Times of India poll on 7th May 2002 showed that corruption has emerged as the biggest problem facing the country today. A large section of the population in India is poor and uneducated which necessitates huge public investments for the provision of basic needs. There is a top–to–down rather than a decentralised approach to decision-making. Most of the rules and regulations are complicated and unclear. So their interpretation is at the discretion of the bureaucrats. These interpretations make it difficult to prevent corruption in India.
Forms of Corruption
Corruption is spread over in society in several forms. The major ones are: –
- Bribe – money offered in cash or kind or gift as an inducement to procure illegal or dishonest action in favour of the giver
- Nepotism – undue favour from the holder of patronage to relatives
- Misappropriation – using others money for one’s own case
- Patronage – wrong support/encouragement given by patron and thus misusing the position
Corruption in India
In India corruption exists at a high, middle and at a petty or lower level. A corruption of systems and institutions formulating and implementing public policy, malpractices during defence purchases, public investments in infrastructure, procurement for food grains for the Public Distribution System, etc can be cited as examples of corruption at a high level. Malpractices at the execution or implementation levels for public projects or during the delivery of services are examples of middle-level corruption. The petty level of corruption frequently occurs in everyday life. Though the amounts are small, it is exploitative in nature.
Corruption needs immediate attention as it has retarded our development. It has created the black and red money which is not available for productive investment. In spite of the liberalisation of the economy, corruption comes in the way of Foreign Direct Investment inflows. In short, it has become a threat to the national security of India. The serious consequences of corruption have created the need to fight it from all angles at the earliest.
How to Prevent Corruption?
This paper deals with some of the genuine recommendations to combat corruption. Corruption in any system or society depends on three factors – firstly, the set of individuals’ sense of values, secondly, the set of social values and thirdly, a system of governance or administration.
- The first solution is that the citizens should fight corruption more strongly. In the past, the perception was that a citizen will have to bribe a public servant if he wants to get a benefit which was illegal. But today we have reached a stage where even after satisfying legitimate requirements, the citizens have to bribe the public servants.
According to N. Vittal, Ex-Central Vigilance Commissioner, we should put into practice the advice of the Taitreya Upanishad about how we can resolve our problems by coming together.
- A family attachment is an important cause of corruption. A family person feels that he should earn enough not only for himself and his life but also for his children and grandchildren and perhaps seven generations. So he requires an enormous accumulation of wealth. In this situation, a strong youth movement in the country can help reduce corruption at a family level. Each student should take a vow to begin this exercise courageously within the family. Former President, Dr Abdul Kalam has shown great confidence in the youth to bring India out of the clutches of corruption by 2020.
- Unlike the United States, a red-tape ridden elaborate system in India leads to enormous delays. This probably makes the common man consider paying bribes as ‘speed money. Transparency should be a keyword in public offices. Technological development can be the best solution in this respect. Online transactions would reduce the need for citizens to visit public offices and government departments.
- The law enforcement authorities also have a crucial role to play in this context. The only thing, which has to be ensured, is proper, impartial, and unbiased use of various anti-corruption Acts to take strong, deterrent prompt and timely legal action against the offenders, irrespective of their political connections, and money or muscle power. Fast track judiciary courts to resolve corruption-related cases may help in reducing the intensity of the problem.
- Simplified forms and procedures reduce the dependence of the users on intermediaries. This will also minimise the Government-citizen interfaces and reduce the potential for corruption.
- A value-based leadership encourages effective governance. Positive values like compassion, helping others, love, truthfulness etc. help to build and develop society. Mahatma Gandhi and Jamshedji Tata are examples of value-based leaders. India should have such leadership in politics, religion, science, industry, education, administration and practically in every sphere.
- The implementation of policies like anti-poverty programmes should be corruption-free. Only a small fraction of the benefit in these programmes accrues to the target population. There should be control checkpoints to find out the scope of corruption. Additionally, strict measures should be taken against those enforcing programmes only with the intention to make money out of it.
- It is necessary to informally share the corporate best practices to prevent corruption. This will help to provide inputs to regulators to exercise better frameworks. For example, accounting firms, many a time act as consultants of the firm. This leads to a conflict of interest. Perhaps one of the simplest things to do would be to prevent the auditing firm from doing consultancy for the same firms so that scams like Enron can be avoided. An important feature of the Public Sector Enterprises was the vigilance function performed under the overall supervision of the Central Vigilance Commission. It is necessary to define the role of such authority after post-reforms and disinvestment policy. Read More about the US FCPA and its impact on India.
- Another effective way to prevent corruption is to introduce a method that will enable political parties to secure electoral funds in a transparent manner. The central government should consider financing elections through an election fund. Germany, Norway, Sweden and some advanced countries of Europe follow this mechanism of elections.
- The media has to perform quite an active role in exposing cases of corruption. It should not just do the sting operations but also expose bad practices to the public, making them aware and compelling them to avoid such incidences in the future. The strategy of building public opinion against corruption can be effectively implemented through mass media.
The nation can progress only if there is good governance, there can be no good governance unless moral values are inculcated in the people. There is no way out but to change the system if it is not value-based. Corruption is a global phenomenon and hence fighting corruption at the global level should be the first priority even at the international level.
- Ram Ahuja ‘Social Problems in India’ Rawat Publications, Jaipur and New Delhi, 1999
- Vittal, Corruption in India The Roadblock to National Prosperity, Academic Foundations, New Delhi, 2003