This morning, I saw roaring outbursts from residents in the society Annual General Meeting. The issue was very serious. The management committee (MC) of the society had taken general body approval of Rs 1.75 lakhs to install intercom but they spent 5.6 lakhs without any approval. The reason they said was that inflation happened and cable in many ducts was not present/removed. However, when probed, it came out that the increased cost of cabling was already considered in revised budget when it was increased to 2.5 lakhs. This is not just an ordinary society issue. It is reflective of our behaviour as citizens and country. The society chairman and MC had gone beyond mandated powers and spent obscene 124% extra without feeling the need of taking approval of people whose money was being spent. This is very reflective of the financial misconduct our ministers, politicians too committ.
Now what do you feel about this MC or leadership ?
This is what goes in my mind.
- The committee exceeded the mandate significantly and this is a grave financial misconduct.
- I would forgive 10 -15 % variation but can I ever forgive 124 % overspending ? No goddamn never
- I would want a clear, independent inquiry from a third party not a clear chit from the CA paid and appointed by the society.?
- What made the MC think that it can do anything with public money and get away with it ? Why was there was so much arrogance that they could get away with this serious misconduct and are unaccountable and unanswerable?
Why is this case important ?
A local body society is a true representative of governance structure. How we behave as residents, decides how we behave as citizens and how we behave as citizens decides how we behave as a Nation. The general mood among the residents was that of frustration. The line taken by MC was we did a favour on you. I as a consumer found that the money was very irresponsibly spent and we as consumers got a shitty intercom system which often doesn’t work or serve the purpose of making the society more secure. Is it not CWG SCAM in a small scale ?
Why do I say that as a Nation we are doomed ?
The following is the behavior I observed from the apartment owners..
- Out of 208 apartment owners only approx 32 attended the meeting ( 15 % voting turn out ) . Even in our elections this is the state.
- Poor turn out helps MC manipulate the audiences on basis of poor knowledge, awareness, expression, interest. This is similar to how politicians manipulate race, caste, low intelligence, religion.
- Many apartment owners were happy spending Sunday in front of TV. Symptomatic of an election day holiday.
- The MC discouraged all public debates on crucial issues before coming to the meeting. There was great deal of disagreement on how the agenda should proceed. A planted stooge, then said in interest of time either pass it fast or move to some other topic. This is what happens in parliament.
- The Committee had planted some of its sympathizers to sit in the resident area and tried to neutralize the genuine voices. Demgogues like this are planted by govts and they mould opinion of people by misguiding them ( Amartya Sen was one such, Aruna Roy was another).
- Couple of residents sympathetic to MC got up and strongly advocated that now that the expense is already done, lets approve it and not make it more inconvenient for the committee. This is like a scenario where an elderly rapes a girl and sends somebody to tell the girl that now that rape has already happened, telling it to police will have repercussions. Lets keep silent and talk something else.
- Few residents who had come prepared with well thought out points to counter the argument of committee were not allowed to project on screen what they wanted to. They said, read it out. Reflection of emergency or making it difficult to present PoV ( Intention , she must give up )
- While exceeding the financial mandate without approval is a serious financial misconduct and irresponsible behavior by any body, some people said that we trust the committee , so lets not question them. It may have been done in good faith. How do we know it was good faith, negligence or plain corruption? Only an impartial inquiry can reveal this.
- The disproportionate spending however had not brought in the value for which the money was spent. The society security never uses intercom to let the visitors in after consent and for many society members the intercom line just doesnt work and when they followed up it was said the cable was of very poor quality.
- This is representative of all our govts and citizens all over where we elect people as our leaders. Leaders feel they are all powerful. They do not need people’s approval. They can spend peoples hard earned money, the way they want. Some thing is built ( Road, stadium, bridge, PDS ,spectrum etc) which serves little purpose. Public money is screwed. No body gets punished.
If the neurons are faulty, can the tissues , nerves or brain work properly ? our fundamental units are crumbling.
What can be done to do it better ?
I have been an insider in probably one of the most efficient and least corrupt organization in world i.e IAF. Here is how we as IAF guys handle or would handle this:
- We appoint an independent Court of Inquiry ( CoI is A fact finding body ) which is headed by a specialist. He normally is beyond influence of the person who might have done misconduct. It finds out the fact.
- The Officer and his committee is immediately suspended.
- The CoI has a clear terms of reference. It finds out whether rules were bypassed, whether proper consent were taken, what was the magnitude or dereliction on duty, abuse of authority etc.
- CoI also finds out whether somebody is to be blamed .
- If somebody is to be blamed, what is the recommended quantum of punishment to be served.
- The report of this CoI is consumed by the initiator. This initiator, if he finds offense proceeds with framing of chargesheets against the offender .
- The guilty undergoes General Court Martial which under a fair trial decides the whether the person is really guilty.
- On establishment of guilt, the punishments ranges from reprimand to dismissal of service to rigorous imprisonment to death by hanging.
- Apart from the post offense activity, IAF has is a very scientific method of Independent and concurrent Board of Officers ( BOO – can also be board of residents ) which assesses the projects for their progress while they are being executed. The independent BOO gives a fair and independent assessment on progress of project, possibility of nexus, corruption in project, cost escalation and its real reasons. The top leadership gets a real picture in execution and not a crime to be swept under carpet
While this process which is very fair, rational and based on universal principles of justice , this is rarely practiced by civil, residential society and citizens.
The result is : Every offence is a Fait accompli. The general body meetings takes a sympathetic view of indiscipline of leadership. The stooges drown the voice of dissent. Giving arguments that taking cognizance of crime will have severe repercussions, the society members are told to give approval. Its equivalent to let the rapist get away because his expose’ will bring disrepute to the family. This leads to the collapse of system and prevalence of arrogance, corruption and nuisance among leadership in all walks of life.
A nation is built by people. Its not the headcount but the proportion of people who are aware of the society or nation building process that counts. In absence of this consciousness, the nation is doomed