Wednesday, July 6, 2011

[ZESTCaste] Anna, will Lokpal probe divine money?

Anna, will Lokpal probe divine money?

July 6, 2011
By Kancha Ilaiah

Baba Ramdev is not willing to end his war against black money.

He has now asked the government to unearth all black money — cash
stashed away within the country as well as all the money parked in
secret accounts in banks abroad.

Following Baba Ramdev's exhortations, his disciples participated in
hungerstrikes and agitations against black money. Likewise, Anna
Hazare (who, incidentally, is a devotee of a Yadav baba whose temple
is located in his own model village, Ralegaon Siddi) and his team are
also opposed to black money and corruption and the Gandhian has
threatened to go on hungerstrike again.

Team Anna wants the Lokpal Bill dictated by them accepted as is and be
made the law of the land. None of them, however, has so far said a
word on the recent revelations of huge amounts of money and jewellery
hidden in the vaults of temples and bedrooms of babas.

The treasure discovered at the Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple is worth
Rs 1 lakh crore. And on June 17, Rs 11.5 crore in cash, 98 kg of gold
and 307 kg of silver were found by Trust members when they opened
Satya Sai Baba's chambers at the Puttaparthi ashram after his death.

It may be recalled that Baba Ramdev rushed to Puttaparthi to see the
body of Satya Sai after he passed away. When Satya Sai was in the
hospital, several "sacred" men and ministers from the Centre and
states bemoaned that if he dies, ethics in India will also die.

One woman minister of Andhra Pradesh, in fact, camped beside his
hospital bed for months. Several civil servants, judges and academics
rushed to Puttaparthi. Now we have some idea why all this happened. It
will be interesting to see what Baba Ramdev and Team Anna have to say
about the officially declared wealth of the ashram, apart from the
bundles shipped out of Satya Sai's Yajur Mandir. Is this wealth black
or white?

Will Baba Ramdev make a statement about the currency that was lying in
Satya Sai's bedroom, which was locked up when he was shifted to
hospital? How do they define black money? Was the cash, gold and
silver found in Yajur Mandir all white? If Mr Hazare, Baba Ramdev and
their team members treat such money as black money, why are they
silent on the course of action against it? Will the Lokpal Bill, which
they are fighting for, also cover spiritual shrines of babas, temples,
masjids, churches and gurdwaras? Does Mr Hazare's draft have a clause
that covers the kind of black money that was unearthed in Yajur

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leaders A. Raja and K. Kanimozhi and
Congress leader Suresh Kalmadi are in jail because they were said to
be corrupt. If Satya Sai was alive, and if all the cash, gold and
silver were dug up during that time, would he have had to be
accountable? What would Kiran Bedi, who claims to be an honest and
efficient police officer, have done in this case? Would she have
arrested Satya Sai if he was in her jurisdiction?

By his own admission, Baba Ramdev has acquired assets worth Rs 1,100
crore in a span of just 10 years. We do not know the worth of Sri Sri
Ravi Shankar or Mata Anandamayi, whose spiritual kingdoms are thriving
and expanding like wildfire. Shouldn't Mr Hazare's Lokpal Bill have a
provision for investigating these financial empires?

I am sure no Prime Minister's or Chief Justice of India's bedroom
(from Jawaharlal Nehru to Dr Manmohan Singh) could possess as much
wealth as Satya Sai's bedroom held.

At least the Prime Minister is accountable to Parliament and the
people, and the Chief Justice has to sit on benches and there is an
open office system with a registrar around him.

Who are the babas accountable to? In the name of god, spiritual
exercises and cultural campaigns, far too much immorality, corruption
and accumulation of black money has been taking place in the country.
We know how godmen, politicians, bureaucrats, judges and academics
make even gods corrupt in India. Early and exclusive darshan of the
deity at big temples is available for a price. Part of this money goes
into temple hoondis, the rest into the bedrooms of babas.

What does our highly moral civil society have to say about the corrupt
culture of spiritual institutions, the latest evidence being the Yajur
Mandir? We have seen what happened in Osho's ashram. American civil
society could not tolerate that ashram even for a few months.

Sexual immorality and accumulation of black money has been part of
so-called spiritual/religious institutions. If we are against moral
and financial corruption, we must focus on the haloed halls too.

The author is director for the study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive
Policy, Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad


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