It didn’t need a Rajiv Gandhi to tell us that only 20% of the funds allocated to any public project actually reaches the intended recipients. He only vocalized what was already well-known even in his own time. He was obviously talking about the corruption that occurs at all levels starting from the top. So let’s keep this aside for a moment and focus on the loot that happens at the bureaucratic level.
What I’m talking about is a truism: that many a well-intentioned public project is mercilessly butchered on the bureaucratic table. Put another way, a successful politician is one who ensures that such butchering doesn’t happen—or one who prevents or remedies it as quickly as possible. In other words, a successful politician is one who can effectively rein in the bureaucratic beast, a must for delivering governance. Case in point: Narendra Modi.
Last night a gentleman narrated his experience, which reinforces the faith that millions of people have vested in Modi.
This gentleman, an architect in Bangalore had invested in the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNL) Bonds way back in 1993. Over time, he had forgotten all about it and in 2007, he recalled that he had invested in SSNL. He decided to redeem the bonds and realized that he had lost the original bond certificates. He approached the authority in charge at SSNL and was advised of the procedure to obtain the duplicate bond certificates. The process, which took a few weeks was completed, and he received the duplicates.
Then he applied for redemption, a process that was the beginning of a bureaucratic nightmare.
The officer at SSNL took him on a long-winded tour around red tape. “The cheque/DD has been dispatched sir but the address was wrong.” “The cheque/DD has been torn because it returned unclaimed. Please wait for six weeks.” “New cheque was <Insert favourite excuse> sir…please wait for six weeks.” And so it dragged on in multiples of six weeks. After speaking on the phone to the SSNL officer and hearing his latest excuse, this gentleman decided that he had reached the end of the proverbial rope. At about 4:30 P.M, he wrote a complaint-email to Narendra Modi and left it at that.
The next morning, he found a government employee at his doorstep holding an envelope in his hand: the redemption money delivered, in less than 24 hours. The deliverer then asked him to call the SSNL officer. When my architect friend called him, the man told him to write another email to the Chief Minister informing him that the money was received. When my friend asked him why he needs to do that, pat came the reply: “I was suspended at 5:30 P.M. yesterday sir. Your mail will help my case.”