Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Dealing with corruption

How about a moral society?

My opposition to Anna Hazare's agitation to force his version of the Jan Lokpal Bill on the Government without bothering about Parliament and its law-making process has been misconstrued by many as support for politicians denuded of scruples and ethics. Contesting such bunkum is meaningless as critics more often than not have pre-conceived notions.

Most Anna fans are blind to reason and logic; sadly, they are also ignorant of how Parliament functions; tragically, they are disdainful of the parliamentary system of governance; ironically, they claim to uphold democracy while repudiating the very basis of our democracy: Our electoral system.

I firmly believe that a Lokpal Bill, call it Jan Lokpal if you must, will not cure our Government and society of the debilitating ailment called 'corruption'. Yet another law will at best serve as a palliative -- it will provide us with a sense of relief rather than kill the virus that is eating away at the innards of our nation.

What we need are reforms, radical and sweeping, to remove the reasons and incentives for giving and accepting bribes. We need to move towards minimum government, maximum governance. We need to take away discretionary powers from politicians and babus. We need to make Government transparent to the extent that the RTI becomes redundant.

We must not countenance any suggestion to maintain the status quo, or gloss over what are often described as sins of omission and commission but are in reality the pocketing of commission by those in power and authority.

Yet, we must not lose sight of the fact that our politics and bureaucracy are an accurate reflection of our society; after all, neither politicians nor bureaucrats come from an alien planet, they are elected and selected from amidst us.

Can we then, as a society, look within? And force fundamental changes in our outlook? Can we demand, and mobilise masses in support of that demand, radical reforms without even a day’s delay?

More importantly, can we strive to build a moral society which is strong and can resist the temptation of succumbing to the amorality that we now witness?

These are some of the issues I have raised in Vacuous morality and low cunning. Your views and comments, as always, are welcome.


Prakash Iyer said...

I wonder how much of corruption is inherent in indian society. I moved to US recently,and tens of thousands of indians have moved to US/UK/Aus etc. Most of them seem to follow the rules as much as the next american. Whether its lane driving, or getting a permit from a govt office to open a restaurant. Even in india, we usually see a very low level of civic sense. But look at delhi metro, its being used by so many people, and even in peak hours (when it cant be cleaned every 10 minutes or so) you dont see paan stains or litter. The moment the same junta steps out on the street it returns to same old practice of littering and spitting. Is it a case of broken windows theory (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broken_windows_theory)? Where an existing bad "system" perpetuates bad behaviour from the society? So, in that context, how much weightage can we attach to "looking in" compared to the cliched "change the system". Cliche it may be, but it seems more correct than the response to "look in".

Ram N Kumar said...

This is what I too propagated and people labeled me supporter of congress, government and corruption.
May I take your permission to share this on my facebook wall to put a balanced view.

sunaath said...

When the legislators are affected with the infection of corruption it is the duty of the common people to heal them with drugs like `satyagraha'. There is nothing wrong with Anna's movement. In fact it was necessary.

Anonymous said...

Corruption & spiritual bankruptcy are so extensively pervasive among Indian society not because of lack of knowledge about the VALUE of Ethics.

Most of those in power are so much at ease with dishonesty because of lack of punishment. Adulterators , unscrupulous builders , forgerers & tax defaulters luxuriate so arrogantly for the same reasons.

Why not let new fresh clean entrants take over governance ? Police force should be able to function without any interference from any political party.

Inculcation of ethical values starts at the cradle itself as cradle habits persist to the grave. For which every parent should internalise & narrate stories of our Saints , Sages & Enlightenend Rulers who were such devout beings. By blasphemous references to Sri Ram & looting of Temple Treasures we only end up ensuring we speed towards perdition.

How many Nachiketas can we spot among Indians today ? Particularly among the political class.

No Mist said...

There is one more aspect of the Lokpal or JanLokpal issue. To be effective, a Lokpal must have a permanent India wide bureaucracy. If each district is given a district-Lokpal under whom there will be a junior Lokpal for each block and support staff (for accounts, clerical work, peons, etc) ... we are talking of about 100 babus in every district. Taken total this implies about 60000 underlings (in mofussil India) of the chief Lokpal sitting in new Delhi. In metros, there will be many more employees. Given the way overstaffing occurs in every govt dept, we may see a huge bureaucratic superstructure of about 1 lakh babus being created (actually imposed) all over India. these babus will suck their share of salary and allowances, all of course paid by the middle class (don't they deserve it LOL) ...

seeing how the existing bureaucracy works in mofussil India .. each BDO generates about 20 lakh per month of black money for himself ... there are multitudes of depts of govt of India .. agriculture, irrigation, water supply, etc ... all these generate their own black money ... now the question is how difficult will it be for them to part with 1 lakh each to give to the district lokpal every month ... we r talking of the district lokpal getting ~10 lakh per month in bribe money ... how many ppl will refuse this money ?

I foresee a future when manning the lokpal bureaucracy will be the most sought after position for out babus. it will be absolutely the most corrupt branch of the indian state. so much for eradication of corruption !!

i am wondering who calls our middle class as smart !

Anonymous said...

Prakash Iyer is right in diagnosing the inherent flaws in most Indians' character.

Indians " behave " in countries like Singapore & Middle East only because of the fear of punishment. The same Indians abuse human rights laws , freedom of speech etc when in America , Europe & Australia.

Mass exodus of Indians anywhere is potentially harmful for the same reasons. In Gulf countries it is the same Indians who have vitiated the work culture included , with their nepotism & bribery.

One of my distant relatives is a well known Paediatrician in Tamil Nadu. He has been the most sought after by film fraternity in addition to the affluent class. In the late seventies his house was raided by income tax sleuths. As it was an open secret he & his wife having only one son had unaccounted gold biscuits , currency notes , diamonds sewn into sofa cushions , mattresses etc.

They could easily escape by bribing certain influential ones. He still parades as a "respectable citizen" feted by many , presides over certain functions spouting quotations from Hindu Scriptures.

The film Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron is the real India.

Anonymous said...

The saying people get the government they deserve makes a lot of sense. It is not just the legislators. From the basic level most Indians are not honest , virtuous angels as we have been deluding ourselves & the rest of the world.

The nectar bearing flowers DO NOT advertise or cry in high decibels " Incredible India/ merabharathmahhan " to attract the honeybees.

That explains why & how so many Westerners ( non Indians) came seeking Ramana Bhagavan. And still keep coming. Making a lot of adjustments in their food habits etc. They VALUE what is VALUABLE.

Without earning it , we Indians are wallowing self congratulatorily in hubris of horrendous proportions.

kautilya said...

@Kanchanji : big fan. but I disagree here.

you are going into technical details and talking about 'correct' processes. what we witnessed on the other hand was purely emotional.

anna and co were riding a wave- a wave of frustration and anger. and no amount of rational and logical argument was going to work. have you tried to logically explain things to an angry wife? it only adds fuel and always backfires.

in this case the govt was either too arrogant to acknowledge the storm or feet-dragging or both..

lok pal is not a silver bullet to stop corruption. most people understand. but they needed a vehicle to vent out and send a strong message.