Fight against corruption-a myth or reality

Amit Gupta
These days everyone is so much concerned about ways and means to check the menace of corruption, corrupt and corrupt practices. Good governance and controlling corruption are pre-requisite factors for ensuring positive growth, development and security of a nation. Governance can be defined as traditions and institutions by which authority in a country is exercised for common good. It broadly includes political dimension, economic dimension and the institutional respect dimension. It is true that Government systems are the mirror reflections of the society. So if the society seriously wants the systems to be corruption free, there is no need of strict enforcement by anti-corruption institutions. We are a democratic country with principles of equality and justice enshrined in our Constitution. Our Governments are selected by elections wherein all can participate irrespective of caste, creed and religion. Those elected representatives who are part of society and selected from the society controls the administrative and other systems working in the country for providing gamut of services to the society. Corruption is broadly defined as misuse of public office for private gain and have ranged from embezzlement of public money to abuse of power including bribery. The causes of corruption in our country broadly include excessive regulations coupled with discretionary powers to numerous Government departments with opaque bureaucracy, monopoly of government controlled institutions on certain goods and services delivery, and the lack of transparent laws and processes. Transparency International 2018 Corruption Perception Index ranks the country at 78th place out of 180 countries. If we compare our systems with Denmark and New Zealand ranking at the top of the corruption free countries, it is found that they have build up robust systems most of which are contrary to the systems available in our country. If we compare our education system with their education system, we come to know that they have build strong homogenous education system throughout the length and breadth of their territory which lays foundation of a strong society with strong individuals who are more productive, skilled and balanced. Researchers also found that countries who have achieved great results in past years by developing strong institutions through good governance have considerably increased their per capita income with substantial reduction in infant mortality, illiteracy and poverty. Governance also matters significantly for country’s competitiveness. The myth that good governance and corruption free environment is possible in wealthy nations is negated in recent years by various developing economies having low per capita income and achieving great results by building strong institutions and anti-corruption mechanisms through good governance. We all aspire to experience an India and ensure our children inherit a country that will be inhabited by the rich culture, honesty, ethics, integrity, justice, practices, policies and principles. Corruption is an issue that adversely affects India’s economy of central, state and local Government agencies. Not only has it held the economy back from reaching new heights, but rampant corruption can adversely affect the country’s development. Studies further reveal that largest contributors to corruption are entitlement programs, social spending schemes and other areas of corruption include India’s commercial transport industry which is forced to pay billions of rupees in bribes annually to numerous regulatory and enforcement stops on interstate highways. We need to do away with the existence of public sector in our country in many sectors which acts as cover up for corruption in public procurement by various government institutions to avoid transparency and equal opportunity to prospective bidders/vendors. Recently Government has taken many steps to check this illegal nexus by reducing the dependence on these discretionary institutions setup from time to time and promoting more transparent modes of public procurement but still we have to go long way to address the real issue. The biggest tool in fight against corruption are individuals that make up a unit in the society and society as a whole. But for that charity begins at home and we need to learn to say no to anyone in the government, non government and private organizations demanding undue favours. We have to teach our children and younger generations about the ill effects of corruption and value of morals, ethics and honesty. The governments need to build systems with less discretionary powers at various levels, simplified and more transparent procedures, adopting more digitized and effective online systems in delivery of services to the people and reducing customer-employee real-time interactions which will prevent the illegal nexus. All these measures can also include adequate salaries, safeguards and welfare schemes for the employees and their families. Being in transitory phase we need to identify, encourage, protect and reward those individuals actively participating in anti-corruption crusades at individual levels or collectively in the society and at various levels in the Government Institutions and for that government need to put necessary mechanisms in place like adequate laws, procedures and agencies. We need to be more comprehensive and bolder in our approach if we have to shelve the myth and collectively fight against corruption in our country and take integrity pledge every year and remind ourselves of the pledge every time whenever someone asks us to pay bribe and learn to say no to him/her and report the matter to anti corruption systems through whatever mode we can and social media is also a big platform available to citizens of a country. Among Kautilya’s adages, the best known may be the one about how difficult it is to prove the financial dishonesty of a public official. “Just as fish moving under water cannot possibly be found out either as drinking or not drinking water, so Government servants employed in Government work cannot be found out [while] taking money [for themselves].”
The author is presently posted as SSP (Poonch-Rajouri Wing) in Anti-Corruption Bureau J&K