Games Leaders Play

Mumbai Samachar Article

It has become fashionable to use buzz words like transparency, accountability and corporate governance. Our leaders make speeches and write articles proclaiming these noble thoughts. It is easier to preach than to practise.

We have in these columns from time to time brought to the attention of those in power the need for transparency, accountability and the right to information. Sadly those in power do not respond, thinking that public memory is short and people tend to forget such issues. One such example is "An open letter to the BPP Trustees" from some members of the Anjuman Committee published in these columns on 9.12.2001. This letter mentions about the BPP's failure to convene an Anjuman Committee Meeting for the past two and a half years. The Anjuman Committee's term is over and yet no effort is made to hold elections to the Anjuman Committee. Other issues such as housing, conflict of interest, etc., have been mentioned in this letter.

Four months have passed but there is no reply from the powers that be. We have in our issue of 3.3.2002 under the heading "WZO Clarifies" listed six queries which the WZO have not responded. For the benefit of our readers and a reminder to the WZO, we repeat these queries along with the dates on which they appeared - 1) WZO's claim to represent 2,50,000 Zoroastrians around the world - 4.11.2001 and 11.11.2001 2) Number of members of WZO and that of WZO (India) - 3) Initiative of WZO leaders to start a cosmopolitan Agiary in London - 15.7.2001 and 20.1.2002 4) The difference between WZO constitution for the world body and that of WZO (India) - 25.3.2001 and 13.5.2001 5) Stoppage of subsidy of Rs.1000/- p.m. to 150 mobeds - 20.1.2002 6) Lakhs of Rupees paid to the editor of a newspaper out of WZO's rural housing project account - 25.3.2001 and 13.5.2001.

Corporate governance requires adequate disclosure. Surely the Parsi community the world over deserves to know the answers. Leaders must set a good example.

Instead of replying to these queries all that we have received is a letter from Mr. Rumi Sethna, Chairman of WZO dated 6.3.2002 which we reproduce below : "Recently, statements have been made concerning the W.Z.O. in the Parsi papers of Mumbai and in letters and e-mails in relation to the controversy of Dokhmenashini. We wish to clarify that this controversy is a local one to Mumbai and that the W.Z.O. has nothing to do with it. The comments against the W.Z.O. are the product of envy resulting from the success of the W.Z.O. in serving the community. We have no desire to respond to specific allegations and will not be doing so henceforth."

This clearly shows the evasive and elusive attitude of the people in power. Our readers will find that in the above six queries there is no mention of Dokhmenashini. It only highlights the unwillingness to answer inconvenient questions. A leader is one who knows the way, shows the way, goes the way. Do our leaders know the way? Do they show the way? Do they go the way? Do they set a good example? Or are they only manipulating people and systems to retain their chair? We leave it to the good sense of our readers to judge.

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