life dealing in policing, not investigation. Suddenly, the aura and power of the post deludes an individual into thinking he is now a being from Mars. He does everything but investigate.
TN Seshan energised a dead Election Commission of India, and showed to the world that it was free from the clutches of government interference. Vinod Rai, former CAG, also showed the way. These cases only go to show that when a bureaucrat is allowed to function independently, the outcome is stupendous. These were ordinary bureaucrats; the moment they were out of the political cage, they held up the propriety and independence of an institution. The CBI can also function similarly if only the government would liberate it from its cage. There is no doubt about the competence of its officers but their performance is constrained because confidential reports (CRs) are written by political masters.
Writer MG Devasahayam has raised a crucial issue of urbanisation; he says, “As of now, as cities grow, inclusive urbanism gets abandoned… This is the hallmark of today’s technology/globalisation-driven urbanisation which is both exclusive and expansionist, keeping a majority of citizens away from the development stream and allocating scarce economic and environmental resources to the select few.” Developing 100 smart cities is a very important political decision of the Narendra Modi government and it has to be seen whether urbanisation will be job- and growth-oriented or not; and, if it boomerangs, what is the alternative model. India has to keep in mind that 10 crore young people are unemployed; if they are not gainfully employed in a certain time-frame, there will be wider ramifications.