Earlier in Forum







Q: What should be done to stop corruption?
(This is the fourth instalment of readers’ response)

Wanted, a tradition of integrity

Corruption is a deep-rooted menace that has seeped into the social fabric to such an extent that now it seems natural. We wonder if we should accept it as the price we pay for socialism, progress and civilisation. Edmund Burke warned the world that a corrupt influence is a perennial spring of decay and disorder. The lure of easy money is all due to human weakness and is difficult to overcome. We need to produce a climate of change both among public servants and politicians. A new tradition of integrity can be established only if those who bear the ultimate responsibility of governance set the right example. We should submit to some serious introspection and realise the enormity of our weakness. Once we have realised this, it should not be difficult to end corruption.


Adopt stringent measures

Corruption is not confined to a single country but is a worldwide phenomenon. Nepotism, sycophancy, favouritism, political coercion, misappropriation and misallocation of funds and misuse of power for serving vested interest are some of the factors responsible for corruption. It is very difficult to eradicate corruption from society completely, but it can be minimised by adopting stringent measures, giving concession to certain quarters, ending monopolies, adopting a simple, easily accessible redressal system of public grievances. In government bodies, public welfare and distributive departments, the information system should be transparent and easily comprehendable. In 1959, the Government of India established Panchayati Raj institutions to meet and dispose off issues at the grassroots level. Due to political interferences and lack of power, these institutions have almost become inactive. The government must empower these institutions at village levels.

In urban areas, public works system should be monitored regularly. The tardy work culture should be replaced by an efficient and better delivery system. Those who are found guilty of debarring others from performing their duties should be punished. The people who are settling their personal scores at the cost of public interest should also be brought to the book. Important ingredients of 1991 Trade Policies should be implemented in letter and spirit.


Impose tax on expenditure

Reform tax structure and then see the progress. Bring in a new tax (let’s call it expenditure tax) to shock politicians and bureaucrats. Discipline, punctuality, efficiency and accountability can come only with privatisation. Lawmakers share a greater responsibility. If they are strict, tax structure is easily synchronised. A committee of intellectuals should be sent abroad to study cases where corruption has been successfully combated. With Mr P. Chidamabaran and Dr Manmohan Singh at the helm, it is now the right time to act.


Administer anti-corruption drug

The dreaded disease of corruption is still curable. It requires an anti-corruption drug booster to be administered at regular intervals after making proper diagnosis by the doctors of the administrative machinery. The heads of various government and non-government organisations should come forward with adequate planning and valuable suggestions to find a permanent solution to this social evil. On the other hand, teachers and students can also play a leading role in helping the administration to eradicate this menace.


Give officials a raise

The battle has to be fought on many fronts. Society should realise the dangers of looking at short-term gains. Let’s give our civil servants a big fat raise and then see if they are still tempted by easy money. We’d like to see political parties declaring their assets and accepting only legitimised donations. As religious organisations have a great hold on the people, these can program the masses to shun corruption. Willpower can kill the menace.


Increase retirement benefits

In this era of cyber world, everything works on a double click, and a single click just highlights the fact. There have been many solutions for targeting corruption, but all have been single clicks, non-executable points that get highlighted. Corruption has its seeds in human evolution. "The survival of the fittest" has been redefined to mean "survival of the richest". Our sense of security is partly to blame for our problem. Opening more old-age homes would make life after retirement more secure and positively impact the fight against corruption.

On e-mail

What parents can do

Politics is everywhere and so is corruption. No government agency can check corruption unless the people uplift their character. It’s the duty of every parent to build a strong character of the child. This will see corruption die a slow natural death.

On e-mail

Computer can make it easier

To stop corruption, the nation needs a strong political will and collective resolve. The media should spearhead a movement against the corrupt officials. It should be more accessible. Procedures in all government departments should be simplified. E-governance would be a good way of doing this. There should be a common website to accept feedback from the public. Names and photographs of the corrupt should always remain posted on that Website. Central agencies like the CBI should have periodic crackdowns on specific government departments and made their findings public.

On e-mail

Fire the corrupt

Our Constitution is flexible and open to change. It can be amended to go against the corrupt. Whenever a corrupt employee is caught, he or she should not be dismissed, not put under suspension. In his or her place, a new employee should immediately be installed.


Strengthen Whistleblower Act

The Internal Transparency, a world body, reports corruption in all countries. It has placed India at third or fourth position among the most corrupt countries in Asia. Mr N. Vitthal, former Chief Vigilance Commissioner of India, gave a number of suggestions during his tenure to end corruption, but in the end he had to retire disappointed. His suggestions could not be implemented and even Parliament could not bring any Bill based on these. There is need for transparency in government. Transparency’s ideal tool is e-governance. Give the Whistleblower Act some teeth.


EC should be more free

Reduce the role of money in elections and reward honest leaders before you mould public opinion against corruption. Misuse of official machinery by political leaders can be checked if the Election Commission is more independent. Only persons of high integrity should be its members. Lok Pals can nail corrupt political leaders.


Begin with tehsil offices

Corruption is prevalent mainly in the corridors of power. We should allow the police, revenue cells and vigilance authorities to lay their hands on the big fish and treat them as petty offenders. For every deed registered in tehsils, one has to pay a fixed amount as gratification through touts or deed writers. In some tehsils, this amount runs into a few lakh rupees per day. If the government sincerely wants to check corruption at this level, it should send members of various commissions on surprise visits to tehsil offices to catch the culprits.

On e-mail

Implement ‘one man, one account’

All cash transactions more than Rs 500 should be through banks. Only one bank account should be allowed for every person, on the pattern of the PPF account. Anyone who is convicted of corruption should be publicly flogged and his or her bank account and assets should be frozen.


Think of the nation

Yogis, philosophers and swamis issue sermons on good life everyday, but are rarely ever able to influence their followers. The English were faithful to the King, so they could conquer the whole world. India, too, expects every man to do his duty.


Give the right to recall

Either we change the peoples’ mindset through education or we give our children an insecure future. Exemplary punishment to the corrupt can be a big deterrent. If any person is accused or convicted of corruption, he or she should be debarred from holding any public office or contesting any election. For that, we’ll need to get the right to recall. Whistleblowers should be provided with adequate security and if their initiative leads to conviction of the corrupt, they should be treated as national heroes.


Let SC control vigilance

Anti-corruption departments should be given more powers and these should be under the direct control of the Supreme Court. Special courts should be set up to deal with corruption cases and mass awareness drives should be launched to identify the corrupt. Individually, honesty is the best policy for every citizen.

Col BEANT SINGH (retd),
Jalandhar Cantonment

Quicken trials

Corruption can be minimised if there is transparency in offices. One should be allowed to check all records if something is suspected. Fast trials will discourage the corrupt.


Statutory warning

All currency notes should carry the statutory warning, "Corruption is injurious to nation’s health."


Value-based politics needed

Today, most of the politicians are involved in scams and tax evasions. Persons with criminal records or criminal cases pending against them find their way to Parliament and state legislatures and occupy ministerial berths. Unless this sick segment is shunned, the direction of their movement will remain unchanged. No legal order can generate a cultural stream, which can save us from the character crises that we are facing. We have only to create a different Indian who will be intolerant to corruption and system debasement. If our national standard of ethics were high, it would be impossible for corruption to penetrate into our everyday life. It is here, where we have miserably failed.


People should act responsibly

It is true that corruption is a worldwide problem. But in India, the tentacles of corruption are spreading even wider and it seems we will become No. 1 corrupt country in the world very soon. It is a matter of grave concern that most of the people are indulging in it. Be it government/semi-government or private agency, no field is untouched by it. Many bureaucrats and politicians who hold key positions in these sectors accept bribes in different shapes. We can curb this problem to some extent if these responsible people mend their ways.


Make people aware of their rights

The people of our country are less educated. They must be made aware of their rights and duties. They must be educated to draw a clear line between professional ethics and duty towards the nation. However, in today’s world most of them try to make huge money to establish well in society. They don’t bother about the national development. This problem cannot be solved — not unless the people of this largest democracy country become fully aware of their fundamental rights and duties.

Baroti (HP)

Award capital punishment

Corruption breeds corruption. It is spreading day by day like cancer, which is difficult to cure. With a few exceptions, almost all of us are involved in it in one way or the other. Corruption is being accepted as a way of life in society. Laws are passed but are not being implemented properly and equally. There is a continuous erosion of moral and ethical values among the people. The corrupt enjoys the patronage of the corrupt. The virus of delay is prevalent in almost all offices. Elections are not genuine and fair and democracy is misused. To eradicate this menace, there should be anti-corruption departments at the Centre as well as in the states. The minds of the people should be revolutionised by appealing to their conscience. There is an urgent need of overhauling the system. Stringent laws should be introduced to deal with the bribe-taker as well as the bribe-giver.

Like China, capital punishment should be awarded to the corrupt. Transparency and accountability in public dealings should be stressed. The media should act as watchdogs. The judiciary can play its due part in this direction. Above all, our politicians should have the political will to deal with the problem. Moral and spiritual education should be introduced in schools. The spirit of the honest should not be crushed. There is still a ray of hope.


Coming Monday more letters on this issue.


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