Book Review: Vinod Rai, Not Just an Accountant: The Diary of the Nation’s Conscience Keeper

Published date01 December 2018
DOI10.1177/0019556118788424
Date01 December 2018
Subject MatterBook Reviews
Indian Journal of Public
Administration
64(4) 749–776
© 2018 IIPA
SAGE Publications
sagepub.in/home.nav
DOI:10.1177/0019556118788424
http://journals.sagepub.com/home/ipa
Book Reviews
Vinod Rai, Not Just an Accountant: The Diary of the Nation’s Conscience
Keeper. New Delhi: Rupa Publications India, 2014, XVI, 267 pp., `500.
This book is the memoirs of Vinod Rai, the 11th Comptroller and Auditor General
(CAG) of India (2008–2013). The time period roughly coincides with the
Congress-led United Progressive Alliance coalitional dispensation in its second
consecutive term (2009–2014), the only federal government to be re-elected
since 1989 and also marked by unprecedented levels of endemic political and
administrative corruption.
The book is divided into three major parts: (a) ‘The Journey’: a brief snap-
shot of the protagonist’s career in the government of Kerala and then of India
(rather truncated and less graphic than Nirad C. Chaudhari’s Autobiography of an
Unknown Indian); (b) ‘Follies’: CAG’s narrative of five case studies of epic sordid
corruptions perpetrated on the nation by the UPA regime: 2G telecom spectrum
allocation to private companies; the XIX Commonwealth Games 2010; coal
mine block allocations to private power producers; assignment of gas explora-
tions by private sector, in particular, Reliance Industries Ltd and the government’s
management of Air India and civil aviation affairs; and (c) ‘Course Correction’ in
the quest of excellence, accountability and probity, in a nutshell, good governance.
These parts are followed by appendices, acknowledgements and index. The
appendices include difficult-to-get primary source documents such as the CAG’s
letter to the prime minister (PM) dated 17 September 2010, on the role of internal
and external audit; office memorandum issued by the Ministry of Finance, dated
13 June 2006; CAG’s letter to the PM, dated 22 March 2012, on the challenge
posed by the leaked reports; the media policy issued by the CAG, V.N. Kaul,
dated 16 March 2006, the terms of reference of the group of ministers (GoM);
letters from telecommunications minister to the PM dated 11 January 2006 and
28 February 2006, asking for a change in terms of reference of the GoM for the
vacation of spectrum; the terms of reference of the GoM for spectrum allocation
issued by the cabinet secretary, dated 7 December 2006; letters exchanged
between the telecommunications minister and the PM between November 2007
and January 2008 on spectrum allocations; press release, dated 7 January 2008,
highlighting the interpretation of FCFS as ‘first-cum-first served’; the prime
minister’s office’s (PMO’s) letter to the Ministry of Coal, dated 1 November 2004,
highlighting the change in policy for the allocation of coal blocks for captive
bidding; summary record of a landmark meeting in the PMO on 25 July 2005

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