For decades, India has been seething with a helpless rage, fluctuating occasionally between hope and passion to make a difference, but at large, resigning to the inevitability of growing corruption, watching it get institutionalised, rationalised and most criminals getting away without having to pay a price.
At times, like when V. P. Singh rose the Bofors issue against the Rajiv Gandhi-led Congress government before the 1989 elections, when the entire Opposition came together and promised to cleanse the system, the BJP itself rising in acceptance with a promise of being a party with a difference, and during the Anna Hazare-led movement against corruption, our hopes rose that we would win against corruption. And public resolve and collective will would lead to systemic changes for the better, and reduce if not eliminate the scourge of corruption.
But like a malignant cancer, corruption eventually and always, won. It could not be eliminated, destroyed or even controlled beyond a point; and all promises of change worked just about like a failed treatment plan, giving us nothing save a notice to accept the inevitable.
With a leviathan growth in economy, liberalisation, rise of huge private sector corporation, massive infrastructure and development projects being designed as part of our developmental path, with large scope for public private partnerships running into billions of dollars, and abundant scope for rent-seeking institutionalised corruption blunted, and almost broke the resolve will of the people to end corruption.
None of the institutions too seemed to inspire much hope; each having been seen over the decades and years, to increasingly being co-opted into the larger game as stakeholders, a matrix which could not be broken.
The Narendra Modi-led government gave a lot to hope, and cheer; with seemingly a huge reduction in corruption at the highest levels of politics and bureaucracy; and constant efforts being made to fight them. Even when such fights were against the corrupt who were also conveniently political rivals, it was some gain in the battle against corruption.
The Prime Ministerial speech on August 15 seemed like a fresh resolve and promise; seeking support from people even as Modi would go against organised corruption across the country.
The Supreme Court-ordered demolition of the Supertech twin towers in Noida for violating norms, even as municipal and other officials turned their attention away, with obvious bribes facilitating the acts of omissions, is one of the greatest public spectacles of a win over against corruption. For the first time, we saw the guilty paying a price and an edifice, a structure, easily the symbol of corruption, actually collapsing.
It gives hope that it is not an exception. Yes, could the courts have instead considered ordering the government to confiscate the building and selling it afresh and using the money as a contribution to the exchequer instead of actually destroying a building is another thought, but this sight was necessary, and a relief.
The storming and demolition of Bastille, a prison representing the autocracy of the Louis lineage, led to the French Revolution. Hopefully the demolition of these twin towers, watched by most Indians, including the corrupt, herald a new dawn and a new reinvigorated fight against the corrupt.