Business Today

2010: Scams, Scandals and Shame

If there were two words to describe 2010, they would be graft and grime. You had Lalit Modi, land scams, Suresh Kalmadi and Niira Radia prove that honesty in public life was a distant dream.

Print Edition: Jan 9, 2011

If there were two words to describe 2010, they would be graft and grime. Accused of graft, Indian Premier League (IPL) boss Lalit Modi was sacked by Indian cricket's governing body. Among other things, Modi was accused of pinching designer watches. IPLgate also put the brakes on the career of diplomat-turned-politician Shashi Tharoor as his role as "mentor" of the Kochi team came to light. Tharoor's case was not helped by revelations that his then girlfriend (and now wife) Sunanda Pushkar was awarded a small stake (worth Rs70 crore) in the team as sweat equity.

The BJP-led Karnataka government was accused of land scams, mining scams and by and large running a corrupt government.

The Commonwealth Games got a wealth of bad international press as a footbridge collapsed and the shoddy states of event venues came to light just before the start. Corruption charges against government officials and the organising committee members continue to be investigated. And then, there was the Rs1.76-lakh crore 2G scam. As taped conversations of lobbyist Niira Radia with corporate bigwigs, politicians and journalists were leaked, honesty in public life in India seemed like a distant dream.

Microfinance nightmare
The microfinance industry's honeymoon ended the year it was supposed to have begun. A couple of months after Hyderabad-headquartered SKS Microfinance listed on the bourses, microfinance institutions (MFIs) were accused of charging exorbitant interest rates and strong-arm collection tactics. The government cracked down with an ordinance. One minister in the state even asked people to beat MFI collection agents "with brooms and slippers."

An ID for All Indians
In the works since 2006, the unique identification "Aadhaar" scheme took off in September 2010, when the Prime Minister handed out the first set of 12-digit numbers at Tembhli village in Maharashtra's Nandurbar district. Led by former Infosys chief Nandan Nilekani, the Unique Identification Authority of India is planning to issue 600 million UIDs over the next five years.

Did you know
About 54 per cent Indians paid bribes in the past year, according to a recent global survey by Transparency International.

Quote of the year
The Indian consumer is very demanding, which is a good thing. They want a significant amount of quality, but they also want the lowest price possible.
Andreas Gellner, Managing Director, Adidas India

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