Opinion

Cleansing public life of corruption

T. R. Anandan | Updated on January 24, 2011 Published on January 04, 2011

Employees of a facility management service cleaning up an office in Thiruvananthapuram. - Photo: S Mahinsha   -  THE HINDU

Most important is to insulate the future generation from the contagion. Moulding the character of students and instilling in them the right values is essential.

Never before has the country witnessed corruption and related malfeasance in public life in such magnitude as in recent months. The pervasive affliction is not restricted to any particular segment. It extends to the service set-up too; and the scale is frightening. The affliction is growing in enormity in the political sphere also.

Causative factors

Among the several reasons for corruption flourishing, the chief one is a steep fall in values such as honesty and integrity among the people, and any meaningful initiative to root out the menace should be to realise this crucial fact and initiate corrective steps.

The growth of corruption is aggravated by the prevailing administrative system, wherein laborious rules and procedures are stipulated for sanctions, purchases, supervision of execution of works, and so on. There is a willing or unwilling participation of the public to circumvent obstacles created by the above factors.

Drive to strengthen values

The most important point is to insulate the future generation from the contagion. It follows that moulding the character of students and instilling in them values of honesty, integrity, fearless adherence to principles, and above all, a feeling that the service rendered in one's duty is the service to the nation, are necessary. Steps to tackle corruption: An intensive and extensive campaign against the evil; a proactive detection programme; ruthless enforcement of anti-corruption laws; and entrusting investigations with only persons of proven integrity, efficiency and commitment.

Preventive steps

The campaign should cover educative programmes such as workshops, seminars, publicity through print and visual media.

Preventing incidences of corruption is of vital importance, but normally it receives much less attention. The vigilance set-ups in Government departments normally come into the picture only after a case of corruption is detected, and proceeds with routine investigation and prosecution where necessary.

Preventive measures could be: Giving the widest publicity regarding vigilance set-ups and telephone numbers of the incumbent officers; interacting with the public informally to secure information (assuring confidentiality); laying traps where suspicious activities are noticed; scrutiny of files and records pertaining to processing of cases for sanctions or any statutory requirements to detect instances of deliberate delays, improper and/or unauthorised relaxation of rules, and so on; abundant care in the preparation of specifications for works to be awarded, procedures, target, time allowed, etc., to avoid loopholes which could later be taken advantage of in execution of works, supply of stores or finalising projects; surveillance of suspicious characters; detection of growth of disproportionate wealth; planting informers at locations where bribe-taking is likely and protection of whistle-blowers.

At the stage of collection of evidence, an important impediment is the unwillingness of the bribe-giver to give evidence , since even offering a bribe is a culpable offence. In appropriate cases, therefore, the bribe-giver should be exempted from being proceeded against in order to ensure his cooperation. Institutions such as the Lok Pal and Lok Ayukta have a vital role in checking the menace.

A statutory requirement that all elected representatives, from the Panchayat to Parliament, should furnish to a stipulated statutory authority a sworn statement of their assets and liabilities and that of near relatives, before being permitted to take oath of office should be put in place.

Acquisition of assets, movable and immovable above a pre-fixed value should be after getting due approval from an appropriate statutory authority and information on the source of funds for such acquisition should also be made compulsory.

( The author is a former vigilance officer, Southern Telecom Region, Chennai.)

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Published on January 04, 2011
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