Shams and scams seem to have become a staple diet of Indian political and commercial scenario, and the media seems to be having a gala time with it.
Summing them all into a single article is practically impossible, considering there might already be a few dozen scams currently in the making as this one gets published. Albeit there are few those have truly shamed us beyond belief. So here’s a brief of those the chosen few that blackens our face like the moonless night.
1. 2G Scam – Rs. 1,76,000 Crore
The 2G spectrum scam came out of nowhere in 2010 and struck us like lightening. International and local telecom companies investing in India found an easy way out when they scammed their way into underpaying for their 2G licenses needed for cellphone subscriptions. The scam, estimated by CBI, is said to be worth Rs 30,984 crore but according to certain CAG reports, the scam may very well be worth Rs 1,76,000 crore or more. CBI rounded up A. Raja and M.K. Kanimozhi as the main accused behind the scam.
2. Jeep Scandal Case – Rs. 80 Lakh
India’s freedom seem to have left our quest at scamming each other completely undeterred. An epitome of this seems to be Krishna Menon, then the Indian high commissioner to Britain who in 1948, bypassed protocol to sign a deal worth Rs 80 lakh with a foreign firm for the purchase of army jeeps. Cash was paid upfront by the Britishers who only delivered 155 jeeps to the army. For someone of such high stature who should’ve been stripped off his post and barred from jeopardizing the country’s wealth and security, Jawaharlal Nehru made Krishna Menon his trusted ally and Defence Minister!
3. Hawala Scandal – $18 Million
The Hawala system is a notoriously infamous way of informally transferring overseas money through an intricate and secretive chain. Used frequently by smugglers and black market mafia, the Hawala chain came into spotlight in 1991 when the Jain brothers were arrested for brokering illegal transactions worth $18 million from foreign countries meant to bribe the country’s leading politicians. Many top officials like L. K. Advani, V. C. Shukla, P. Shiv Shankar, Sharad Yadav, Balram Jakhar and Madan Lal Khurana were accused with regards to the scam but inadequate evidence ended the case abruptly.
4. Commonwealth Games – Rs. 70,000 Crore
The most recent addition to India’s exhibit of shame on a global pedestal was the Commonwealth Games. Touted to be a visual and metaphorical spectacle, the Commonwealth Games ended up being marred with allegations and scams even before it began. Suresh Kalmadi, the Chairman of the Organizing Committee, turned out to be the main accused in the case for organizing the Games with poor quality and low standards. He was later arrested for awarding illegal contracts to foreign firms. Following the arrest he was stripped of his post of president of the Indian Olympic Association and suspended from his membership of the Indian National Congress Party.
5. Mundhra Scandal – Rs. 1.24 Crore
Free India sure had an adverse effect on the masses, and even more so on the radical industrialists who were keen on fulfilling their vision for a better tomorrow and Haridas Mundhra happened to be at the forefront. Unfortunately his vision was self indulgent and in 1958, he duped the country by convincing Life Insurance Corporation of India to invest Rs 1.24 crore into six of his troubled companies. The Indian government later realized that Mundhra had sold fictitious shares to LIC and he was finally sentenced to 22 years of imprisonment for fraud.
6. Cash-For-Votes Scandal – Rs. 75 Crore
Parliament is a circus that never fails to entertain us, and it reached its peak in 2008 when a few BJP members brandished bundles of cash and accused the Congress government of bribing them to buy their votes. Things did not go down too well and investigations revealed that rampant bribing was prevalent before the confidence votes leading to arrests of several people accused of spearheading the bribery. Rajya Sabha members Amar Singh and Ahmad Patel along with two BJP MPs Faggan Singh Kulaste and Mahavir Bhagora with Sudheendra Kulkarni were arrested for being the leading men behind the crime. Maybe money can’t buy happiness, but it can definitely buy you someone’s political opinion!
7. Coalgate – Rs 1,85,591 Crore
The coal allocation scam, more famously known as Coalgate, took place before the 2004-2009 coal block allocations when the Government failed to invite the potential bidders to bid for block allocations, leading to blocks being allocated to selective private and public sector firms. The lack of a healthy bidding caused the Government to lose an astonishing amount of money which tallied to more than Rs. 10,67,303 crore. As of today, the case is still being dragged in the Supreme Court with the names of all the Indian bidding firms being questioned over the bidding procedure.
8. Telgi Scam – Rupees 600 Billion
Most of the scamsters out there are all about forging documents and laundering money. Small-timers stick to fooling the normal layman, but the biggies are hell-bent on scamming the Government itself. Abdul Karim Telgi seemed to do just that, and how! Having polished his skill of printing duplicate stamp papers, Telgi went on to manufacture and distribute them all across the country and was capable of spreading into 12 states while making a total damage of more than Rupees 600 billion. He was finally jailed in 2007 for 13 years and fined Rs 1000 crore for the crime.
9. Satyam Scam – Rs 9000 Crore
Satyam, one of the biggest tech firms in India who were touted to be the torchbearers for India in the western tech industry shammed the country by forging account details and inflating revenues to show astonishing profits generated by the company. The chairman of Satyam, Ramalinga Raju confessed to forging falsified account transactions and data manipulation causing a total loss of whopping Rs 9000 crore. This confession led to a slew of global companies terminating their association with Satyam making it lose its credibility in the international market.
10. Bofors Scam – Rs 640 Million
It seems India loves to dabble in bit of monetary blasphemy when it comes to the country’s arms and ammunition and Bofors scam seemed to be at the top of them all. Bofors erupted into the mass media when it was revealed that Rajiv Gandhi and several others had accepted bribes from Bofors, a Swedish arms manufacturing company, for setting up the bidding to supply cannons for the army. The total damage of the fixing was said to be Rs 640 million that was handed over as bribe to top Indian political officials and defence officials.