Tuesday, December 12

A Strategy to Eradicate Corruption

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A strategy to eradicate corruption There is no denying that corruption has become a routine in India day in and day out. It is so deep rooted at many levels in our land that one can’t eradicate it without undertaking a major surgical operation. A serious war of sorts so to say. It has grown into a giant as well over the last 50 years.. So much so, to find a corruption free man in any government circle is a wild goose chase. Our Government has not spelt out any plan so far to deal with this cancer. Appointing a Lok Ayut is not going to solve the problem even by 0.0001 percent. We need millions of field workers to spot out, identify the corrupt and produce evidence so that they are punished. We must be clear in our mind about, “What corruption is?” The list could run into thousand points but broadly speaking they are: Taking a bribe for getting a job done which in any case is a citizen’s right or for doing an undue favour;. deliberate delaying of issuing a document/work order etc, to a citizen without any reason. Acting against the laid down rules in awarding contracts or executing work. As things are now, a citizen seems to enjoy no right at all for anything. He is all the time at the receiving end and at the mercy of a government servant. It is he who dictates the terms. A citizen doesn’t know who to approach for redress. He is a silent sufferer. The PRO and Vigilance officers posted at the various department are inefficient and corrupt themselves. As a matter of fact, only the most unwanted officers are posted to these appointments or the ones on the verge of retirement. Strangely there is no watch tower against political corruption at all. A politician seems to be a free bird. He simply cannot be caught ! They too need to be brought under this proposed umbrella. Since corruption has seeped into every department and at every level of the government and our daily life itself, you would need an Army of officials to tackle it. But then, we do have such an Army within the land – the Income tax payers. Those IT payers who are retired from service and who still continue to pay the Tax and are over the age of sixty would be the members of our Watch dog Army. According to the current records, only 3% of the Indian population are tax payers which amounts to 31.5 million. I couldn’t get the precise figures of those above sixty years of age. Shall we take that around 15% belong to that age group? This works out to approximately 4.5 million. A gigantic force indeed, isn’t it? They would be our soldiers and leaders as well. Let the government through a Parliamentary act or Administrative act, authorise these IT payers (ITPs) to book the culprits and also suggest a suitable punishment not amounting to dismissal. The departmental heads may ask the culprit to prove his innocence or admit the crime voluntarily. Once the guilt has been proved/admitted;/substantiated, the HOD may award a stronger punishment than that recommended by the ITP. The HODs are duty bound to honour an ITP’s report and the ITP must be informed of the action taken by the HOD. Only in extreme cases, should the HODs disagree with the report of an ITP. In such cases, the decision of the HOD must be endorsed by the highest authority in the department. The ITPs’ policing duty would be restricted to the government department right up to the village level initially and later extended to the non government sector. An ITP may also at his/her own initiative could undertake an investigation. Or, any aggrieved citizen could approach an ITP for investigation of any issue in any quarter. An ITP is an invisible man and needs to collect his evidence without the knowledge of the offender, as far as possible. More so, since he is not under any police protective cover for his physical safety. The ITP is to catch the small fishes such as a policeman taking bribe from truck drivers, a shop keeper using wrong scales or selling substandard material or adulterated items, public servants not performing their duty properly or whiling away their time in the canteen, a clerk demanding bribe to push the file, an officer giving excuses for not performing his role or stalling the progress of a case and so on. An ordinary citizen is concerned with such matters so that he/she feels satisfied with the services provided by the government. The ITP should submit a proper report supported by the evidence of at least one eye witness along with video or voice recording where necessary. This is so to prevent an ITP from taking revenge on an employee. Toward this, every ITP may carry a portable voice recorder and a sensitive video camera and other latest surveillance equipment The government must arrange to train the ITPs on their uses also.. These equipment must be provided to the ITPs on loan and on request. It is not necessary that the government should appoint specific IT payers as ITPs for the watchdog role. Any IT payer can convert himself/herself into an ITP when a situation demands it. All that is needed is his PAN card and the surveillance equipment The ITPs are for small crimes. Since an ITP is not a recognizable person, all the government employees will be on their toes for the fear that an ITP may emerge from the crowd and collect his evidence without the knowledge of the government employee. This invisible stick is enough to prevent the employees from indulging in corrupt practices.. This is an honorary job and a Service to the society to root out corruption. An ITP is not required to go on a raid like the CBI men but whatever mal practice he sees with his own eyes, he should act upon them with full devotion. The Government in its turn may give some kind of benefit including monetary reward for the services rendered by an ITP. Punishment must be awarded immediately on receipt of the report from an ITP. These will be administrative actions at the hand of the HOD/competent authority and there would be no need to send the culprit to the court. The accused may challenge an ITP’s report in a court of law and if he fails to prove his innocence, the court may enhance the punishment recommended by the ITP including dismissal. As regards the MPs, action must be initiated by the Speaker and Vice President. This action will be invariably in the form of depriving them of their seat in the Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha. As regards the other politicians, the party president should remove them from membership. In all the cases, the culprit would be expected to prove his innocence The proposal made in this article may sound tyrannical and totalitarian but then it must be remembered that we are trying to remove a chronic ulcer that is 50 years old. Only a major surgical operation will heal this disease. Once the system stabilizes in the government and political circles, it could be extended to the civil sector in course of time. The ITPs are not substitutes for CBI who should continue their investigative tasks as hitherto and concentrate on the big fish. ————-

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