During this turbulent phase where India is plagued by a series of scams, corruption looks like an indelible scar deeply ingrained in every part of the country. Leaders who look like simple bunch of inept clowns spend massive amounts on elections and amass money for contesting the next elections. If corrupt practices become a way of life, political stability is endangered and society degenerates.
Indian ranked 87th out of 178 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception index in 2010. The below poverty line (BPL) households paid Rs.8830 million as bribe in 2006-2007. The poorest households of India paid Rs. 2148 million to police as bribe in 2006-2007. These are some startling facts about how corruption has penetrated into the interiors of India.
We cannot hope to weed out corruption completely but can minimize it. Though we have government organizations like the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), officials belonging to these organizations themselves are corrupt. On the other hand, we have very less or often, no convictions on the charges of corruption. The situation is dire.
There are umpteen number of ways to tackle corruption at the central, state and the local level. Outmoded laws like the Prevention of Corruption Act of 1988 have to be reviewed at the state and the central level. Amending a law is a tedious process and requires a lot of cooperation among the members of the parliament to accept the changes, after which it would be sent for the president’s consent. Amendments in essential laws are not accepted by most members of the legislatures because they are the primary law breakers. Unenforceable laws cannot be enacted because they become levers of corruption.
Nehru’s remedy for politico-electoral corruption was to clearly demarcate the functions of the executive and judiciary bodies at all levels. He also recommends an autonomous role for the bureaucracy so that civil servants would perform their duties without interference of politicians.
Poor salaries compel lower officials to be corrupt. When senior officials are questioned about lower officials taking bribes, they condone the act because they pity their subordinates’ financial position. Public servants should never be allowed to control commercial activities like licensing or placing defence contracts.
Citizens should be well-informed about their rights so that the officials do not pretend to have the power they do not possess. The right to information act of 2005 enables every citizen to obtain information and question the government. If this is used as an effective tool, there will be some amount of transparency.
The much awaited Lokpal bill should be passed. Lokpal at the central level and Lokayukta at the state level will initiate investigation and prosecution against any officer or politician without needing anyone’s permission. Within a year, investigation and trail have to get over and the corrupt has to be convicted. Punishment should be given depending on the level of corruption.
A separate public grievances cell should be established and public’s grievances should be resolved in a particular period of time, not exceeding six months. Whistle blower protection is a must. It is the job of the police to protect the one who complains against corruption.
And, an audit should be conducted every week in every village to ensure that misappropriation of funds doesn’t happen at any level. Finally, the press as a “watchdog” should discharge its duties honestly in reporting unbiased information to the public.