For a country that is emerging as a Global Leader on many fronts including the size of its economy, it is rather unfortunate to note the shackles of Corruption, India is still stuck with.
The severity of the problem lies in the fact that bribes are not just paid out as ‘speed money’ or to win ‘out-of-turn favors’, but are required for the Government Officer to ‘just do his/ her job’. It is generally a defacto second-income for the Officer, which is expected and budgeted for, at home. And while the large and politically charged Scams are splashing all across the media, the size of this “everyday” Corruption could be much larger in size and needs to be fought, tooth-and-nail.
A 2011 report by IndiaForensic pegged the menace of Corruption in India at $345 Billion, over a decade. To put it in perspective, the size of Corruption in India is more than the GDP of Nepal. This number does not account for the money laundered out of India, which stands at a further staggering $419 Billion, over a decade.
Yes, a lot has changed since then and yet, so much more needs to be done as a mark of respect to all the Freedom Fighters who fought at the cost of their lives, and for securing the future of next generations, both of whom we owe a lot to.
Here’s the #Pancha-Tantra proposal to “#CorruptionMuktBharat”:
- All starts with Accountability:
Political Leadership at the highest levels in each State and the Union have to set examples through their own personal conduct and in enforcing transparent practices. New benchmarks for Corruption free States, Ministers and People’s Representatives have to be set – New and younger faces with a better understanding of the New India need to emerge.
Corruption or Charity begins at home. Political parties need to open up on their ‘source of funds’ and hold themselves accountable and offer themselves for scrutiny by relevant Agencies.
We, the People, need to push for Corruption-free Society and elect such representatives who have set high standards, and not blindly follow parties. That will in the first place push the Political Parties to position honest candidates in Elections. #CorruptionNahiChalega. Unless, it becomes a people’s movement, like the one a few years ago by beloved Anna Hazare, there is not enough pressure on the lawmakers to consider it an issue of magnitude.
The Countries with least Corruption including Singapore, Denmark, Sweden, and Switzerland all have active participation by the People, both in using their franchise and in pushing reforms.
- Strong Negative Incentives:
Newer regulations/ law needs to be passed to ban politicians from contesting any polls in case of Corruption Charges and no promotions for Bureaucrats who’re under the Vigilance watch by any of the Enforcement Agencies. While Officers who’re proven guilty are to be dismissed from service with immediate effect, there needs to be a “Social Stigma” associated with Corruption and the Corrupt be widely shamed. #WallofShame to be installed in each Government Offices to this effect.
On the other hand, The honest ones should be identified with their clearly visible ‘badge of honor’, maybe a different uniform or a hat, that is an indicator to the public visiting Government Offices. The ‘badge of honor’ would then be, both, a reward and a deterrent against Corruption.
- Watchdog agency, powered by the People:
The best source of ‘actionable’ information on Corruption is with People who’re unwilling, yet having to pay bribes to get work done. The Government needs to leverage this huge untapped social intelligence through an App/ portal and feed to a brand new #SachBharat Agency, reporting only to the President of India and with overarching powers to investigate Policy Makers and Politicians too. The legacy agencies have not earnt much of trust with Citizens of the nation to keep their place.
Yes, there may be some amount of junk/ fraudulent input, but on the basis of “number” of people providing information & basis the proof submitted (anonymously), it may still be possible to circle the suspects. The agencies’ work then is more focused, as they no longer have to ‘figure’ the list of ‘wrongdoers’, but verify the data and go after them.
- Enabling Justice and Empowering Law & Order Administration:
The recent ‘Judge to Population ratio’, is very unhealthy at 1 Judge for every 55,500 Citizens & there is a shortfall of atleast 5,018 Courtrooms. These numbers between them explain how 1.80 crore cases on an average are filed every year and only about 50 lakh cases are disposed & 1.3 Crore Cases remain pending before the Courts in India.
There is roughly 1 Police Officer (Inspector and above) for every 24,000 Population on a National average and this ratio further gets skewed when looked at regionally. These numbers clearly are insufficient to put the fear of “Law” in any offender – Corruption or otherwise. Swift disposal of Justice is the need of the hour. #KanoonKeLambeHaath.
This investment in Law & Order and Judiciary is bound to yield richly in preventing money laundering (estimated $419 Bn in a decade), embezzlement and Corruption, and will return the Investment to Government several times over, in the years to come.
- Data Digitization and Contact Minimization:
Digitizing the data with the Government and making it accessible, as necessary, to the Citizens would not just cut down one of the root causes of Corruption, but will save the Government tons of money in saved time and effort. ‘Aadhar’ to be the fundamental record for an individual to interact with the Government – for Subsidies, for IT returns, for Property Registration, Banking, Welfare Schemes, Voting and any other service offered.
Automating and taking the Government procedures “Online” will CUT a vital contact point the Public has with the Government Officers, thereby a conduit of Corruption. #NaRahegiBhansNaBhajegiBhansuri. The Online process will need to have inbuilt transparency and published timelines for each type of work. The Escalation matrix that needs to be followed, when the work doesn’t happen in the scheduled time, should be built into the design of such a Process and published for the ‘Public Eye’
About the Author: Ninja is the pen name of Niranjan Rao Reddyshetty, who is a Dreamer and a Writer. He writes poems, songs, and stories when they dawn upon him. He spends time with his family and runs his startup, the rest of the time.