Thursday, March 10, 2011

279 - How India can strive for corruption-free society - Express Buzz

P Haridas
First Published : 14 Oct 2010 12:00:00 AM IST

I must congratulate the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) for involving the citizens of India to explore how to work for a corruption-free India. It is impossible to meet this challenge in a matter of a few years. Unfortunately our great country has been identified as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. This was not so till the 1970s. All citizens of the country who are really dedicated to the nation are concerned about this malaise. Even when there is a common platform it has become the practice to invite someone big who is himself tainted. Therefore there is no gathering of like-minded people who are all committed to the welfare of the nation who can voice their views and take corrective steps.

Today it is widely accepted that there is a price tag for every office that is held mostly in the government sector and sometimes in the private sector. For a corruption-free society there are three important arms which should be totally filled with people with integrity, namely the judiciary, the army and the police.

I, as a student of history, personally feel that no system of government has survived for over hundred years. At one time the Chinese emperors were the world leaders, then the Czars of Russia, the Roman Empire, the Greek Empire and of course our own Bharat, thousands of years back. We have to first find out whether our system of governance is the right one. For a person to get elected he/she has to necessarily meet his/her electorate which runs into lakhs. How does one expect to meet so many people unless money is spent? This generates dishonesty among those who aspire to be representatives of the people. Thus, naturally his/her first goal would be to recover whatever money he/she has spent to get elected. This has a chain of reactions.

So the first suggestion is that only national parties should field candidates and they should spend money for electing their representatives. Thus, the party becomes stronger than the individual. Only at designated places the parties shall enumerate or display their candidates and display the parties’ programmes, projects and their missions.

Even though the high court and the Supreme Court are constitutional authorities, the manner of their appointment leaves much to be desired.

Like the Election Commission there must be a high level judicial commission consisting of five persons of integrity who shall serve for a period of five years. It is this commission that should try to find out persons with integrity for various judicial posts.

With every citizen getting a unique identification card (Aadhaar) and in addition the PAN card the details of every individual can be easily obtained through modern technologies. Similarly there must be a finance commission which shall have three to five members with top integrity which shall decide the financial policy of the country.

All the ministers who are elected can implement their decisions or promises to their constituencies as per the policies laid down by these experts. The sensitive issue of reservation is one more factor that leads to all manipulations for making the unworthy worthy. It may be a tall order to bring the policy of reservation to an end. Only merit and ability should be the consideration. All sections of people should have access to all posts only on the basis of their merits and abilities. Ambedkar himself had given a limit of 50 years for any such reservation.

There must be a national development council whose sole object should be to develop and upgrade the infrastructure and the basic necessities to be provided to citizens. These are just a few stray thoughts that have occurred to me and I am sure that with many more inputs from like-minded patriotic citizens we can make our Bharat a corruption-free nation.

There is no acid test to find out a person’s integrity, loyalty and honesty. The persons who are policy-makers should not have the authority to implement the policies they formulate.

The next question is how do we get such persons, when we have literate and illiterate people who are equally concerned with the progress and development of the nation. Each party should have a strict screening test to identify the honesty, integrity and commitment of the person whom they propose to nominate for election. The test need not be a written one. It could be done by exposing the candidate to public duties and assessing how he/she responds to it. The whole process will be overseen by a group which will impartially assess the candidate. Since such persons will be full time dedicated and involved in the building of the state, they must be kept above wants — this will help them in giving their full time and talent to the nation.

This is only a broad sketch which I agree cannot be put into practice within a particular time schedule but at least we as citizens of India should activate our thought processes so that one day we will have the Bharat which Lord Macaulay observed 175 years back when he saw the Bright India making development in all spheres and wondered how the British could make inroads to grab the sovereignty of the nation.

Our country is the only one proclaiming a value as a mission, namely Satyameva Jayate. Let truth be victorious. I am sure we can see a similar Bharat once again. Jai Bharat. Jai Hind!
(The writer is a senior advocate in Chennai)