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NFDC EXPOSE: The curtain rises on the story of venality, nepotism, and loot of public money

In the past few weeks, we have sufficiently whetted the appetite of our readers about the NFDC (National Film Development Corporation) expose. Our announcements have also made the officials at NFDC very uncomfortable and they have resorted to the usual tricks of the trade to browbeat and intimidate us into silence. They have sent us notices through their law firms threatening legal action if we did not withdraw the ‘article’. This was when the expose, the 'article,' was not even published.

What is it that these NFDC officials fear?

If everything was fine with NFDC, why did they get so antsy about the expose that they sent us a legal notice? These law firms have to be paid exorbitant fees to draft a ‘four-page’ notice. The people of India of course pay their bill. And for what is this money paid - to defend the NFDC officials against the people of India? The ‘caution notice’ by the law firm mentions the reputation of their client, i.e., NFDC. How does an expose about the venal and clandestine goings-on within the walls of NFDC and the misdeeds of its officials harm NFDC’s reputation? In fact, it will greatly enhance it if the expose helps it clean the muck inside.

The legal notice was not about the reputation of NFDC

It was more about saving the backs of NFDC officials and the leeches and freeloaders who have lived off it, a public-funded entity, all these years, serving none but themselves. They have turned it into a den of cronyism and corruption that nurtures and serves a small coterie of people. They hardly serve the cause of cinema as they so arrogantly claim to do.  

NFDC expose is also about a larger malaise that stunts the growth of our nation

It’s called INDIAN BUREAUCRACY that hangs in the neck of our nation like a stone mill, constantly pulling us down, and not letting us grow to our potential.  They consist of secretaries, joint-secretaries, IAS, IFS, and IRS officers on deputation and the whole ministerial apparatus that is inherently and largely corrupt and self-serving. These bureaucrats perpetuate a ‘darbar’ culture and ensure that their power structure stays intact in spite of people’s mandate. The honest and hard-working among them fall by the wayside. In this club of power and pleasure-seeking individuals, everyone is into scratching the backs of each other. Interestingly, they also know how to placate the other pillars of democracy including the media by throwing crumbs at them.

Termites of corruption and cronyism

The termites of corruption (and cronyism) the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi referred to in his Independence Day speech and vowed to destroy, build their nests and flourish in the cool and safe environment created by the wily and devious section of Indian bureaucracy. What this nation needs is serious reforms to put an end to ‘naukarshahi’ that believes that Prime Ministers may come and go, but they, the bureaucrats will stay. This gives the venal and vain among them an absolute sense of power and ipso facto nurtures their self-serving tendencies and parasitical mindset. The Government of India must work towards dismantling and destroying the web of this insidious abomination that has been eating into the vitals of our nation. Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have a grand vision to transform this nation and a few good officials may even share his vision, but the over-all bureaucratic infrastructure is not even bothered about it.

Modus operandi of white-collared treacherous enemies of the nation

The most interesting and key feature of this modus operandi is to create a closely-knit cozy club of self-servers, the mutual back scratchers, by doing favors to each other that are paid for by the public exchequer.  You can call it the establishment or elite but it’s more like a cabal. The bureaucrats in the I&B ministry, the NFDC establishment, sundry beneficiaries of the NFDC largesse from the Indian film industry, and men and women in the media are part of this cabal. It also co-opts people who it thinks can be useful or who may turn out to be serious threats to its survival.

Look at the 40-year-old history of NFDC, you can clearly notice the pattern

You can also discover the network of cronies and how it perpetuates and sustains itself. They are all familiar faces and they work in their familiar predictable ways. And though NFDC professes to ‘fostering excellence in cinema and promoting the diversity of its culture by supporting and encouraging films made in various Indian languages’, that’s in fact secondary to the objectives of the cabal. Their first and foremost goal is to continue ruling the roost of a government-funded institution, turn it into their fiefdom, and live off it.

Curious case of an amorous NFDC chairman and his ex-wife

This is an interesting and ‘loving’ example reported in the media based on reliable sources. There is a well-known ‘character’ actor, the darling of art house cinema aficionados, who was made the NFDC chairman once. He basked in its glory, and issued a few statements hinting at the transformation of the moribund organization. Instead of transforming the organization, he got transformed himself. It seemed the smart head honcho of the organization took no time in discovering his ‘weakness’. It was his ex-wife. The thespian was still affectionate towards her and it came to light later that he was two-timing his then wife.  The ex-wife nursed the grand ambition to make a feature film. She submitted her script to NFDC. As per our sources, the script committee rejected the script ‘thrice’. The NFDC official reportedly found a way to help the ‘love-sick’ Chairman. She handpicked three independent evaluators who passed the script. Next, NFDC ‘fully’ funded the classic made by the Chairman’s ex-wife while the scripts cleared by the official committee were put on the back burner. According to the sources, the illegitimate ‘child’ (the film) of the Chairman’s amorous escapades cost NFDC and the people of India more than two crores, and is still lying in cans, unreleased. You don’t even find its mention in the NFDC catalogue on its web site. This was apparently and prima facie done to placate the Chairman. Much obligated by the top official, he, according to sources, simply put his seal of approval on whatever she did thenceforth with eyes shut. He did not even have time to meet the NFDC staff and listen to their woes. And this is not just one case of blatant venality, nepotism, favoritism, and cronyism; there are many more. Our expose will open the storeroom of ‘skeletons’ and ‘cans’ of worms that have cost crores to the public exchequer.

Are organizations like NFDC, FTII, Films Division, CFSI etc. relevant today and whose purpose do they serve?

The expose tries to answer this question as well. These are the vestiges of the socialist era that have lost relevance and have turned into white elephants. Let us give you an example of how these organizations try to prove their relevance. It’s argued that they are institutions of national importance, which is pure bunkum. They are neither nationally important nor functionally or academically or artistically relevant today. There is no justification for their continued existence as there was no justification for the continued existence of the Planning Commission of India. These are hotbeds of ‘micro-corruption’ and ‘cronyism’ and monuments of criminally wasteful public expenditure. The nation cannot afford to carry these albatrosses around its neck.

NFDC expose is about micro-level bureaucratic corruption that runs into thousands of crores

It’s a widespread cancer difficult to detect but has a devastating impact on our governance. It burdens our people with unproductive expenditure and perpetuates a debilitating and degenerate ‘sarkari maal udaane ke liye hai’ culture that has been eating into the innards of our economy leading to horrendous waste of the nation’s precious resources. The overall burden of micro-corruption and wasteful government expenditure in the I&B Ministry and various other ministries and govt. departments and PSUs can be mind-boggling and may run into thousands of crores. A bold and decisive move in this direction can cut down the government’s revenue deficit quite significantly. 

It’s time to bust these ‘fiefdoms’ and ‘cabals’ of self-serving freeloaders instead of resuscitating them to life using clandestine and corrupt moves and methods. And the motives of those who are indulging in it must be questioned and they must be made accountable for their acts of omission and commission.

This is just the curtain-raiser friends, a teeny-weeny glimpse of what is going to follow. Doston, abhi to parda utha hai, poster laga ha, picture to shuru honi baaki hai. Isme sab kuch hai, love bhi, sex bhi, aur janata ke saath ho raha dhokha bhi.