Open House: Do you see more accountability and transparency in the government offices now? : The Tribune India

Open House: Do you see more accountability and transparency in the government offices now?

Change noticeable, but still a long way to go

Open House:  Do you see more accountability and transparency in the government offices now?

Illustration: Sandeep Joshi

More transparency, accountability now

The AAP government has claimed that Punjab is on its way to become a corruption-free state with the arrest of over 300 corrupt officers in the past one year. For sure, I see a lot of visible changes in the functioning of government officers. The government has launched a crusade against corruption and taken strict action against corrupt officials. It has adopted a "zero corruption policy" which has complemented their actions. The government has launched an anti-corruption helpline number for getting desirable results. Besides, it has made sincere efforts to eradicate and eliminate all kinds of mafias from Punjab and shown transparency in their functioning. Therefore, it shows that there is more transparency and accountability now. The government can make more efforts to achieve the goals of "corruption free" and "Rangla Punjab".

Jasleen Kaur

More efforts needed to weed out CORRUPTION

The functioning of government offices has improved to some extent only. Neither Modi-led Central Government nor the Bhagwant Mann-led state government can claim corruption-free nation and state. This is because of the fact that corruption is still deep-rooted in our system. Certainly, there is more accountability and transparency now, but in order to weed out corruption and declare a corruption-free state, lots of efforts and works still need to be done.

Sanjay Chawla

Situation on Ground level different

The state government's claim of successfully eradicating corruption through its media campaign appears to be misleading, as the ground-level situation is reportedly worse than before. The CM''s suggestion for the public to capture video or audio evidence of government servants asking for bribes and submit it to him may not be feasible on a large scale. It could be challenging for individuals to consistently record such instances, and concerns about privacy, safety, and potential retaliation may arise. Instead of relying solely on this approach, implementing the Right to Service Act, 2011, could be a more effective strategy in eradicating corruption. This act establishes time-bound frameworks for government employees to provide specific services and holds them liable for fines of up to Rs 20,000 from their own pockets if they fail to comply. However, it is surprising to learn from the local Deputy Commissioner's office that there is no provision for fines under this act. Without penalties, the act loses its effectiveness in holding guilty individuals accountable. To address this issue, state ministers should make frequent visits to government departments, review pending applications, and penalise defaulters. By strictly implementing the act and ensuring employees are answerable to the public for delays in their work, the state government can demonstrate its commitment to eradicating corruption.

Naresh Johar

AAP focused More on honest governance

The present government in Punjab is being praised for its effective governance, contrasting with previous administrations that were known for corruption and mismanagement. It is noteworthy that the common man is leading the government, even though he may lack experience, but possesses a clean reputation and benefits from the guidance of a highly educated mentor. The government's efforts are focused on two fronts: governing honestly and investigating cases of corruption against past bureaucrats who have acquired disproportionate assets. The CM does not hesitate to take action against his own ministers, either by reducing their powers or requesting their resignations. Additionally, politicians who exploited state institutions for personal gain are being held accountable under the law. Being a leader from the masses, the CM enjoys the trust and faith of the people. He avoids unnecessary expenditures from the state treasury, such as organising grand public events, and instead prioritises efficient governance. The distribution of free electricity units to citizens is seen as a beneficial initiative. As a result, government offices have become more punctual, and officials are displaying increased responsiveness. The fear of consequences from the common citizens seems to be working as a deterrent against corruption. This government is being seen as competent and in capable hands. However, it is essential for citizens to fulfill their responsibilities as well. Properly disposing of garbage and parking vehicles responsibly are examples of responsible behavior that can contribute to cleaner streets and a better overall environment. Additionally, avoiding unnecessary noise during odd hours reflects a mature mindset. Ultimately, the quality of government is often a reflection of the citizens' expectations and actions.


Transparency in policies needed

The 'India Against Corruption' (IAC) movement in the beginning of the last decade coincided with the rise of Arvind Kejriwal and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which today has government in two states of North India, including Punjab. AAP came to power here promising 'badlaav' or change in the state's administration, which had earned the notorious distinction of being corrupt. Hence, the phenomenon of corruption is not a new one here but is rather embedded in the blood of the people of the state. Many historical factors are responsible for that. Until 1992, the state has been under the President's rule for many times and this led to the concentration of powers in the hands of officials rather than elected representatives of the people, breeding corruption at many levels. To eliminate corruption from the system, the government needs to have transparency in policies and sufficient staff in departments. The Bhagwant Mann-led government has been trying hard to eliminate corruption from the state. However, more efforts are needed. The government needs accelerate the pace of computerisation and the websites of all departments need to be updated. A single window system for the clearance of industry proposals is a welcome step. Private entrepreneurship needs to be stimulated. To end corruption, the role of the Vigilance Bureau needs to be further enhanced. The RTI Act further needs to be implemented in a more professional way as many departments do not have proper computerised records and hence it becomes difficult to have information from these departments. The tenure and accountability of bureaucrats need to be fixed as small period tenures of bureaucrats in any department do not create any understanding of the subject matter of the respective department and they cannot perform. Above all, it is not only government that should strive to end corruption. People should also get awareness, sensitivity and proper knowledge of all government laws so that we can have a value-based society where ethics can play an important role.

Harvinder Singh Chugh

Govt doing its bit, public must support

Bhagwant Singh Mann led AAP government has made a good beginning in providing transparent, accountable and corruption-free administration by registering cases against more than 300 corrupt officials. However, what could not be done during the 75 years cannot be achieved in a year or so.

There is hardly any government department or office where services are rendered smoothly without taking any bribes. The recent arrest of inspector Inderjit Singh, the registration of an FIR against dismissed AIG Raj Jit Singh for the alleged involvement in drug smuggling and several other initiatives taken by the state government in this regard have started showing positive results. However, still, a lot remains to be done, especially at the lower levels. Most importantly, public cooperation is a must. Maximum public services need to be provided online in 'Seva Kendras', ensuring logical conclusion of registered cases and exemplary punishment to corrupt officials, maybe through special fast-track courts in a specified time-bound action. Because it's only when governance structures and procedures are followed and abided by, the system becomes transparent, responsive, participative, accountable, and corruption-free which in turn results in the establishment of the rule of law, empowers the masses and leads to the all-round development of the state.

Dr Kulwant Singh Phull

Corrupt a step ahead, difficult to nab them

Not much can be said regarding the change in the functioning of government offices, unless one has himself/herself experienced the government services lately, and got an opportunity to encounter the ground reality. Well, we really, recently, got to experience it, having applied online for the installation of HSRP on our vehicles. Government services are infamous for the indefinite pendency of tasks, inconvenience to the recipients and this was justified in our case as well. Despite the installation being scheduled for a fixed date, officials concerned failed to appear on the stipulated date. We had to make inquiries or complaints twice to be aware of the status of our work, which was eventually completed after a few weeks of wait. This shows that still the working is not up to the mark. Corruption has been rampant and pervasive, and it would be a difficult, time-consuming process to expunge it from the administration. The crucial arenas, such as that of medicines, are not devoid of it, as drug inspectors demand hefty bribe, even, to renew the drug licenses! It is better said than done to audio-video record corrupt officials, who would not let go a person without accepting commission at any cost, notwithstanding what tactics the people or the government adopt to catch them red-handed, they remain a step ahead. Thus, achieving transparency and accountancy is not going to be a cakewalk for the government.

Anshika Kohli

Govt working in earnest, change visible

The AAP government headed by Chief Minister Bhagwant Singh Mann is working at its best to tackle the menace of corruption. The cabinet ministers are keeping a strict vigil on the functioning of their respective departments. The ministers are on the ground, making surprise visits to their offices. Even the Transport Minister is personally checking the documents of buses and other Vehicles. Similarly, the Water Recourses Minister is on a spree to get the canal waters up to the tailend villages. It is a positive initiative towards boosting agriculture produce and to get the canal water to the field of every farmer. Yes, there is a visible change in the functioning of the government offices. The department officials are almost on time at their respective seats and politely listening to the grievances of the masses. Due to the revolution in computer science and information & technology, the masses are aware of the facilities provided to them. Masses are aware of their rights and similarly the officers concerned are cooperating with the masses to get their work done. If there is a will, there is a way.

Rajat Kumar Mohindru

Corruption-free Punjab in the making

The menace of corruption is so rampant that it has become a way of life. Hardly any work is accomplished in government offices without the exchange of illegal gratification. But the current dispensation aims to change that. Among the guarantees given while seeking people's mandate, the Aam Aadmi Party avowed to end this curse from the state. Soon upon its assuming power in Punjab, a campaign was launched to provide good governance by inducing efficiency, transparency and responsive attitude in various services, including a war against illicit drug trade and mafias. Over 300 officials indulging in malpractices have been booked in the past one year, as asserted by CM Bhagwant Maan. With this beginning, the state appears to be heading towards corruption-free governance, yet a lot more is required to root out the long imperative of inherited problems. While law and order is of prime essence in a welfare state, the inordinate delays brewing corruption have to be checked entirely to achieve the desired goals. Also, the government has to move away from freebies and extravaganza for mere populism and focus on robust planning and innovative reforms. More job opportunities are vital to absorb youth and fill in the genuine shortage of manpower in essential services. Absolutely, zero tolerance towards any sorts of malpractices vitiating peace and prosperity is desirable, but corruption in public services ought to be on constant vigil among the cauldron of such evils in the society.

Nirmaljit Singh Chatrath

Sustained effort is the only solution

Immediately after coming to power in March last year, the AAP-led government in Punjab adopted an avowed zero-tolerance policy towards corruption. It initiated a relentless campaign against the scourge which found great resonance with the people. So far, the Vigilance Bureau has taken serious action against 300 corruption-tainted politicians and officials, including three former Congress ministers. Even two AAP ministers had to quit the Cabinet and are now languishing in jail. Undeterred by a statewide protest by PCS officers after corruption cases were registered against some of them, enquiries against many others are also going on. The government has opened an online portal for complaints against corruption which has won widespread applause from various quarters. However, the Opposition has accused the AAP of doublespeak as out of 92 AAP MLAs, 57 per cent have criminal cases registered against them. It is very unfortunate that a party which was born out of an anti-graft movement is instead defending its tainted ministers like Manish Sisodia and Satyendar Jain who are behind bars. Anyhow, the government is thankfully persistent in its crusade against corruption. Those offering bribes should not be exempted from prosecution and equal penal action should be taken against them. An honest, systematic and sustained effort is needed to root out corruption. Those who have been embroiled in corruption cases should be imprisoned, their ill-gotten wealth and material assets should be attached. They should be debarred from pensionary benefits and other facilities, and should be banned from contesting elections for a period of not less than 10 years. A positive course of action by the government is imperative to bring Badlav in Punjab.

DS Kang

Parties should rise above petty politics

With the successive Congress and the SAD-BJP dispensations' alleged involvement in malpractices and their inability to check it, the people of Punjab have long been fed up with the prevailing culture of corruption that has severely impacted governance in the state. It is praiseworthy that within one year of its coming to power early last year, the AAP government has waged a constant battle against corruption. More than 300 persons, including three ministers from the Congress and two from AAP, and a number of civil and police officials, have been imprisoned to date, notwithstanding an agitation launched by the top bureaucracy of the state against the move. There is certainly a visible change in the government functioning barring a few underhand, unreported graft cases. But unfortunately, the Opposition has blamed the government for vendetta politics and for promoting corruption as many of its leaders in Delhi and Punjab are facing similar charges. Corruption is an institutional problem which needs to be dealt at the individual, societal and governmental level. Parties should rise above petty politicking and cooperate with the government in the ongoing crusade against corruption in the state. It is a considered opinion that only sustained efforts in this direction will make governance transparent and accountable, and ultimately bring back the lost prestige and glory of Punjab.

Parvaan Singh Kang

Problem deep-rooted, no change as of now

There were huge expectations from AAP to make the state corruption-free as claimed by them to do so. However, it has not lived up to the people's expectations. Punjab is considered the eight most corrupt state. There is no use of anticorruption helpline, the staff is incompetent and accused of malpractice. All old policies have been rebranded, sewa kendras by the previous party renovated in the name of mohalla clinic. There are still corruption and extortion cases. Problem is deep rooted. A strict policy to curb the menace is needed. They should issue warning to erring employees that they would be terminated from the services if found guilty. People should also be aware of their duties of saying no to bribe. The whole system seems corrupt. In order to give a corruption-free state, the government has to go a long way and eradicate it from the grass-root level. There is hardly any office or department where services are rendered smoothly without any involvement of corruption. No doubt they have issued helpline numbers and email IDs, but nobody takes the notice of common man's grievances. To eradicate corruption, maximum services should be brought online and on digital platform with a timeframe for delivery.

Shashi Kiran

Don't expect any magic in short period

There is no doubt that the AAP government is well prepared and fully determined to make Punjab a corruption-free state as some major initiatives have already been taken and substantial progress made to show their credentials. But more accountability of administrative machinery and governance transparency is still required to make the changes visible to ordinary citizens. However, the prompt and strict action taken against their own ministers is a true testimony to their will power and commitment towards eradicating corruption from the state. Political corruption has been long retrenched in every system due to the previous government's greed of retaining power through maintaining unholy alliances with bureaucrats and mafia gangs operating in the state. A clear vision coupled with strong political, as shown by AAP so far, will definitely eradicate the menace of corruption in the long run. Expecting some magic in a short period will be nothing but an illusion only.

Jagdish Chander

People’s belief in clean governance up

The real change the government has brought is the strengthening of the belief in people about the corruption-free system of governance. I have seen in the past year that whenever any government official tries to put hurdles in the work of a common man, he says that he will complain to the CM about it. This is the perceptible change that has come by the actions of the government. During the tenure of the AAP government so far, more than 300 corrupt officials have been put behind the bars, which is a major advantage in changing the mindset and confidence of the masses. There is a saying that "the real change is brought when the people believe that change can be brought." The common man now shows the trust in the CM that he will bring the corrupt to justice. The steps taken by the CM are commendable, but unfortunately, unscrupulousness is within the roots of Punjab's administration which will be hard to get rid of and will take much more time than just 5 years to rectify. But considering the change brought in such short time, this government can really reestablish the 'Sunehra Punjab'.

Lakshit Jindal


Aided and unaided colleges across the state are at loggerheads with the government over the centralised portal for admissions. They say the admissions will dip further with the decision, which will hit them financially. On the other, the government has claimed it will streamline the admission process and help students make informed choices. What can be done to end the stalemate?

Suggestions in not more than 200 words can be sent to [email protected] by Thursday (June 8).

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