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Fight against corruption takes a small step forward

February 15, 2007

Corruption has been defined by the World Bank as use of public office for private profit. Corruption is anti-poor. Unless we get rid of it we cannot rid our country of poverty and we cannot hope for good public services and we cannot hope to reach the top ten in the global economy. Catching corruption is not enough, we need to expose it.

Well, the government appointed Reforms Commission headed by Congress leader Veerappa Moily has been busy trying to spearhead reforms in the Government and this includes Ethics in governance. A quote from a TOI (Mumbai) article published on 13th February (could not find it online):-

It has been suggested that Articles 310 and 311 be done away with – the two articles not only guarantee constitutional protection to civil servants but also make it mandatory to seek prior sanction before prosecuting them. In what can annoy the judiciary, it has suggested setting up of a national judicial council (NJC) under which the appointment and removal of judges would be made by a collegium with representatives from the executive, legislature and judiciary.

The Panel also wants strict action to be taken againt corruption. Well, I hope these recommendations see the light of day. We know how easily recommendations that don’t suit the government are set aside, like the recommendations of the National Knowledge Commission on the Reservation Policy. A report from DNA explains the Commission’s recommendations. A quote from a Hindustan Times report:

This is the Commission’s fourth report to the government; there has been no official word on the fate of the previous three. The reports, commissioned by the department of administrative reforms, have been sent to the ministries concerned for their comments. Monday’s report will have to go through this process too.

Well, one has to just pray that something is done this time. Corruption exists everywhere but its how each nation tackles it that keeps it in check. Take China. That country is taking corruption far more seriously than us. Its sacking almost a 100,000 officials of the Communist party for corruption. But in India sacking even one person creates a furore!
The World Bank’s way of exposing corruption
I particularly liked the way the World Bank is doing it. The Economist in its 10-16th February issue:

On the website of its Department of Institutional Integrity, soiled garments are on full display. A photograph shows a rural road, financed by the bank, that is 30% narrower than it should be; another pictures a hut packed with children because classrooms the bank paid for are being used by a local official to store onions. This week, the department issued its first “integrity report” since 2005; it reveals a basketful of bribery, fiddles and frauds.

Admirable transparency. True, only 71 cases of the 236 allegations of corruption in the bank’s projects in the last two years were proved but as a result as many as 58 firms and 54 people were barred from getting bank money. Cool, because the blacklist included big names like Thales Consulting and Engineering of France. The Bank also investigated 92 allegations of fraud against its own staff, and managed to nail 33. The charges varied from evading taxes and fudging expenses. Well, this ‘zero-tolerence’ policy of the bank is what we need in India. It is also important that the public finds out exactly what the official has done. Shaming the guilty is the one of the ways of keeping corruption in check.

As of today we have to depend on the media to expose corruption. Newspapers like Tehelka have been fighting a lone battle for several years. However, there have been instances where the electronic media has also unearthed scams and helped catch the guilty. A recent well publicised case was that of young Jessica Lall who was murdered by a politician’s son. He had been acquitted inspite of many eye-witnesses because the witnesses were allegedly bribed…but television coverage of the injustice brought public pressure on government agencies like the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) as well as the courts to re-look at the evidence and nail the lies of the witnesses.

Related Reading: Ministers steal money meant for slum development
Slum Rehab project in trouble
Mumbai wants to rid itself of slums by 2015
Corrupt officials turn a blind eye to slums on new roads and under flyovers
The richer you are , the less corrupt you are!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. ashima permalink
    February 16, 2007 8:07 am

    Lage Raho Munnabhai was also a great movie encouraging honest behaviour and teaching people the right way to behave. If we all take something from this movie and apply it to everyday life, things can definitely improve in our society.

  2. September 14, 2007 4:12 am

    Dear Nita,

    We have added another chapter in this fight against corruption and we would be really grateful if we could have your support in our effort.

    Looking forward to your mail. You can mail me at: khan.areeb@gmail.com

    Thanks and Regards,
    Areeb

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