Corruption which is analogous to pollution or disease – exists everywhere – in private as well as public sectors, in rich countries and poor, first world and third world. It is incorrect to assume that ‘nothing can be done about it’ or ‘it’s not only our problem and it’s not all our fault alone’. Do we say that because water pollution or AIDS, exist in the world, so we have to live with it and do nothing to reduce/ eliminate?
Every country has corruption – just the varieties, patterns and extent differs.
At the broadest level, corruption is the misuse of office. Corrupt acts include – bribery, extortion, kickbacks, influence-peddling, nepotism, fraud, speed money, embezzlement and other forms of illicit behavior. Most ‘Systems’ can withstand some corruption. But when corruption becomes the norm, its effects are crippling.
For example – Corruption in the judicial system, property rights, and banking/ credit – devastates economic and political development.
Whereas issues such as allowing polluters continue to pollute the rivers, hospitals extorting patients, or schools exploiting parents for admissions – is environmentally and socially corrosive.
Systematic corruption is one of the principal reasons why the most underdeveloped parts of our planet stay that way. ‘Systematic Attack’ is needed on the ‘Systematic Corruption’. Neither free markets nor coalition governments will succeed – if the institutions of the private and public sectors are riddled with systematic corruption. Experience teaches us that broad social changes, as well as focused anti-corruption efforts, can make a big difference.
C=M+D-A. When someone has power (monopoly (M)) over a service and also has the discretion (D) to decide whether or not you receive it and how much you get, and is not accountable (A) – this combination generates Corruption (C). Monopolies must be reduced or carefully regulated. Official discretion must be documented and clarified i.e. Transparency must be enhanced. The probability of conviction within stipulated time must increase, and the penalties for corruption (for both givers and takers) must be severe.
It is time to give shock to the ‘corrupt equilibrium’ (where rulers and top civil servants and some private companies gain, but society loses) with specific focus on reforming the system, combined with great political sensitivity and strategy, people support and whole-hearted participation. International cooperation can also make a big difference. For example, if Swiss banks mandate the depositors to furnish suitable proof of ‘Where’ the money came from, then the ill-gotten deposits (black money) won’t be able to stashed, tracking it down becomes easier, and accountability established. This is just one example of how the First World purports corruption in the Third World.
India is amongst the most corrupt governments in the world and tops the list for black money in the entire world. At least 50% of Indians have had first-hand experience of paying bribes or influence peddling to successfully get jobs done in public office. Taxes and bribes are common across the state borders. ‘Transparency International’ estimates that truckers pay annually US$5 billion in bribes and found that working with India’s civil servants was a ‘slow and painful’ process. India still ranks in the bottom quartile of developing nations in terms of the ease of doing business, and compared to China and other lower developed Asian nations, the average time taken to secure the clearances for a startup or to invoke bankruptcy is much greater.
Another serious problem is ‘Criminalization’ of Indian politics. More than ¾ of the Indian Parliament members are facing or have faced criminal charges – including human trafficking, immigration rackets, embezzlement, rape and even murder. Should they be sitting in the Parliament and governing us. At state level, situation is often worse with Uttar Pradesh taking the lead in the number of tainted ministers.
Black money in politics
According to the data provided by the Swiss Banking Association Report – Indians are the largest depositors of illegal money in Swiss banks and India has more black money than the rest of the world combined. Indian Swiss bank account assets are worth 13 times the country’s national debt. The recent scams involving unimaginably big amounts of money, such as the 2G spectrum scam, are well known. It is estimated that more than trillion dollars are stashed away in foreign havens, while 80% of Indians earn less than 2$ per day and every second child is malnourished. It seems as if only the honest people are poor in India and want to get rid of their poverty by education, emigration to cities, and immigration, whereas all the corrupt ones, like Hasan Ali Khan are getting rich through scams and crime. The amount which he has embezzled in a year – is enough to fund the national drinking water project in all the six lakh (600,000) villages in India for the next 10 years.
No wonder India is a rich country filled with poor people.
Black money in Land and property (real estate)
Officials often steal state property. Mafia Raj consisting of municipal and other government officials, elected politicians, judicial officers, real estate developers and law enforcement officials, acquire, develop and sell land in illegal ways.
Black money in Tendering processes and awarding contracts
Government officials having discretionary powers in awarding contracts engage in preferential treatment for selected bidders and display negligence in quality control processes – example is CWG.
Several state funded construction activities in India, such as road building, are dominated by construction mafias, consisting of corrupt public works officials, materials suppliers, politicians and construction contractors. Shoddy construction and material substitution result in roads and highways being dangerous, which are simply washed away in monsoons.
Black money in Medicine
Corruption is rampant in Government Hospitals, in the form of non availability of medicines (or fake medicines), getting admission, consultations with doctors and availing diagnostic services. There have been recent cases of diversion of medical supplies from government hospitals and clinics as well as supply and distribution of medicines of inferior quality.
Some hospitals are charging extra amounts from rich people. The unfair nexus between the insurance companies and hospitals is obvious. They force the patients to get treated only in specific list of hospitals.
Black money in getting even the Death Certificates
Grieving families are often asked in Government-run offices to pay bribes to obtain the Death Certificate.
Black money in Transportation
Officials who oversee transportation regulations, safety norms, traffic violations engage in rent seeking activity. Typically a lenient treatment for an offending driver or vehicle is accompanied by expectation of a bribe. India has multiple jurisdictions for vehicular laws as well as overlapping laws at the central government and state government level which worsens bureaucratic complications. This leads to facilitation payments to accelerate or avoid the routine government processes.
Black money in Judiciary
Judicial corruption in India is attributable to factors such as delays in the disposal of cases, shortage of judges and complex procedures. Recent property scam involving son-in-law of the former CJI of India K G Balakrishnan.
Black money in Armed forces
Selling defense stores items in the open market is rampant. High profile scandals such as – ‘Sukhna land’, ‘Adarsh housing scam’ has shaken public faith in the country’s military even when large sums are being spent on modernizing the armed forces. This shows the nexus between the armed forces, bureaucracy and the politicians in the embezzlement of government property.
Black money in Police
Even lodging a FIR or reporting a theft can not be done without paying bribe to police officials. Victims are encouraged, even threatened for not filing an official complaint. If a case somehow gets registered, the police usually do not take any timely action.
Despite State prohibitions against torture and custodial misconduct by the police, torture is widespread in police custody, which is a major reason behind deaths in custody. The police often torture innocent people until a ‘confession’ is obtained to save influential and wealthy offenders. The main reason is the lack of accountability of the police.
Black money in Media
Media gets involved through paid news and sometimes unethical support to corrupt to increase their TRPs.
Components of an Anti-Corruption Strategy:
1) Deep fry the “big fish”: There are many corruption cases “pending” which have been set aside for reasons ranging from political sensitivity to corrupted judiciary. These cases should be pushed forward, or the Government should quickly attempt to identify a few big tax evaders, a few big bribe givers and a few high-level government bribe takers. Since a campaign against corruption can too often become a campaign against the opposition, the fist big fish that are fried should be from the party-in-power.
2) Involve people: Citizens are fertile sources of information about ‘Where’ corruption incubates. Consult the citizens via systematic surveys, hot lines, public rallies (Weekly Durbars) and ongoing educational programs (Workshops). Protect the anonymity of the whistleblowers. Self-policing by the private sector, especially when supported with international investigative capabilities (and credibility), enable businesses say “no” to bribes.
3) Showcase ongoing ‘Anti Corruption’ efforts: Carry out “vulnerability assessments” of public and private institutions. This is something like ‘Polio’ campaigns – which emphasize prevention and regular participation.
4) Improve incentives: Performance measurement and the overhauling of pay schemes in the public sector – is the need of the hour. It is also important that such recognition and incentives be awarded promptly and in-public.
5) Strengthen the ‘Right to Information’ act: This act requires the government officials to furnish information requested by citizens within stipulated timelines or face punitive action. Computerization of services helps reduce corruption if implemented in a proper manner.
6) Bring the ‘Jan Lokpal’ bill: Septuagenarian Hazare’s call for a bill creating an independent ombudsman with court-like powers that could prosecute ministers, bureaucrats and judges. An amendment to the Constitution has been proposed to implement the Lokayukta uniformly across Indian States.
The CVC, is independent but has no power to investigate cases, and can only advise not enforce, while the CBI can investigate, but is not independent because it requires government permission to launch probes and prosecute.
The ‘Jan Lokpal’ bill also covers important aspect of protecting the whistleblowers who play a major role in the fight against corruption. Assassination of Satyendra Dubey is not to be forgotten. Indian courts are regularly ordering probe in cases of murders or so-called suicide of several whistle blowers. One of the latest case of such murder is of V Sasindran Company Secretary of Palakkad based Malabar Cement Limited, a Government company in Kerala and his two minor children. Kerala High Court ordered CBI probe on 18 February 2011. Initially, CBI showed its unwillingness for probing into such cases citing over-burden as a reason.
7) Anti-Corruption Police and Courts: Establish ‘Special Fast-Track and Fully Empowered’ courts which are more efficient than the traditional Indian courts – with traveling judges and law enforcement agents.
8) Civil sector initiatives
Civil sector is doing its bit to raise awareness about Corruption related issues and to build anti-corruption platforms.
5th Pillar is one such organization that is promoting the use of Zero Rupee Notes to fight corruption by shaming the officials who ask for bribe.
Another popular initiative is ‘Jaago Re’ from Tata Tea.
www.ekakizunj.com is inspired by Mr. G. R. Khairnar, the erstwhile Mumbai Municipal Deputy Commissioner who is known for his one man fight against corruption.
Other such initiatives include:
Reference help from wikipedia.org