Monday, June 10, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



How to destroy the web of corruption in administration

The first step to tackle any problem is to accept its existence. Fortunately, everyone of us seems to be highly worked up about the present-day corrupt system. Political corruption is eventually the root cause but it can be corrected by people not by electing the corrupt or recalling those who turn corrupt during their tenures. Here are a few steps needed to be taken to combat corruption in our system of governance.

One, the common man must learn to join the queue and refrain himself from giving bribe to any officer\clerk to get work done out of turn. For those in great hurry, the government can have tatkal schemes.

Two, babudom, the legacy of the British Raj, must be dismantled. Computer files should replace our present-day unwieldy and user-unfriendly moth-eaten file system. Hard copies be made only for important legal and property matters.

Three, small bribes should never be condoned. Bribing a clerk to move the file upwards is in no way different from paying Rs 50 lakh or so to now suspended Punjab Public Service Commission Chairman Ravi Sidhu for a job.

Four, boards with warning that bribe giving and receiving is a criminal offence, punishable with imprisonment of many years be displayed prominently in all offices where there is scope for corruption. 


Such offices should also have complaint books with the top man and telephone number/ e-mail address of the vigilance officer. Sensitive offices should have close-circuit TVs. The entry of agents and consultants should be strictly forbidden in such offices and/or premises.

Five, selections to all Central Government\State government services including scientific cadres, public sector etc. should be made by the Union Public Service Commission to avoid another PPSC scandal. The selection boards should necessarily have retired service officers. There should be no extension beyond the age of superannuation.

Six, the education system needs to be cleansed of rampant corruption. The apex bodies granting permission for professional colleges reportedly charge such huge sums that amounts collected by the PPSC Chairman pales into insignificance. Such bodies need to be revamped if not outright dismantled. Merit should replace money in the education system. No deemed university status should be bestowed on any college unless it has more than 50 years of meritorious results. No donation be permitted in school admissions.

Seven, there would be still certain jobs where corruption cannot be entirely due to customary or historical reasons. Let the government auction such posts and fix the maximum rate of bribes which can be called commission. The officials who exercise such option need not be paid any salary or pension which in any case would be peanuts.

Eight, the bribe-giver must be treated as harshly as the bribe-taker. In the recent PPSC scandal, the parents of some candidates are equally responsible for vitiating the system with their money power and depriving the deserving candidates of a fair chance to compete.

And finally, the Central Vigilance Commission needs to be strengthened with men of courage and conviction who could go beyond weaving webs. If a retired cabinet secretary could correct our incorrigible election system, perhaps score of upright officers who have been victimised for their fight against corruption while in service at great personal sacrifice would be far more accomplished to root out corruption in the system as the next CVC? If corruption is not checked now, there would be anarchy or revolution. The sooner, the better.


Divert Chenab water to the Ravi

Those opposing the scrapping of the Indus Water Treaty are of the view that it may annoy the world opinion, have no immediate impact on ground since it will require 10-15 years to build the necessary infrastructure and even then it may result in the flooding of Punjab and Haryana as these states may not be able to consume all the extra water likely to become available. It may also make Bangladesh and Nepal nervous as we have water treaties with these countries as well.

Though this treaty is heavily loaded in favour of Pakistan, it has never been India's intention to usurp Pakistan's legitimate share of water. It is the proxy war started by Pakistan which has forced India to explore the possibility of exploiting its geographic advantage and using it as a deterrent weapon against Pakistan.

For this limited purpose, it would be more than enough if the water of the Chenab only is diverted to the river Ravi in Himachal Pradesh. All that would be needed on the ground is a gated tunnel. The diverted water shall supplement the storage in the Ranjit Sagar Dam on the Ravi temporarily and any loss of hydropower on the Chenab shall be compensated by the corresponding gain on the Ravi.

Neither the world community nor the neighbouring states of Bangladesh and Nepal can have any legitimate objection to India keeping such a tunnel ready in its own territory. Its destructive capacity and deterrence value for Pakistan will be the same as that of our nuclear missiles to which all are already reconciled.

This tunnel can also act as an insurance against the safety of the Iran-India gas pipeline which is proposed to pass through Pakistan. Had this tunnel been ready today, its opening would have proved much more effective than the stopping of a train or bus service between India and Pakistan.

S. P. MALHOTRA, Former Engineer-in-Chief, Irrigation Department, Haryana, Panchkula


A grand victory!

Congratulations on a grand victory in the grand fight for Indian journalism! Your editorial on Justice Garewalís intervention in the Ravi Sidhu case was appropriate and well worded. It revealed that you had not lost your old pugnacity to hit back at any injustice.

Mr Anupam Guptaís piece was also enlightening. Above all, I am glad that the two of you put some life into the bar and bench in Chandigarh forcing them to support you openly.

Something like this is unthinkable in the commercialised world of journalism and pliable system of justice we have in Mumbai. The tragedy is that there is not a single editor like you here who could have put up the fight you did.

I suggest that at the end of the trial you publish all documents pertaining to the case as a dossier for future record. Such fights for freedom of the Press may not come for decades to come.


War, the only solution

India must win over the faith of Kashmiris by suggesting that they are safe within the India.

In a situation where Gen Musharraf is defying international pressure with impunity, it is hardly a surprise that the USAís diplomacy has little to show in result. Now it needs to be backed up with full force with some concrete action.

As for the danger of Pakistani nuclear weapons falling into the hands of the jehadis, America and Israel precede India on their hit of targets. These are very trying times. India has responded only in words to Pakistanís purported firing of three missiles named after raiders and plunderers.

Indiaís drive against proxy war can be successful only if the nurseries of global tension are completely destroyed in Pakistan. Just because the war hasnít been declared formally it does not mean it isnít war. Hence war is the only solution to rein in proxy war.

Pakistanís nuclear blackmail may be giving the West the heeble-jeebles, but the people seem unfazed. Pakistan and India are nuclear powers and the stakes are too high to obey for. It will be the end of life in South Asia and only the mad will go for it. Hence India must declare war.

Secondly, with American troops present in Pakistan, participating in operations to mop up the Al-Qaeda Taliban team on Pakistan soil, it would be suicidal for Pakistan to use the nuclear arsenal.

The second option consists in abrogating the Indus treaty and depriving Pakistan of its share of river water. By this reasoning, Pakistan, despite the tough talk, would think hundred times before pulling the trigger of nuclear weapons.


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