With Rajiv Gandhi as the prime minister of India, we Indians came face to face with the concept of the big time and prime time Ghotaalaas or the scams in India.

It was just Rupees 64crore worth then, a really petty amount [even after including the adjustments for the values of the depreciated Indian Rupee at the current rates]in comparison with the later far brighter sinister and uglier scams like the Lalu’s Chaaraa Ghotaalaa, 2G Spectrum Radia-Raja Ghotaalaa and the CWG Ghotaalaa, Adarsh Society Ghotaalaa, etc.

The general public had initially refused to digest the Bofors-Ghotaalaa for various reasons.

First, the amount was really very big compared to the near zero-tolerance for the public corruption compared to the nearly 99% tolerance for the public corruption, today!

The general public had expected that the Mr clean Rajiv Gandhi shall really provide a clean public administration in India.

The public expectations and aspirations were running high, especially after Rajiv Gandhi made comments like that only 15 paisa out of the 100 paisa from the national exchequer was really reaching the intended beneficiaries and that the rest of the 85 paisa was being siphoned off on the way, obviously by the notorious bureaucrats-politicians-contractors’ nexus.

Rajiv Gandhi was young, well educated, former Air India pilot and had infused fresh air of governance with his well-articulated electrifying talks about the computer education, modernization and economic liberalization, etc.

But, when the Swedish radio first broke the story of the Bofors-Ghotaalaa, almost every correct-thiniking Indian who heard about it was stunned!

No one had really expected that the Mr Clean Rajiv Gandhi would fool the entire Indian nation by looting the exchequer and simultaneously bask in the glory of having been crowned with the title of Mr Clean. Rajiv Gandhi’s wife Sonia’s Italian origins and Quattrocchi’s [the Italian agent of the Swedish Bofors] free access to Rajiv’s home made it all the more complicated.

VP Singh fought and won the Prime Ministership by using the ghost of Bofors. But, even VP Singh failed to locate exactly where this Bofors ghost was, let alone punishing it! VP Singh came as the PM and faded away. Many opposition governments like the BJP came to hold levers of political power, but no one could trace this Bofors ghost successfully.

So, where the worth or significance of the Bofors-Ghotaalaa lay? Well, it acclimatized and immunized most of the Indians to the later bigger Ghotaalaas! Now, most of us are no more moved by the front-page news about the scams. The Bofors-Ghotaalaa taught us like the Grandmother teaching her small grandchildren through Panchatantra-type stories that the ordinary Indian citizen would not be able to fight the demon of corruption in the public life.

The 'EXTORTIONS' of all kinds from the 'NEEDY' by the ' POWERFUL' in all fields, governmental or non-governmental, has become as common in India as the presence of the air! So much so that even today Chankya would have been desperately complaining about it despite all the talks of crusades against the Corruption through the Lok-Ayukta-like institutions and mass media-campaigns!The demon of the Corruption can't be wiped out without everyone or at least most of the Indian citizens themselves, ordinary or extra-ordinary, becoming clean! The real change has to come from WITHIN first for any sustainable vanishing act by the Corruption!

Also, in another sense, the Grand Mother Bofors-Ghotaaalaa gave birth to the extraordinary robust and agile sons and daughters who in turn produced the slew of present Ghotaalaas by having lavish marriages with the unreasonably greedy and unreasonably self-seeking Indian politicians, bureaucrats, contractors and conniving ordinary citizens!

After reading the news headlines screaming “The Bofors ghost returned to haunt Congress with an I-T tribunal saying that kickbacks of Rs 41cr were paid to late Win Chaddha & Quattrocchi…”, most Indians have started asking their own selves - why not accept the public corruption as it is and get along with our daily lives instead of losing the peace of mind, career prospects and even in some cases our precious lives at the hands of those who would like to keep their corrupt-dealings absolutely private and secret?


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