Sunday, December 5, 2010

What is the 'weight' of the Eiffel Tower?

Sorry for this, but this article is not about the Eiffel Tower. It’s about the 2G scam. By the time you finish reading it, you will understand the relevance of the headline though.

The 2G scam. We have all heard of it. But most probably, not paid more than a passing attention to it. After all, there is a scam every day. Just the other day, we heard of the CWG Scam. The sporting extravaganza became an excuse to loot the nation of  hundreds of crores. Then, it was the Adarsh Housing Scam. Politicians, Babus and Military Generals appropriated flats worth Rs.8 crore by paying Rs.80 lacs. All in the name of Kargil widows. Then, it was 2G. Until came along the Housing Loan Scam.

We have come to treat corruption as passé, something we take in our stride and carry on with our business as usual. Every scam survives till the next one hits the headlines. After that, all is forgotten. The attitude of the common population is - why waste time thinking about it when you can spend ‘quality’ time on the Facebook, or watching cricket, or the latest SRK flick? This is what our attitude to corruption is.

So why am I writing about 2G scam now? What’s so great about it? Why am I writing about something which is already all over the media, and is probably stale news? Why think about it when we know that “nothing is going to happen?” (Meaning – ultimately nobody is going to go to Jail)

I am tempted to write since the sheer scale of the scam is extraordinary. It is something we all need to sit up and take notice. We should not forget it. The sheer audacity with which the country was literally auctioned out, causing mammoth losses to the people of India (i.e. you and me) is astonishing. The losses are mind boggling.

As per the CAG report, depending on the method of valuations used, the country has suffered a revenue loss of anywhere between Rs. 58,000 crores and Rs. 1,52,038 crores when the 2G spectrum was sold by the Government to private companies. How much of it went to the politicians’ pockets is anybody’s guess.

We cannot even imagine how big this amount is. For the sake of this article, I am taking a mid-point of these figures – Rs.1,05,019 crores and trying to find out - exactly how big is this amount?

Ø               Adjusting for inflation, the size of the scam is equal to 477 “Bofors”, India’s most celebrated corruption scandal (Without adjusting for inflation, it is equivalent to 2625 Bofors)

Ø               If this amount is distributed to all Indians living below the poverty line, each one of them will get Rs.2,386, which is equal to their 2 month’s income (or 20 days income of an average Indian).

Ø               If this amount is distributed to all the people in Mr. Raja’s constituency, each one of them will get Rs.13.78 lacs!

Ø               This money can buy 52 lac Nanos (No typo here – 52,00,000 Nano cars!).

Ø               The amount is equal to more than 30% of India’s fiscal deficit. This can loosely be translated to mean that our inflation could have come down by a third, had this revenue been earned by the government.

Ø               If the amount is collected in Rs.100 notes and the notes are laid side by side along their length, it can create a ‘chain’ which circles the earth more than 4 times.

Ø               If the amount is collected in Re.1 coins, it will weigh more than 50 lac tons, which is more than the weight of 500 Eiffel Towers, a structure made of heavy metal such as steel and as tall as an 81 storey building.

You can do the calculations yourself. If you take the top end of the CAG figure, all these numbers will go up by another 50% (76 lac Nano cars, and so on).

I strongly suggest you atleast glance at the Executive summary of the scam report, which is available here . The detailed CAG report is also available on the net. Those who are guilty should not go unpunished. As they say, bad governments are elected by good people who do not vote. The country needs anger – a lot of evil exists because good people do not get angry enough. Jai Hind!

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