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Coalgate, Railgate and Bill Gate?!

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  • 1. After the establishment of the Republic of India there isa widely shared desire in the country to evaluate thegains made as also to assess our future. Undoubtedly, the people of the countryand the managers of society can becongratulated on many counts for Indiasachievements since independence whichinclude (i) self-sufficiency (in fact surplusgeneration) in food-grains, (ii) a strongindustrial base, (iii) a rising expectancy oflife, (iv) a higher percentage of literacy, (v)a united and better integrated India and (vi)a growing recognition by the world of our capabilities and potential.2

2. On the negative side, one could countthe nagging problems of unemployment,illiteracy and poverty accentuated by anever increasing population.Also, a low per capita income,inadequate infrastructure, feudalistictendencies and worst of all a patheticcontempt of rule of law and ethics inpublic life.Finally, an administration which isperceived as self seeking and citizenunfriendly.3 3. "WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved toconstituteIndia into a SOVEREIGNDEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC, and to secure to all itscitizens :JUSTICE, social, economic and political;LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promoteamong them all;FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and theunity of theNation:IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day ofNovember, 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TOOURSELVESTHIS CONSTITUTION."4 4. Akbar "the Great," who governedIndia for half a century (1556-1605)and by a wise, gentle and justreign brought about a season ofprosperity. This man, whosememory even to-day is revered bythe Hindus, was named Abul FathJelleddin Muhammed. And trulyhe justified the epithet, for great,fabulously great, was Akbar asman, general, statesman and ruler.5 5. Akbar succeeded in establishing order, peace,and prosperity in his regained and newlysubjugated provinces. This he brought aboutby the introduction of a model administration,an excellent police, a regulated post service,and especially a just division of taxes. Up to Akbars time corruption had been amatter of course in the entire official serviceand enormous sums in the treasury were lost bypeculation on the part of tax collectors.6 6. AKBAR, EMPEROR OF INDIA: The corruption in thefinance and customs department was abolished bymeans of a complicated and punctilious system ofsupervision (the bureaus of receipts and expenditureswere kept entirely separated from each other in thetreasury department).Akbar himself carefully examined the accountshanded in each month from every district, just as hegave his personal attention with tireless industry andpainstaking care to every detail in the widely ramifieddomain of the administration of government.Moreover the Emperor had at the head of thefinance department a prudent, energetic, perfectlyhonorable and incorruptible man, Todar Mal, whowithout possessing the title of vizier or minister of statehad assumed all the functions of such an office. 7. For us in India, corruption has been an age-oldphenomenon. Chanakya is supposed to have said inthe Arthashastra that there are 40 different methodsby which public officials can indulge in corruption."The Mahamatras are like fish. Does one know,when the fish is drinking water?" he is supposed tohave said. Indira Gandhi, when asked a questionabout corruption, passed it off with a comment that itwas a global phenomenon. 8. Corruption is a matter of concern as it has negativeconsequences. Corruption is anti-national. The hawala scamof the 1990s exposed how the Kashmiri terrorists weregetting funds through the hawala route, and it is the sameroute by which the corrupt bureaucrats, politicians andbusinessmen also were getting and laundering their funds.The 1999 UNDP report on Human Development pointed outthat if Indias corruption level can be brought down to that ofthe Scandinavian countries, Indias GDP will grow by 1.5 percent and FDI increase by 12.5 per cent. Corruption is,therefore, anti-economic development. 9. Corruption is anti-poor. In a country, where 26 per centof the population is below the poverty line, corruptionhits the poor very badly. Many of the developmentschemes meant for the weaker sections do not benefitthem at all. Rajiv Gandhi remarked that only 15 paiseout of every rupee meant for the anti-povertyprogramme reaches the beneficiaries. Get the benefitsof corruption-free, good governance in our own lifetime.Singapore is a classic example. India needs to do moreon corruption 10. Corruption and India: While no society is free fromcorruption, what is worrying is that such behaviourappears normalised in India. The licence raj of the pastdid not help. Capitalism, globalisation and liberalisationhave also increased the pressure to succeed, achievetargets and acquire wealth quickly. The abuse of publicpower, office and resources for personal gain iscommon. Political parties take action against individualswho got exposed but a proactive preventive measure isabsolutely needed. 11. Voter considers that all parties are equally corrupt.Some are more so than others or some have beenfound out while others have not been exposed.Damage is caused by corruption or lack of probity inpublic life to the well-being of the people. The middleclass value of probity in public life will have to besustained. It has been said that India is a feudaldemocracy. It is quite possible therefore that we take atolerant view of the misbehaviour of leaders becausethe king can do no wrong. 12. Support the broad coalition of civil society groups and organisationsoperating at the various levels to better realise their anti-corruptionobjectives. There is immense diversity, complexity and rivalryamong these groups and organisations, but if their activities are tohave a wider impact there needs to be some kind of co-ordinatingeffort to better share best practice. More opportunities need to beprovided for networking, co-ordinating effort, and developingpolicies.To tackle corruption effectively there is need for a strongconsolidated state characterised by rule governed behaviour.Excessive emphasise on de-regulation and transparency mayundermine the precisely those outcomes which are being sought. 13. The CPI is based on corruption in the government /public sector; is calculated on corruption-relateddata from 13 source-surveys published betweenJanuary 2009 and September 2010.The criteria used to arrive at the score includeperception-related questions like the governmentscapacity to punish and contain corruption;transparency, accountability and corruption in thepublic sector; extent of corruption; implementationof anti-corruption initiatives. India is 87th inTransparency Internationals latest C P I, in which178 countries were surveyed. 14. The method is based on three practicalsteps, namely Morality, Concentration _concentrated mind as fitfor work. Insight _ understanding of the true natureof all things. 15. THE CENTRAL Vigilance Commission has brought out "Thecitizens guide to fighting corruption." A large number ofarticles have appeared in almost all newspapers giving theanatomy and biochemistry of corruption. However possiblyfor the first time an attempt has been made to take the issueto the right clientele, capable of bringing in a change. Theguide in the words of the Central Vigilance Commissioner,Mr. N. Vittal, "contains the distilled essence of the strategiesevolved so far to fight corruption and the principles that canbe adopted... presented as a humble offering to everypatriotic citizen of India who wants to fight corruption." 16. The Indian Penal Code has provisions for forcing publicservants to do their duty under sections 166 and 167.Heads of organisations can be persuaded to makecomprehensive use of these punitive measures.Ethics should form part of the education system andchildren in the schools should be mobilised to create asocial climate of making corruption unacceptable andcasting a social stigma on those who are corrupt. The useof media for mobilising the people against corruption canalso be part of this effort. 17. Praja, an NGO of Mumbai, has devised a unique system forcitizens to ensure redress of citizens grievances through anonline complaint registration system. The complaint is sent tothe authority concerned and to Praja. Both Praja holdmeetings regarding the backlog. All applications and formsrequired for work with the municipal authorities are alsobeing made available online. To facilitate the operation of thissystem a memorandum of understanding has been signedbetween the Greater Mumbai Municipal Corporation and thePraja Foundation. The NGOs in other cities could explore thepossibility of adopting this system.