31 December 2011

Major Scandals of 2011

As eventful as the year 2011 was it also saw a lot of scandals. The scams of the year were both shocking and an eye opener. The major scandals of the year were-

2G Spectrum scam: The 2G spectrum scam which has been dragged since last year saw some progress, Andimuthu Raja, the Telecom Minister, was arrested and Retired bureaucrat, Siddartha Behura Telecom Secretary in 2008 had his license taken away. The scam involved the officials of the Indian Government illegally under pricing the mobile network companies for licenses of frequency allocation. This illegal manipulation of the spectrum allocation was in favor of a few selected companies. According to the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General the loss to the exchequer due to under charging of 2G spectrum was 176,379 crore (US$39.16 billion). The 2G license was issued in 2008 but the scam was brought to public notice when the Supreme Court of India took Subramaniam Swamy's complaints on record. The scam had a lot of politicians and bureaucrats involved. The other involved parties were corporations who were buying the licenses and media professionals who mediated between the politicians and the corporations.

2010 Commonwealth games scam: A major scam hit the Commonwealth Games in 2010 and which continued into this year. There were allegations being made that a substantial sum of money was transferred to a little known U.K. company from the Games Organizing Committee about which the British government raised questions. The Commonwealth Games received severe criticisms by several prominent Indian politicians and social activists because billions of dollars had been spent on the sporting event. The major problems highlighted were that serious corruption of officials of the Games Organizing Committee was seen, there were delays in the construction of main Games venues, possibility of a terrorist attack and infrastructural compromise and exceptionally poor ticket sales before the event were also noted. The Net Worth of the scam was Rs 36,000 crores.

ISRO spectrum scam: Indian Space Research Organization was found in a secret deal to launch two customer-specific satellites and give away 70 MHz of high-value S-band for an unregulated commercial exploitation at a scandalously low price of just over Rs 1000 crore to a private, Bangalore based company called Devas Multimedia Private Limited. The scam would cost the exchequer a gigantic loss of two lakh crore. ISRO managed to hide the deal for six long years until the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) called for the files following which, the media then scooped it out into public space, forcing ISRO and the Prime Minister's Office scuttle for an explanation.

Goa mining scam: Another shocking scandal that the country saw was the Goa mining scam. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) raised the issue of illegal mining against the ruling Congress-led government. Over the last five years the loss caused to the exchequer was of 25,000 crore. It was seen that Goa accounts for over 60 per cent of the country's iron ore exports, earning 20, 000 crore annually by way of foreign exchange. The reports by Hinduatan Times shows that 54 million tonne of iron ore were exported this year, out of which 30 million tonne was legal, and the rest — more than 20 million tonne — illegal.

Indian black money in Swiss Banks: Another big blow in the face of the country was the Indian black money scam. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told a TV channel "Yes, there are Indian names in the data that we have already published or are going to publish. I can't remember specifically whether there are Indian names in the coming publication. But I have read Indian names." The black money was mostly a source from illegal share in stock market, drug deal, and fake project. It was noted that most amount of the black money in the Swiss Bank was mainly from India. Reports also suggested that major share of Indian black money was routed from Pakistan.

Bellary mines scandal: Illegal iron ore mining was found to be taking place in the Bellary region of Karnataka. The illegal mining started after paying an infinitesimal royalty to the government. The major regularities involved were G. Karunakara Reddy and G. Janardhana Reddy who are ministers in the Government of Karnataka and also the owners of Obulapuram Mining Company (OMC). The CBI raided their residence and seized over 3 crore in cash and 30 kg of gold from Janardhana Reddy’s house and over Rs 1.5 crore in cash from Srinivas Reddy’s residence.

BL Kashyap - EPFO scam: This year also witnessed another scam with one of India's fastest-growing construction firms being charged with carrying out the country's biggest provident fund (PF) evasion. According to the EPFO order BL Kashyap and Sons excluded nearly 71,000 workers from PF benefits. The order also found huge variations in the wage payments booked by the firm in its audited balance sheets and the records submitted to the PF office, leading to suspicion that it employed more workers than it claimed. BL Kashyap and Sons Ltd whose clients include Taj Hotels, IBM ,Microsoft and Delhi's international airport were seen allegedly causing a loss of Rs 169 crore to the exchequer between 2005 and 2009 and were asked to fork out Rs 593 crore in PF dues and penalties.

Investment Scam: This year’s scandals also include the Kochi-based real estate Company ‘Apple A Day Properties’ who duped around Rs 1,000 Crore. They lured property buyers by promising flats at a low rate in Kerala’s capital Kochi and nearby areas and collected advances from various persons, including NRIs, running into crores of rupees. They even offered a car for those who first booked flats and paid advance. This scam could have left lakhs of victims in the state and abroad poorer by up to Rs 1,000 crore.

Education Scam: The most shocking scam of the year could definitely be given to the Education scam. The scam cost the state of Maharashtra as much as 1000 crore rupees. The state government started investigation to find out how many students on the rolls of state run and government aided schools were bogus.  1.4 lakh students were found to be bogus in a single district which also suggested that the state handed over extra unaccounted money for an amount of Rs 120 crore to these schools.