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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

HOW TO DEAL WITH MONSTER CORRUPTION

 The 2G Spectrum scandal and irregularities in awarding contracts for Common Wealth Games not only dented our image but brought one core issue to centre stage: CORRUPTION.   

This is first time in India that a Minister  and top level bureaucrats including an MP and some businessmen were put behind bars for their role  and the highest judiciary  kept its vigilant eyes on the investigation.   So we are in the midst of  turbulent times.

Whenever any big scandal is surfaced, common man  feels helpless and insecure.    Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev at their individual capacities desperately tried to bring a  movement in people on the issue of corruption and black money earlier,  but they got only limited success due to one reason or other.    But the 2G scandal and Common Wealth Games Scam changed the landscape and a huge sudden outpouring of public anger helped Anna Hazare  to  galvanize support from middle class  with a slogan to bring  legislation on LOKPAL   which was  otherwise gathering dust for the last 42 years.  The issue helped to unite all social activists like Kiran Bedi, Baba Ram Dev,  Shanti Bhushan, Prashant Bhushan, Santhosh Hegde and Arvind Kejriwal etc. to fight corruption unitedly.   So the movement spread like a wildfire and Anna Hazare's protest programme at Jantar Mantar became a huge success  as  Government climbed down to announce immediate tabling of Lokpal Bill in the winter session of Parliament

Now the Lokpal Bill was introduced in Parliament and was referred back to Standing Committee.   The bill will have wide deliberations for  possible  insertions and deletions in the existing draft and the process will take some more time as it involves  consultations among all political parties .   The  so called Civil Society representatives at this stage should not struck to their demand  to introduce  only their version of Lokpal Bill i.e. Jan Lokpal Bill in Parliament.   They could give suggestions to the Standing Committee which will be considered on merit.   There should not be any apprehension at this stage, because it will get Parliament nod only after a thorough discussion in both Houses of Parliament and there is ample scope for improvements in draft stage.   The much contentious issue of inclusion of Prime Minister could also be amicably resolved.  But the  Team Anna is trying to seize the Govt.  and insisting to  introduce only their version of Lokpal Bill which is not correct.

Let us see, why anybody becomes corrupt ? What drives any person  to  indulge in corruption ?   I think it is greed in dangerous proportions and  absence of  moral values  which corrode the person.  The craving for material possessions  blinds  a person  to indulge  into  this  mess.  So the first reform should start at home.  At government level, the Administration should be transparent, especially at higher level and decision making should not be left to  any single individual.

When there is no corruption in higher echelons of  power,  lower level bureaucrats can't  venture into it.

The core issues that need to be addressed in the Lokpal Bill are timelines  set  for basic citizen services  like issue of  Ration Card,  Death/ Birth Certificate, Approval from nearby Municipality for approval for house plan, electrical connection, driving licence etc.   The Act should  explicitly mention the  kind of action  being taken for failure to deliver those services ?

It is appalling that these issues are not covered in the Govt. version of Lokpal Bill.  Th Lokpal Bill of Govt. version is very light and it  can not bring an effective legislation.  The recent Karnataka episode where Chief Minister Yddurappa had to submit his resignation for his indictment in mining irregularities is a grim reminder to consider the inclusion of Prime Minister in the Lokpal ambit.     Since we are not putting lid for improvements in the proposed legislation, it is not wise to scream panic at this stage.

It is a peculiar Indian syndrome. we explode  and seep our energies in the mindless arguments or agitations  cornering the contentious issues.  So it is the need of the hour to low down our emotions and allow the things to happen through consultative process.

After all,  we are a matured democracy and we should act responsibly.  Otherwise,  we will end up as a laughing stock before the world.   

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