BHAMY V. SHENOY writes: In Non-Resident Indian circles in the United States, the first word that escapes the lips of NRIs when they start fashionably talking about the factors hindering the rapid development of the motherland is “corruption”.
Even those who have long since lost touch with the ground reality back home start waxing eloquent, outlining grand strategies to “weed out the menace”. They also give examples of how the US is fighting corruption and how it is successful due to “individual” involvement.
But how many of these NRIs reflect upon the role they, as “individuals”, can play in fighting corruption even when they are thousands of miles away from India id est Bharat?
Even as we speak, many NRIs from Karnataka are getting ready to take part in the fifth World Kannada Conference 2008 to be held by the Association of Kannada Kootas in America (AKKA) in Chicago, Illinois, on August 29, 30 and 31.
How many of our Kannada bandhugalu and bhaginiyaru who are packing their bags for the jamboree are even aware that they have a rare opportunity this time to get directly involved in fighting corruption in their home-state?
As our well-informed NRIs must be aware, the decision of several dozen MLAs and officials (not to speak of their families) to participate in the meet has created a major controversy back home. A Public Interest Litigation has also been filed in the High Court.
Cornered, the government has clarified that only the expenses of a few are being picked up by the State; the rest are making do on their own.
Question No. 1 that our NRIs might like to ask: From where and how do so many of our MLAs and officials suddenly find the funds for such an expensive trip? Can they assure us that each rupee is honestly earned and audited?
In 2003, some seniors in the Kannada community had asked AKKA’s heads not to invite politicians as chief guests or honoured guests, and not to be seen as currying favour. This was a welcome initiative. Unfortunately those in power did not pay heed nor have they done so this time.
Question No. 2 that our NRIs might like to ask: If as NRIs we are so concerned of corruption, why do so many politicians of doubtful integrity continue to get invited to AKKA meets?
Of course, not all the invited politicians are corrupt but, as the saying goes, one rotten apple can spoil the box. Surely, there must be a few socially-conscious NRIs who are attending AKKA who can hold a silent demonstration to show their disappointment at the organisers for inviting corrupt politicians?
In fact, the NRIs, who otherwise breathe fire and brimstone against corruption, should get together with more of their ilk and demand that a resolution be passed during the AKKA meeting to stop the practice of inviting political leaders, irrespective of their rank and affiliation, if they are known to be corrupt.
Above all, the AKKA conference this time takes place against the backdrop of the BJP coming to power in Karnataka, and there is understandably a fair bit of excitement among NRIs about this. Nonetheless, this development has not been without its blemishes.
Question No. 3 that our NRIs might like to ask: Have any of the visiting leaders used or okayed the use of money to lure elected MLAs to resign from their constituencies and join the BJP? If so, on what basis do they justify such a subversive, anti-people operation?
These NRIs should ask the visiting leaders how they can justify such an immoral act even if the Congress might have done so during the recent no-confidence motion. And they should ask the visiting leaders how they support corruption in private while delivering lectures against it in public.
Admittedly, there isn’t too much time left. But there are enough days to start an internet campaign among AKKA participants to fight corruption in Karnataka, if not raise awareness about it.
Let us not get cynical and state that no strategy, especially something symbolic like not inviting tainted politicians, will stop corruption. Corruption is not in the DNA of Kannadigas. It is a virus spread by greed of those who join politics for the sole purpose of self-aggrandisement.
No step is small in fighting corruption.
Arise and awake, Kannadiga NRIs, and take up the challenge.