Now that the CBI has finally presented a charge-sheet including the name of a VVIP among VVIPs, Palaniappan Chidambaram, in one of the many scams that the BJP was harping on during the UPA period, those who are worried that their turn may be next are mounting a surreptitious effort to portray the development as being “harmful to the financial markets”. They are seeking to create a panic in the market through the many individuals who over the years have prospered as a consequence of insider trading. The fact is that the cleaner and more rules-based a financial market is, the better the benefit to the investor. The Narendra Modi government deserves to be commended for breaking a fundamental rule within the Lutyens Zone, which is that VVIPs should remain immune from the consequences of their actions, no matter how harmful these be to the economy. North Block, which means both the Home and Finance Ministries, should keep the radar active to ascertain the rotten apples within the system, those who are seeking to wrongly portray the CBI’s action as being detrimental, rather than beneficial to the health and functioning of the financial markets. There was a time when India could have been a giant in commodity markets, with domestic entities having set up exchanges in various locations that rivalled even Chicago and London. Unfortunately, during the period when Chidambaram was Finance Minister under a powerless (where his ostensibly junior colleague was concerned) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, such dreams of an Indian renaissance got dashed, because their success would have interfered with the profits being made by cabals operating with the blessings and illicit participation of VVIPs clustered within Lutyens Zone. The profusion of luxuries in the lives of Lutyens Zone notables is matched in intensity only by their daily declamations of support for the “poorest of the poor”. Public trust in politicians has been running low for decades, and unless the Narendra Modi government can bring within the ambit of the Rule of Law the most powerful, the most influential, faith in democracy as a system, which ensures even-handed justice and opportunity, will be lost. So far as the financial markets are concerned, from the days of Harshad Mehta and Ketan Parekh onwards, hidden backing from corrupt politicians and officials has resulted in hundreds of thousands of crores of rupees being lost by small investors, either directly or through the losses incurred by public financial institutions riddled with bad debts. If allowed to continue, such practices will ruin India, a country with 630 million people who are young and deserve a better future than what thus far has been on offer to them.
Although the BJP gave a daily dose of verbal attack against the Manmohan Singh government, thus far the UPA’s highest echelons remained unmolested by the new government. When PM Modi spoke of Congress being a “bail gaddi” (referring to some of its leaders being out on bail), he would not have forgotten that the bail granted was not for any case brought against the Congress leadership by Government of India, but by an individual acting on his own, Subramanian Swamy. It is clear that only the PM could have given the command to the investigating agencies to drop their reticence in the investigation of the misdeeds of the very powerful, and include them in prosecutions and in other punitive action. Chidambaram is a very resourceful, very capable individual, and must be working assiduously to ensure the collapse of the case against him, assuming that the courts refuse to allow the agencies to subject him to custodial interrogation. Thus far, the Chidambarams have been getting the full benefit of the world renowned court system in India, with relief getting provided to them both during day as well as sometimes by night. Protecting the citizen from loss of liberty is an act deserving praise, and hopefully it can be expected that similar consideration will be shown by the courts to those who have much more shrunken resources and influence than the Chidambaram clan. Tens of millions of investors have lost their savings because of unscrupulous players expert in rigging prices and fixing markets. Those officials who traded inside information for pecuniary or other benefits need to be punished severely, such that others will hesitate to follow in their steps. Rogue elements will seek to cause panic in the market because of the Chidambaram charge-sheet, but they must be exposed and dealt with an iron hand. The only way forward for a country that will soon be the third biggest economy in the world is that of rectitude and high values. Market manipulators and those who connived in the loot of the Indian banking system should replace small time pickpockets and petty thieves in jail. It is welcome that PM Modi has ensured that nobody will be spared in the war against the corruption that is draining to the ditch the future of India. The charge-sheeting of Chidambaram must not be permitted by corrupt officials eager to save their colleagues to become a full stop, nor even a comma. The path towards clean and transparent markets needs to be taken at high speed, to make up for lost time.