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The Resource Curse – Boon for the Reddy Brothers, Bane for Indians

Nature plays a cruel trick between the haves and have-nots. It is an ironical paradox that countries with the least natural resources (Japan, South Korea and Israel) are the most developed while countries heavily endowed with coal, oil, iron ore, platinum etc. (Saudi Arabia, Russia, Venezuela and our beloved India) tend to rank at the bottom of the Human Development or Transparency Index.

Because free wealth is a curse. Just as children born with silver spoons seldom do well in later life (Except Donald Trump & few others!), countries heavily endowed with nature’s riches fail to develop their people. Instead local mafia goons, oligarchs and kleptocrats use their muscle power to corner and usurp the natural resources, oppress the citizens and make a financial killing which is deposited in offshore tax havens, never to return.

The Reddy Brothers:

The Reddy Brothers in Karnataka are a prime example of this phenomenon. The lush green hills of Bellary District in Karnataka had everything – vegetation, abundant water, fertile soil, fruits … and 1 Billion tonnes of Iron Ore. Yet, instead of judiciously using this wealth for the benefit of the people, this ‘Band of Brigands’ grabbed lucrative mining leases for a pittance in royalty (which was never paid), milked the land, bilked the people and sold off 30 million tonnes of iron ore to China. A major part of the money was deposited in foreign tax havens, while a fraction came to India for buying votes, cops, bureaucrats and politicians, left, right and centre.

All this while the local villagers, instead of being outraged at this loot, became submissive and subservient – selling them their votes at Rs. 1,000 per voter and petty handouts from time to time. The Reddy brothers would employ and dole out petty contracts to locals while destroying the environment and gaming the system from top to bottom.

The Four Men in the photograph would have been despised, disgraced and locked-up in jail in any civilised western nation. Yet in our country they roam around freely, saluted by the bureaucracy, cherished by the electorate and chased by the ruling class for money, money and more money. The media marvels at their riches, while conveniently ignoring the fact that it is public money, OUR MONEY, in their pockets. Instead of holding our head high and seizing it under law, we beg them to throw some back at us.

While the Enforcement Directorate is busy chasing Gali Janardhan Reddy for a 600 Crore (Ponzi Scheme), the CBI in March 2018, under BJP tenure, gave all 3 brothers a ‘Clean Chit’ in the 18000 crore Bellary Iron Ore mining scam. BS Yedurappa was acquitted and the rest of the case continues to die a slow death.

As far as the Ponzi scheme is concerned, this is what will happen. Mr. Reddy will file an application for surrender, go behind bars for some time, get bail and then be back in business. Unlike Nirav and Lalit Modi, he will not need to leave India because the entire system, from top to bottom, is in his pocket.

As for the money, baby, just forget about it!

Abha Singh

Abha Singh is a former civil servant and presently an advocate practicing in the Bombay High Court. She is a renowned social activist who has done considerable work in the realm of woman’s rights, gender equality and justice. She has done an M.Phil on Child Rights from the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Abha Singh was the third runner-up and the lead woman finalist in the Times of India Lead India Campaign in 2008. She was further awarded the Chevening Scholarship to attend the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her talk ‘Honour Killings in India and the Legal Complications of Section 498A” at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London received widespread acclaim. Abha Singh was also invited as a speaker at TEDx Oxbridge, conducted jointly by the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge in May, 2017. Sensing the call of duty beyond service, she gave up a successful career in the Government to serve a larger cause by donning the robes of the legal profession. Abha Singh obtained a law degree from Bombay University while working as a Government. Abha Singh took up the case of the two Palghar girls in right earnest when she learnt about their unlawful arrest by the Police for innocent comments on Facebook. Due to her perseverance the guilty cops were suspended and the girls were exonerated honorably. Abha Singh has been successfully pursuing the Salman Khan Hit-and-Run case to ensure that the rule of law is upheld and the youth are educated against the hazards of drunken driving.

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