January 1, 2010 (Calcutta Tube): India was mired in scams and controversies in 2010.
Commonwealth Games scam- The 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, one of the most celebrated event of the year, was criticized by several prominent Indian politicians and social activists. One of the outspoken critics of the Games is the self-styled Mani Shankar Aiyar, former Indian Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports.
In April 2007, Aiyar commented that the Games are “irrelevant to the common man” and criticized the Indian government for sanctioning billions of dollars for the Games even though India requires massive investment in social development programmes. In July, he remarked that he would be “unhappy if the Commonwealth Games are successful”. Miloon Kothari, leading Indian expert on socio-economic development, questioned the justification of spending billions of dollars on a 12-day sports event “when 46% of India’s children and 55% of women are malnourished”.
The CWG scam, exposed by various news channels, caused several heads to roll. Post Games, Suresh Kalmadi was sacked as the Secretary of the Congress Parliamentary party. Central Bureau of Investigation officials are currently probing the CWG officials in relation to various financial irregularities.
While Suresh Kalmadi became the fall guy and the face of the CWG scandal, the rot goes deeper as skeletons keep tumbling out.
The Games was spectacular and Indian sports persons shone, but ahead of the event India was shamed before the world for bad preparations, poor hygiene standards and every other conceivable malfunctioning, including a bridge collapse in the Games village.
2G Spectrum: The 2G spectrum scam, which senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader LK Advani dubbed as the country’s biggest scandal since Independence, had been making headlines for the past several months. The CAG report that triggered the hue and cry estimates it to be a scam of Rs 1.76 lakh crore. Well, if you are trying to figure out how many zeros are needed to write that in numerical, a simpler version is around 40 billion USD.
A Raja, the Telecom Minister who resigned over the scam, is now facing the CBI interrogation heat, but he remained defensive for “revolutionizing the telecom sector” and making mobile phone charges cheaper.
The problem started in 2008 when nine telecom companies were issued scarce airwaves and licences for second generation (2G) mobile phone services at Rs 1,658 crore (less that $350 million) for a pan-India operation. As many as 122 circle-wise licences were issued.
The licenses were issued in a controversial manner of first-cum-first-served basis, costing the exchequer billions of dollars. The cut-off date for applications was also arbitrarily advanced.
Subsequently, succumbing to the stormy protest from Parliament DMK chief M Karunanidhi forced a reluctant Telecom Minister A Raja to resign on Nov 15.
Adarsh scam: Another scam which made headlines was the Adarsh scam, revealed by RTI activists in Maharashtra, exposing how the towering Adarsh Society highrise built for Kargil War widows and their families were illegally occupied by army top brass, bureaucrats and kins of politicians. Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan lost his job over the building that was constructed in the posh Colaba locality of Mumbai, which is considered a sensitive coastal area by the Indian Defence forces and houses various Indian Defense establishments. The society is also alleged to have violated the Indian environment ministry rules.