The title “Not just an accountant: The Diary of Nation’s Conscience Keeper” (Amazon link to buy with discount) is picked up from a judgement of the Supreme Court, where it mentions that CAG is not just a munim (Accountant) and the position of CAG is said to be a Conscience keeper of the nation for its overarching powers to audit the nation’s exchequer of its expenditures and to hold political executive accountable to Parliament through audit along with the Public Accounts Committee.
However, this is not a particularly well-written book, given the inexperience of author in writing I suppose, and it is an apologetic account of the ex-CAG, I say so because he chooses to use a quote of Rajiv Gandhi – “I don’t respond to every barking dog”, but the book exactly does the opposite, Mr. Vinod Rai has answered through this book to every one of his critics who made allegations on him of overreaching CAG’s mandate.
That aside, the book makes some very good revelations, even names the higher ups of the UPA and lets the readers into some insights of how the audit is done in India and offers an interesting perspective about how apathetic our political executive is. There is absolutely no responsibility shown. Esp, the book is critical of UPA, and its coalition politics. The book talks about Coal Scam, CWG Scam, 2G Scam, Reliance’s adamance despite breaching the terms of Production Sharing Contract (PSC) for Gas exploration in KG Basin and the civil Aviation saga.
I was particularly taken aback at the Civil Aviation case (since this case has attracted lesser media sound bites) where the minister chooses to use his discretion to get Boeings entirely on debt and modify and overrule the technical committees’ recommendation. It’s somewhat silent about ManMohan Singh’s role, just says that he could have stopped the scams but didn’t, probably because he himself was silent machine and had nothing much to say to his ministers, evident from the mere acknowledgement replies he gave to the letters of A.Raja, which otherwise should have sent shivers to anyone who is interested in national welfare. Vinod Rai could have made the book much more of an interesting read if it touched upon the Manmohan Singh’s double agent dilemma.
The book is a fast read (it took about a couple of days with 4hr sessions for me) for those who are acquainted with technical terminology of bureaucracy, audit, and polity. It may put off those who are not interested in official communications and the related jargon. But, the book takes cares of explaining the jargon in places necessary.
For those of you who are UPSC aspirants reading it solely for the exam, the first ( for case studies) and the last chapter should suffice from exam point of view esp., for the GS-4 paper.
(P.S:- If you want to give it a pass, you can take my notes of this book for the exam- mail me on firstname.lastname@example.org)
All in all, I would rate it 3.5 and I’d definitely recommend you to read the book if you want to know how much potential we lost in the last decade of our so-called ‘Growth story’.
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