Legal Pad

Religion, Corruption and Politics

The discovery of huge amounts of gold, silver and precious stones in the bedroom of late Satya Narayana Raju aka Satya Sai baba, proves very well what we have been saying all along – that he is a cheat, fraud and a smuggler. I wonder what those who have been saying every penny is accounted for and all donations are by credit into bank accounts have to say now about it! Whenever we have pointed to the unsavoury things happening in these places of so-called godmen, we were told that all the ‘good’ that was being done was not being appreciated. Now our stand has been vindicated and perhaps if these raids were conducted earlier more such things could have been found. Now maybe these things may be explained by the claim that they were all ‘materialised’ by him and he did all these for the good of the people.

As far as the gold goes, when late B.Premanand took the matter to court the judgment was that he was ‘creating’ gold and that does not come under the purview of the gold control act. Perhaps, he was ‘creating’ currency notes too! The official word for ‘creation’ of currency notes would be ‘counterfeiting’ and an offence under the laws of any sovereign country. So, this explains why he needed an international airport in his backyard – to smuggle in all these things under the nose of pliant customs officials who would be posted in anticipation of him. This explains may other things too, such as how his empire worth billions was built with the money collected by such nefarious means. So, much for all the ‘persons of integrity’ who are the members of his trust, such as eminent jurists, retired bankers and so on. They have all been parties to this looting and much more. It also lends credence to the rumours that there was much more there that has been smuggled out. The wealth found here is the tip of the ice-berg.

This brings us to the question of who is responsible for it. The blame lies at the door of the greatest institution of the Indian democracy – the parliament. This supreme body in a democracy has been instrumental in passing a law making his institutions exempt from all laws of the land! Forget those about smuggling and income tax – even the criminal laws! When there were dead bodies in his bedroom, it was hushed up as an internal matter as if the laws of the land are not applicable to him.

This brings into the picture the unholy nexus between religion, politics and corruption. Well, we have had holy men going into fasts unto death to bring back the money stashed away in Swiss banks by politicians. Now what about the money stashed away in the bedrooms of these so called religious, spiritual leaders? When I made this remark to a Roman Catholic priest, a rebel, he said if the bishop was raided probably more cash would be found! So, it is not a case of one religion being so. All of them are, without exception. If we have these politicians visting these so called religious leaders, having ‘audiences’ with them, it is doubtful whether these discussions are about ‘spiritual’ matters or about matters of illicit wealth. These visits generally do not arouse suspicion because of the ‘holy’ tag attached to the owners of such places. We have innumerable such institutions in Karnataka where grants have been made in the millions for social work – a good way to get it back as unaccounted money for political manipulations and bribing the voters.

In a obscure place like Sringeri in Chikmaglur district there is a helipad. The former Prime Minister of India- the late Mrs. Indira Gandhi, used to be regular visitor to this place to ‘seek the blessings’ of the Shankaracharya. There used to be rumours that these visits were not for blessings but for cash transactions! Now, these links between these so called holy men and politicians are becoming more and more public with one of them being totally exposed, though after his death. In this country, where every aspect of public life in entwined with corruption, our people with their superstitious mind sets have put their faith on such so called holy men under the illusion that they are men of the cloth and hence not corrupt. But, it is the other way round- they are men of the cloth and hence must be corrupt!

To amass wealth is a temptation for every one however holy he or she may claim to be. The popular myth that the so caller religious leaders are unmarried and hence honest is another delusion for people in perennial search for a leader who is honest and so on. We do not understand that the absence of a family and progeny does not automatically guarantee honesty and integrity. These people are just ordinary people like us who are subject to the same temptations that we are all wont to, and when something comes easily, the temptation is to take it. To exempt these people from laws of the land under the pretext that they are doing social service gives them the license to do whatever they want and get away with it. When we have been pointing this out again and again the defenders of such people have pointed out to the ‘social work’ going on in these places brushing aside out arguments that this so called social work is facade behind which such unsavoury, anti-national activities have been going on.

That brings us to the latest reformers on the national scene, again – a Gandhian, with his members of the ‘civil society’ and the bearded man in saffron, who undertook a ‘fast unto death’ to bring back the money stashed away abroad, only to give up in exactly one week! His is another rags to riches, second hand bicycle to private aircraft story. While he went on a fast unto death after hiring the Ram Lila Maidan at Delhi for a yoga camp, the police raid on the venue caused a upheaval leading to a baton charge and injuries to innocents. This action was compared to the jalianwala bag massacre by the political combination desperate to come to power, which supported him by a sit-in at the memorial of the ‘father of the nation’, with the leader of the opposition in the parliament doing a jig to ‘protest’ when she had come to the place to show solidarity with them.  This swami baba, fasting for Gandhian ideals, offering satyagraha for the truth, had no compulsions running away when the police came to arrest him, disappearing for an hour and finally getting caught trying to escape wearing women’s dress, hiding his beard behind a veil! What a climbdown for a man who was supposed to be following Gandhian ideals! To run away when the police came to arrest him and then try to hide in drag!

After being deported from Delhi and sent to hardwar where he continued his fast, his health, glowing with the power of yoga and Ayurveda, packed up in a few days and he was admitted to a hospital. Not a place where yoga and Ayurvedic treatment is done but to one where modern medicine, invented by the decadent West to keep the poor permanently so both in terms of health and wealth, was being practised. If this be not the height of hypocrisy what could it be? So, it is one yardstick for the gullible hordes who pay through their noses to attend his “health camps” and a totally different one for the one who preaches about the health industry being in the clutches of the multinationals!ramdev2

He who had been preaching about the powers of yoga by which one could live for thousands of years without food and water, has some explaining to do as to why he, with all those powers, had to pack up his fast unto death in a week! Of course this is one question his gullible following will never ask! If they do there will be sloppy explanations and excuses for what has happened! The same kinds of explanations are given for the billion rupees or so which he has amassed by selling his useless concoctions and other activities. The huge amounts collected for his so called ‘free’ yoga camps have not been accounted for. The thousands of acres of land he has accumulated is again by a mixture of deceit, lies and coercion. All complaints about such have been brushed under the carpet by a compliant political leadership and servile bureaucrats. Most of the political parties are to be blamed for this.

The UPA combination first humoured and honored him and later came down upon him like a ton of bricks when he turned out to be the renegade that he always was! The plan was to use him as a pawn against the Gandhian on protest with his members of the civil society, but it turned out that after the midnight raid on the so-called peaceful protest, they succeeded in uniting them. Well what would be the remedy for this? The root cause is the exemption of scrutiny given to these so called religious, spiritual setups. When these are being run on business lines they are not subject to the laws that the business had to follow. They fudge accounts, do not pay taxes and are almost never subjected to income tax raids. These are a major source for the origin and storage of so called black money. These should be brought under scrutiny and preferably nationalised as all of them claim to be charitable institutions. No one can claim that these are their personal property. Since these are supposedly for the welfare of the society, there should be no objection to the same being done under the supervision of the authorities.

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Narendra Nayak

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