Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Declaring war on corruption

More than four years ago I had written in my diary “My goal beckons and challenges me to find the path to it and also the will and perseverance to keep to the path to reach it”. By nature I am allergic to corruption and I always wanted to eradicate it, at least bring it down to a level where it stops being a nuisance and an unofficial tax for a common person. In the U.S., Canada and Western Europe there could be corruption in large construction or defence projects but the man or woman on the street can spend a lifetime without coming across a single incidence of corruption. In this regard, I wanted India to stand as an equal to these countries. But now I have become more specific, in five years I want India to be among the world’s fifty most honest countries as assessed by the Berlin-based Transparency International. From the present 87th rank, it will have to be a jump of at least 37 places. From a desire it has now become a goal that beckons me.

The challenge lies in finding a pathway to this goal. So many people in different parts of the country are seized of combating corruption. Some are convinced that corruption starts at the top and then travels down, they, therefore, minutely observe the unexplained aberrations from the normal by the top decision makers and, when needed, pin them down by initiating against them Public Interest litigation in the High Courts or Supreme Court. There are others who concentrate on simplifying the laws and rules so there could be better compliance, consequently less number of violations and fewer chances for the corrupt officials to ask for bribes for looking the other way. I admire all these efforts, they are extremely necessary, but the path which I have chosen is of a mass movement against corruption.

The movement will move on four legs. The first, educating people to abide by the law and follow the rules because by doing this conscientiously they would seldom find themselves in a situation where a government employee could demand bribes from them. The second, making people conscious of their right to being served by government agencies established for that very purpose, be it a primary school, health centre, Panchayat, block development office, land registration department, etc. The third, empowering people to be able to refuse to pay bribes - come what may. And the fourth and the last, providing strength and support to the honest among government officials so that they may make bold to discipline their corrupt juniors and to resist, oppose and ultimately expose the corrupt peers and seniors.

So far so good, but the problem is how to get this movement going on the ground? This is occupying me and I have also requested my like-minded friends to apply themselves to finding a way. It is not going to be easy, nothing worth while is, but I am confident that, together, we will arrive at a solution and that in the near future.

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