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Is India serious about fighting corruption?

Soutik Biswas | 13:00 UK time, Monday, 11 April 2011

An anti-corruption protest in India

Is India serious about fighting corruption? Going by some striking data put together by the country's respected, independent watchdog PRS Legislative Research, it doesn't appear so.

India's government officials charged with corruption can be prosecuted only after an approval by the federal or state government. However, by simply sitting on requests from prosecuting agencies, governments can easily slow down prosecutions or make sure that the offenders are never prosecuted.

But are governments serious about prosecuting their own officers? Consider this.

  • The federal government has not responded to 236 requests to prosecute public servants on corruption-related charges till the end of 2010. The overwhelming majority of these requests -155 or 66% - were pending for more than three months.
  • State governments run by different parties have not fared much better. They have not responded to 84 requests till the end of 2010 of which 13, or 15% were pending for more than three months.
  • India's Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) is tasked with fighting corruption in the federal government. Between 2005 and 2009, only 6% of the cases in which the agency found corruption were sanctioned for prosecution by the government. The remaining 94% were let off with departmental penalties, some of them minor.
  • The powerful Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is the main investigative agency used by the CVC to probe corruption and misuse of office by government officials. But till the end of 2010, 21% of its key jobs remained vacant, seriously hindering its working.
  • The criminal justice system is also failing in prosecuting officials charged with corruption. There were nearly 10,000 CBI cases pending in the courts till the end of 2010 - and 23% of these cases had been pending for more than 10 years.
  • As I reported earlier, whistleblowers are facing serious challenges. In 2004, the government empowered the CVC to act on complaints from whistleblowers. Between 2005 and 2009, the CVC received only 1731 complaints from whistleblowers, a paltry annual average of 346.

Is it any surprise then that an anti-corruption bill has been introduced eight times in the parliament since 1968 with no results?

The idea of setting up an Ombudsman type institution in India was first floated in 1963 during a parliamentary debate. Ideally, it would be an institution independent of the judiciary, executive and legislature and would be free to chose the investigation method and agency.

A total of 140 countries around the world have the office of an Ombudsman. Many believe India needs it most. Has its time finally arrived? The government agreed over the weekend to form a panel to draft a stronger law as per the demands of anti-corruption campaigners led by the redoubtable Anna Hazare, who broke a four-day fast over the issue. Watch this space.


  • Comment number 1.

    The reluctance of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to disclose the specifics of the secret swiss bank accounts held by 'potential' tax evaders from India (as revealed by WikiLeaks) suggests that members of his government are on the list of perpetrators (not that the opposition themselves are sacrosanct). "Violation of international treaties on double taxation", for sure! To answer your question- sadly no.

  • Comment number 2.

    I am somehow skeptical of Mr. Hazare's end of hunger strike, He was just 'assured' that all his demands will be met and he ends it. Somehow I have grown skeptical of these hunger strikers as they have never achieved anything. How many times we have not seen this stunt around India and how many times we have seen it achieve nothing.

  • Comment number 3.

    It is evident form many instances that indicates even the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is involved in collusion and/or suppression of corruption in public offices. There is a long list of alleged corruption against many vice chancellor and directors of central universities and national research institutes in India. E.g if anyone google “director csir fudging”, s/he will know the detail of a director of a CSIR (India’s largest scientific research organization) institute in Lucknow is known to have fudged his CV. The matter has been reported in CSIR’s own website. I also know that the matter was referred to PMO. After several years of ignoring that, PMO not only put the whole issue under carpet but also promoted that person to head another national institute in Mohali, near Delhi. Another director of another CSIR institute (CIMAP) in the same city, Lucknow has been forced to resign for massive corruption charges, but no punitive action was taken against him. In India a simple resignation is hard to come by even after prosecution. We conveniently forget that resignation is not any punishment!
    There are many allegations against many high profile institutions, e.g CSIR itself and its directors; yet almost nothing have been done or changed. This is so common in almost any institution in India, be it private or public. Many such ex-scientocrates (bureaucrat more , scientist less) from powerful Government agencies are recruited by private companies once they retire; mainly to help the private companies to navigate government bureaucracy (to get "approvals" and by-pass few remaining obligations of corporate governance).

    The attitude of Indian and Indian origin people, who are living in US/EU for long, are not much better in opposing or accepting corruption as part of their lives in India. Behavior of Indian or Indian origin faculties in US and EU are far more appalling and oppressive towards junior staff/student (mainly PhD and postdocs). It shows the in-built mental set up for majority of Indians, even when they live abroad for long.
    The sense of justice and core values of a person is believed to be fully developed within yearly years of ones’ lives (believed to be within 3 years after birth). It is very hard to change that, even if you send such kids to the best schools or universities later. Parents have the most important role in shaping that sense of justice and honesty. It is almost impossible to raise an honest and morally upright children by a parent who hardly respect women/wife/girl, who takes bribe, who is having a typical feudal mentality and shows that openly against his juniors, domestic help/servants etc. It is very natural or “practical” for such kids to accept corruption and use it for their benefit. They will shout against corruption only when they are at the receiving end. People occupying higher positions in India (both in government and private organizations) are overwhelming majority from that highly corrupt class.

    The "Jan Lokpal Bill" surely will not abolish corruption in India. But it surely a great start and I hope will gather steam once general people knows about its actual form and start giving some initial results.

  • Comment number 4.

    The main deterrence against any form of corruption is “social shame” factor. Majority of western countries has successfully used that to minimize corruption. It is OUR responsibility to bring that “social shame” factor back in our social lives. A known corrupt person who openly takes bribe, abuse/harass women (may be wife or other women in home, neighborhood or office or public transport), who disturbs the neighborhood (late night party, noisy celebration etc) should be made to feel ashamed and sorry. Unless we can do that, we will not be able to minimize corruption and other forms of unacceptable social behavior to a manageable level. Laws probably will not be sufficient, simply because it need decent people to implement it, which we do not have now. Current laws are not that bad or insufficient to deal with corruptions if those are properly implemented.

    The second most effective way to deal corruption is the free flow of information. Probably that is THE most important way to combat corruption and bringing back transparency in governance. I do think that internet is the most important discovery since last century. We will have a much better society if more people are engaged, more discussion and debate happens, accessibility of transparent information becomes easier. We need to expose corrupt practices and corrupt people in public forums with relevant facts and figures. Let people know the reality.
    Internet played a major role in recent revolutions in the Arab world, which was unthinkable just a few decades ago. Today it is harder for any country or clan to commit atrocities and suppress the information from others. We need to use this powerful tool, for our own society and country.

  • Comment number 5.

    The fast by Anna Hazare did at least few stones rolling.
    India did
    India signed the UN convocation on graft in 2005 but the UPA government, particularly the department of personnel and training (DoPT), has steadfastly refused to ratify it. India stands out as one of the few countries in the world that have not acceded to the UN convention against corruption. This convention, which came into force in 2005, has 140 countries on its list.

    But after Anna Hazare's fast, the second most powerful person in the ministry and the main trouble shooter in UPA government, Mr Pranab Mukherjee says that, "The UN convention against corruption signed by India six years ago will be ratified shortly".

  • Comment number 6.

    India fighting corruption? - The question is a joke.

    India is a land of mockery, political violence and there is no Rule of Law.

    Shameless Indian politicians are supporting Italian Sonia Gandhi who is an alleged collaborator with the Sri Lankan regime in killing hundreds of thousands of Hindu Tamils.

    The way DMK rules Tamil Nadu and the Phone scandal implicating Sonia Gandhi shows the corruption is from the top leaders.

    I doubt that the Indians have the ability to eliminate corruption!

  • Comment number 7.

    Indian society has the responsibility too. Population growth,social divide contributes to the mind set of "bribing is normal and it is must to succeed". Voters accept cash to cast their vote to a particular candidate. If this is socially acceptable the society can not expect a good governance from the elected candidate. Education and automation can bring down the corruption level. All the forms should be available online and should be available to common man. Every office should display the photograph of the person who caught accepting bribe.

  • Comment number 8.

    It is not surprising that most commentators (yourself included?) would be sceptical of any worthwhile outcome to Mr Hazare's initiative. And it will not succeed if it is only his or a handful of Activists' initiative!

    It will not be easy to change habits of a lifetime, or attitudes so entrenched that most people FEEL nothing wrong in perpetrating these habits, or to dampen down (let alone eradicate) any vice, not just corruption. Has any society succeeded in these aims anywhere in the world? Are members of any philosophical school or religious sect totally free of vices? The problem is neither confined to the people of India, nor the country of India!

    Still the objectives are definitely worth pursuing. Every civilised society has (or ought to have) these objectives at the centre of their principles of life. If one were to give up on anything because it is difficult, or that there is an extremely high risk of failure, nothing good ever will happen in the world.

    A good start would be an environment that rewards good behaviour, not just punishes the bad.

    I believe, you have answered your question Mr Biswas - let us all VIGILANTLY 'watch this space' and DO OUR BIT to make it a success. This is an incredible human experimentation, and we all have a duty to take part in it, for the sake of humanity. If each of us will stand up and be counted - it will be a success, however partial and incomplete.

  • Comment number 9.

    @ BrainDamaged
    Hazare ended strike after government issued a notification (he only declared that he will end it tomorrow after getting the notification). Anna Hazare's hunger strike did bring in 'right to information act' in 2005.

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    Just google "india corruption activist killed -anna" and see how many people get killed for voicing against corruption in India. I got about 7,910,000 results. Of-course many of them are duplicate and irrelevant. But there is lot of true source of people getting killing for rising against corruption in India. Here is a good one,

    Note: use -anna to get rid of recent news about Anna Hazare.

  • Comment number 12.

    Dear SC (#11),
    Yes, it is a real challenge to raise voice against corruption in India. The price for honesty and doing the right thing is very high and rising fast. In reality, it is almost impossible to raise a voice against any institutional corruption (be it government or corporate) if you are not associated with some political party or NGO backed by powerful people. But then your ability to act against corruption is severely restricted. That gives birth to more corruption. Many (if not majority) of NGOs in India are fraud and indulge in many corrupt activities using their NGO status as a shield. On the other hand, many NGOs are operated by some big (and mostly corrupt) business/industry lobby or powerful people as a decoy.

    The best way is either to have blessings from at least one Godfather or Godmother (any local leader or well-known person) and restrict your efforts within issues that do not bother that specific person or lobby (e.g planting trees, basic literacy among people etc).
    In case you think that you can not be so selective in your efforts, then first try to insulate yourself. You can either do that by becoming free from any restrictions of the concerned authority/person and then raise your voice. It will be better to accept the reality that Indian system does NOT protect whistle-blowers. There is not much point to become another Satyen Dubey. It is always better to live and do something for a cause, than to die for it. I wish I am wrong here!

    Few find it useful to live abroad (where they are no more accountable to non-functional Indian system, politicians and industries) and then try their best to raise concern among common people, portray the actual picture of India among international community and work for India. It has huge impact to accelerate reform in India. Although this method has its own limitations, but works reasonably well for people from less-fortunate background, who are far more vulnerable.

    Few others, with better, more powerful background may find it more useful to go back to India and do their part there. But that is a very rare occasion. It is not so common that a person from a powerful family background will have a decent sense of justice, honesty and courage to oppose corruption in the first place.

    Few like Binayak Sen, from less fortunate family background, will always go back to India to do something meaningful and get more tangled in the same corruption they were trying to eradicate. The price (with one's own life and family) is often too high for many to take that path.
    Now it is upto the individual, depending on how good s/he is in negotiating with Indian politics, bureaucracy and other state and non-state machinery, to select his/her own way to contribute towards a less corrupt and more prosperous India .

  • Comment number 13.

    NGO operation in India is a good source of corruption. There are about 3.3 million registered NGOs in India, as of 2009; i.e. one NGO per 400 people (the highest in the world). The government has been the biggest donor — Rs18,000 crore was set aside for the social sector in the XI Plan — followed by foreign contributors (according to the latest figures available, around Rs 9,700 crore was raised in 2007-08). Around Rs 1,600-2,000 crore was donated to established religious bodies such as the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams. Moreover, all these are official numbers, the actual number is believed to be much higher (1). Just like any other industry, both the number and money associate with it is also growing fast.
    At the same time, it is said, "We fund only around 250 NGOs in India. Finding professional, above board organisations that will follow transparent ways of functioning is a challenge (here),” says Nisha Agarwal, CEO, Oxfam India , a US-based organisation that mainly raises and donates funds to grassroots agencies. Oxfam’s funding budget for 2009 was Rs 90 crore.
    With such a huge money at stake and least transparency, as expected, the NGOs also do not have much credibility in India.
    It is a very unfortunate that many fraud NGOs are also getting associated with this so-called "corruption eradication" programs (very fashionable, indeed, to attract money), just like many known corrupt politicians supporting Anna Hazare! That number will also increase after this Anna Hazare episode and its high voltage media coverage.

  • Comment number 14.

    India does need an office of Ombudsman and our politicians and Govt secretaries do not want them and unaccountable power and money in swiss banks.Especially the Unaccountable Politicians who have unaccountable power.The institutions of CVC,CEC,Lok
    Ayukta have not been able to prosecute the powerful corrupt elected politicians and government secretaries and government officers like Raja,Kalmadi ,and chandolia,baijal and all the CWG members Adarsh bureaucrats etc.Only the Supreme Court has ordered action against these people and C J Thomas,Raja and Hasan Ali and otherwise the CBI,CVC etc would never have prosecuted anyone when Corruption,Black Money,Land Deals of Dinakaran etc .

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

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  • Comment number 18.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 19.

    There is an unbelievable variations by which corruption is enacted.
    Right from the time a Pregnant women registers in a hospital for delivery-if she is lucky to get in
    time.The baby borne begins a saga of corruption which follows it throughout life.Registration of birth onwards.
    There has been an erruption in this malady when the day economy was opened for all.
    Accountability and fear of detection do not deter anyone from indulging corrupt practices.
    Unfortunately the rot starts from top.
    A dedicated and serious movement-something like Mr.Hazare's- can make changes IF it can withstand the bureaucratic,political and underworld pressure and invoke the massive strength of the ordinary citizens to ensure success.
    India needs a corruption-free government if It has to extend any hope to the millions who are
    deprived,dispossessed and in abject poverty.Hunger need to be met head on.
    The "Inclusive"development touted by the Prime Minister and Finance Minister do not have any
    meaning to the millions who survive a wretched day to enter in to another worse situation

  • Comment number 20.

    Economic crisis in the world in last few years brought 1 good change., that almost all countries pressurised the tax havens to disclose the name of a/c holders in swiss banks..
    Even U.S. Also pressurised those countries(germany, scotland,switzerland etc.)..
    So these countries agreed to share the info regarding the a/c holders. So as a result most countries have recovered or are in process of recovering their black money back..
    As due to change in the banking policies, Tax haven countries urged INDIA to submit an affadavit to get the info of tax evaders..
    Surprisingly government of India took 2 years to submit that affadavit, which could had been submitted within 2 weeks..
    But still those countries started the legal process to share the info.. During the verification process, it was found that the submitted affadavit was bogus..

    Is this the seriousness of indian government? These corrupt politicians are bringing the nation to shame... It's so hard to even imagine that the government of a country can submit a "bogus affadavit".. But india has done that.. (salute to the dedication of politicians for corruption)...

    :Who doesn't know Hasan ali (world's biggest tax evador, tax evasion worth $ 10 billion..). He was brought in to limelight by indian media almost 5 years ago,, but E.D. is filing a chargesheet against him now...
    Even after taking 5 years, the charges and case is so weak that he is getting the bail easily..
    Is this the way government will fight corruption..

    : Vigilance commission is the main body who is supposed to fight corruption..
    But when a person who is having the corruption charges is appointed as chief of central vigilance commission of india then how we can trust government..

    :Everybody says that why india is growing at 8-9% even after so much corruption??
    But answer is within the question... India is growing at 8-9% because of so much corruption...
    I'm saying so because according to me india is growing at 9% because The business tycoons are growing at 15%...
    But what about the poor man.. He may be growing at 5%.. He is not the accelerating factor, he is the retarding factor for growth... Accelerating factors are the business tycoons..(U.P. From where no such tycoon comes, is having the GDP growth rate of just 1.5%)

    Is this the way to achieve the dream of Inclusive growth..

    :Reason why i'm mentioning these tycoons in this post is that i want to make a point that from where these tycoons are making money?
    For sure from the government policies and their political links!!

    : I'm mentioning just one case:

    A leading telecom company owner of our country had a 40% share in Swann telecom.. Swann telecom purchased the 2G license for 1600 crore rs (1600 cr means 100% share, so 40% of it means 640 cr) after purchasing the license, within 1 week , that tycoon sold his 40% for 2000 crores..(so it means the market value of that license was 5000 cr. Which was sold for just 1600 cr)..
    This is the way how these tycoons make money..

    According to me if a honest investigation is done,, two very well known business tycoons can be easily chargesheeted in 2G scam ..
    But i know they will be not., this case will end up as framing the C.E.O.'s of both companies.. And both tycoons be allowed to go respectfully..
    Is this the way to fight corruption??
    No, surely not...
    It's not a fight,, it'a game...

    (For verification of the data regarding 2G scam and the names of those tycoons,, anybody can have a google search., i can't mention those names here due to the house rules)

  • Comment number 21.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 22.

    What to do about these opportunistic politicians..
    Even when mr Anna hazare is giving away his everything in the fight against corruption, these politicians are looking to fetch some votes..

    Lok Janshakti Party Chief RamVilas Paswan on Tuesday said that a dalit should have been a member in the drafting committee to draft the Lokpal Bill...

    i guess in the next world cup, he will demand dalit quota in indian cricket team also..

  • Comment number 23.

    No more serious than is the US (for that one, refer back to 1980 "Abscam"; a Congressman who escaped indictment then despite of being videotaped by FBI asking for a LARGER BRIBE than $50,000 managed to leave the House only 2010/02/08--and in a casket)!

  • Comment number 24.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 25.

    Are people in India serious about fighting corruption? The answer is yes!
    Are our leaders and politicians serious about fighting corruption? I am sure everyone including our PM knows the answer.
    Do people know how to fight corruption?
    No,but a brave individual is trying to show the way.
    What are the main threats to his movement? Trivialization by publicity hungry celebrities,religious leaders,award winning ex-law enforcement officials who are greedy enough to appear in detergent ads, and similar hypocrites.
    Quite possibly some of these "Trojan horses" could be planted by our crafty politicians.I hope Anna Hazare is clever enough to dodge these diversions.

  • Comment number 26.

    My previous comment was deleted by the esteemed moderators at the BBC. Why? Because I insinuated that all Indians were corrupt?

    Let me clarify: As someone born in India and having lived there for 22 years, I may just have a bit more authority than the BBC on this topic. Indian society has lived with corruption that is endemic for generations. It is accepted at every level from the lowest of low clerk in a regional office to the high level corruption that makes international headlines.

    The situation is so bad that in most government offices, clerks will not do what they are employed to do unless they are bribed. My Mum passed away 2 years ago and we still have not been able to get the money she had invested in National Savings Bonds in the Post Office, because we refuse to bribe the clerk, his boss and the regional Post Office Manager to get what is legally our money anyway!

    If you want a passport for the first time, you need a police check. the police turn up and demand a bribe to give a positive report. if you do not pay you do not get your passport. What do you do? (For those of you saying complain to their senior, please go to India and try doing that!)

    Anyone who gives or accepts bribes, by definition is corrupt. The system in India is such that to get your work done, you HAVE to pay bribes or you can wait for ever (like we will probably have to) to get your legitimate work done. Hence one half of society is forced to be corrupt (by having to pay bribes) by the other half that demands these bribes.

    Hence, dear moderators, hope you can see the reasoning behind my assertion. It was not to offend my countrymen, but a statement of fact.

    Hope you will have the courage to publish this post, which is a better depiction of Indian reality than what Mr Biswas has written.

    Unless this endemic corruption is sorted the high level one will never go away. There are plenty of laws in India but these are never acted upon. Yet another one will be neither here nor there and people like Mr Hazare will have wasted their time.

    Jai Hind!

  • Comment number 27.

    Still could not figure out what breaks the "house rules"! Edited my comments and re-posting.

    Just check the current state of consumer courts all over India. When it was set up in 1986, there was huge sigh of relief and people thought that it will deliver justice fast and end the cheating of consumers to a great extent. But now, after 24 years, the consumer courts are as useful and corrupt as normal civil courts. I personally witnessed the proceedings of a consumer court in relation to possession and registration of a newly purchased apartment in Kolkata. It was a real pathetic experience. The whole process is now fully influenced by local political parties, mafia, police etc; bribes are so rampant. Court verdict are basically auctioned.

    This teaches us an important lesson. I hope the fate of the "Jan Lokpal Bill" would not be the same. We must make a proper mechanism, rather than relying on a person (in this case- Anna Hazare). The whole country now runs on ad-hoc basis. Person is more important than the process or system. If the PM or CM is a better person, the country or the state seem to run better. The same is true for any Indian institution. It need to be changed. But that will take time.
    We need to remember that no law can cure or even minimize corruption and crime unless it is implemented properly. At the end of the day, a person's personal honesty and integrity comes to the picture to make any policy successful.
    Initially such bills/laws seem to make some impact. But it gradually reaches equilibrium, the founding members/leaders (who conceived the idea and fought for it) retire or die. In the mean time the corrupt lot creep in, start occupying the positions in such organizations and make it just another typical Indian organization, run by typical Indians, who hardy have any sense of honesty and justice.

  • Comment number 28.

    Its good to know that Mr. Biswas for once is a little hopeful of something going on in India. At least Anna Hazare managed to impress him. It would be good though if Mr. Biswas uses words like 'central govt' instead of 'federal'. When did we introduce that new word for central govt in India or are we adopting the political terminology of America too?

  • Comment number 29.

    For #26, "house-rules" is an overbroad reason for rejecting comments--and includes also BBC's own failure to research a topic being revealed (consistent with why they all-too-oft allow shill-posts to stay).

  • Comment number 30.

    Dear Vivek Mishra (#26).
    I think you can get some idea, some direction (to fight/oppose corruption and "right" way to do it) from the post #12.
    You urself can ask the question whether you accept or support corruption because you think it is an "eternal truth" (like- the Sun rises in the east) for common Indians and there is no point to oppose corruption (leave alone fighting it, for now); or you think it is neither the desirable nor unavoidable but do not know what to do, where to start, how to "oppose" it when you and many others are (almost) forced to accept or even take part in that process of corruption?
    Your way to do your part will largely depend on that answer, your own answer. If you have the desire to minimize corruption, YOU yourself have to find a way that suits your own individual situation. I am sure you that you find at least few ways to do that.
    The least anyone can do is to expose different instances of corruption, in neighborhood, office etc in public forums, without identifying urself (as anonymous).
    I had to find my own way, so will you or anyone else.

  • Comment number 31.

    PM Manmohan has been reduced to a spectre of his former self. He talks the talk but does not walk the walk. The reason is obvious. His own party or allies are the biggest culprits who are involved in immense corruption. An eminent politician had the nerve to announce that without corruption the government cannot function. Social activist is right to decline from fighting for PM's post as he says he cannot function effectively if made the PM. The tragedy is that the whole system rots with the malaise of corruption. This is a bane of democracy. Democracies abroad have its pitfalls much as they are mired in corruption but it can be gainsaid that this is at top level but in India it starts in an individual's infancy. Will the Jan Lokpal be effective in its objective remains to be seen. I have the least hope !

  • Comment number 32.

    In India there are many laws to tackle the various issues including corruption, but still issues persists...The reasons are either these laws are not being implemented properly or the laws itself does not address the cause of core issues...

    LOKPAL talks about punishment but does not talk to address the system so that corruption can be prevented. Punishment is like a postmortem; however the need of hour is CURE.

    Anna's movement has reflected that most of the Indian are sufferer of corruption and want to be addressed. They also have great hope from Lokpal and thinks corruption will be eradicated once its in place. People does not envisage at this stage that this may have the same challenges in implementation as of others.

    All the stakeholders, especially Anna & Lokpal team members need to sit in back office, analyze and framework the real solution for long runs… Else Fasting, candle light procession, bill etc will remain a media glory for some time, leaving the real issues for ever...

  • Comment number 33.

    No, neither the Indian government nor many of the state governments are serious about fighting corruption. Why would they be? So many of those associated with the various governments in India, politicians and bureaucrats alike, are involved in a highly profitable but low risk business of corruption. All the political parties have vested interest in corruption, and take care of each other.
    Yes, the list of statutory anti-corruption bodies, both central and state, is impressive but corruption continues to thrive in India. Alas! these oversight bodies have neither the power nor the resources to investigate and prosecute. Take the example of Lokayukta, an independent statutory body in the states that is supposed to look into corruption complaints against poiliticians and bureaucrats, prepare cases against them and hand over the material to the state authorities. In Karnataka the present Lokayukta has done a great job but none of the cases he has prepared have been brought to justice, a fact he bitterly complained about in a recent interview. He stated that the Lokayukta, is toothless because the state government has no interest in bringing the cases before the courts. Again, the Central Vigilance Commission is another important statutory agency mandated to check corruption in the government. It is independen alright but basically acts as a kind of post office by passing on complaints to the concerned departments for inquiry. Once the 'inquiry' is complete the CVC can only 'advise' the government on further action. Of course the CVCs suggestions have been routinely ignored by successive governments. All these anticorruption bodies and mechanisms are structured in such a way that all roads eventually lead back to the government which has little interest in taking any action.
    India urgently needs an independent anti-corruption agency, truly free of government control. Such an agency should be empowered to inititae investigations and proscecutions against public servants, in politics and the bureaucracy, without having to seek prior permission from the government of the day. How this can be done given the present powers to be is another matter.

  • Comment number 34.

    In Parliamentry Elections of India,, aproximately $ 2.5 billions are spent by the political parties for their campaigns. (which is even more than U.S.).
    : But in the budget, very little money is allocated to parties for campaigns..
    : all of us know that there isn't any proper fund raising (donations given to parties for campaign by corporates) program, which is supposed to be orgainised by political parties..(however in U.S., funds are collected through donations)..

    : So here is the big question..
    "from where this money comes??"

    as the source of this money is unknown,, then surely it's BLACK MONEY..
    this money is collected by the politicians through corruption..

    :so if these politicians started to fight seriously against corruption then from where they will collect money for their campaigns???

    : how we can even expect them to act seriously???

    ($ 2.5 billion is spent only on campaigns.. Election Organisation costs are separate and they are allocated by the government in the budget)..

  • Comment number 35.

    There are a number of comments posted on this site, and judging by the level of intelligence and articulation displayed, I wonder if they are not entirely from the highly educated people who are genuinely trying to help, from a middle class background. I surmise this because those that benefit from the current practices, beyond anyone can imagine, are hardly likely to want to rock the boat!

    Involvement of the middle class is essential because most change anywhere is initiated and progressed by them. But it is not likely to succeed until the people below them feel that they are entitled to and able to participate in the change process, and can TRUST the motives of the better educated and articulated middle class. I am assuming, again, that the present major beneficiaries will not support, and the mega beneficiaries (TOP political leaders, civil (sic) servants and industrial families) will do everything in their power (including of course the good old bribery and corruption) to subvert.

    In summary the comments (i) doubt the integrity of the citizens of Indians (ii) doubt the sincerity of the government of India (and the opposition parties too) to allow any effective change to the current situation (iii) question the ability (and a few even their motivation) of the "harbingers of change" (iv) question the method of bringing about the proposed change (legislation only, without any cultural/moral change of attitude?) (v) question the effectiveness of the process (whether any law will be effectively implemented, and who will implement the laws given the long track record of the Chief Protector being the Plunderer-in-Chief).

    On other websites people have also questioned the (a) the composition of the Committee (b) the transparency of its proceedings (whether in front of TV cameras or in total secrecy), etc.

    The above, and there are many more points to consider, ARE FUNDAMENTAL if any proposed change is to succeed.

    What is URGENTLY NEEDED is a debate about the Terms of Reference, Methodology, Process for developing the policies (much later the LEGAL WORDING of the new legislation), a Framework for its Implementation, a Detailed Administrative Procedure of any New Laws (including how it will COEXIST with the myriad of CURRENT LAWS and the JUDICIARY PROCESS), and so on ...

    It will be obvious that THERE IS A LOT OF PREPARATORY WORK INVOLVED. The proposals (yes proposals, and NOT Laws) ought to be presented to the People and their participation (active involvement) and Mandate (democratic approval) must be sought and obtained. This process ought to set aside time for at least one more round of discussion and presentation to the People. It should be clear that this is a VERY COMPLEX PROCESS and it needs A DETAILED PROGRAMME OF ACTIONS, LISTED DELIVERABLES (with details), NAMED PEOPLE TO DELIVER THE OUTCOME, AND A TIMETABLE FOR EACH DELIVERABLE. There needs to be a coordinating body to monitor overall progress.

    There are previous plans and ideas put forward in the past. But unless they were fully debated in the past, they must be debated now. Without discussion and public involvement those ideas too may not gain public acceptance!

    After careful thought about the above, one has to ask whether a 30 June deadline seems realistic or not! I am NOT suggesting that there should not be this deadline. What I am suggesting is that like many complex projects, it needs Check-posts, Phases/Stages, and a deadline for each stage. The people of India must not be hoodwinked by a hasty, half-baked process or proposal, rushed through an impossible time-scale (deliberately so to thwart proper discussion and decision making?).

    There is another factor, we should not overlook. Outsiders (ie people in countries other than in India) also have VERY LARGE business and political interests in India, and we must not underestimate or ignore that they may also be very active in the continuation of current practices, or otherwise, depending on which system they feel would yield best results and most influence for them. I am NOT suggesting that they are the root cause of the current situation, but can you blame them for taking advantage of any system to maximise their own interests? (We have all heard about, true or false, some foreign governments' overt and covert attempts to exercise their will over countries other their own. We have also read about alleged involvement of foreign companies in practices in India, which would clearly be illegal in their own countries.) All I am suggesting is that we ALSO need to be vigilant of their reactions, as they unfold in the future.

    Corruption would only be reduced (I do not think it can ever be eliminated, as no vice can ever be eliminated), if the people are encouraged to feel that THEY WILL NOT LOSE OUT BY BEING HONEST, and the people CAN CLEARLY SEE THAT CRIME AND CORRUPTION DO NOT PAY.

  • Comment number 36.



    May I suggest that a group of IT students (there are many world class institutes in India including IITs, NITs and others) SET UP A WEBSITE TO COLLECT IDEAS for submission on how to reduce corruption in India?

    The website must keep all contributions totally ANONYMOUS so that honest people and even people with less than a clean pair of hands (but with a tinge of moral conscience) can contribute, without any fear of backlash or ridicule, to the development of their own country, and SAFEGUARD THE LIVES OF THEIR CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN. This would also discourage any attempt to show off or score points by the contributors.

    So that there is a STRUCTURE, a METHOD, a PROCESS to COLLECT, ANALYSE and SUMMARISE these ideas for the Proposed Committee may I invite MBA students (again there are many world class institutes in India including ISB, IIMs and others), EXPERTS and INTELLECTUALS, eg LAWYERS, ACCOUNTANTS & TAX EXPERTS, POLITICAL SCIENTISTS, ECONOMISTS, MANAGEMENT CONSULTANTS, PHILOSOPHERS, HISTORIANS, ENGINEERS, DOCTORS, and others, to help develop these and FORM A VOLUNTEER COMMITTEE to analyse, summarise and present the findings to the Proposed Committee?

    Can the thoughtful people of India rise to this (or a similar) challenge, a SATYAGRAHA?

  • Comment number 37.

    Dear IndBrit (#36).
    I appreciate your ideas. Few Indians tried that IT level solutions sometime ago, in form of some forums where people can discuss different topics, including corruption. But all such forums miserably failed. Mainly because majority of those people who created and maintained the website(s) simply could not prevent the temptation to "make some money" for their efforts. That basically spoiled the whole sport. On top of that, all of those people were involved in some sort of employment or business (apart from hosting and maintaining that forum) to sustain their lives, either of their own or under some employer. There comes another potential "conflict of interest". They could not gather enough courage and/or desire to do or say anything that might hurt their personal and/or professional interests. Gradually all such forums (mainly for/by Non-Residential-Indians) became gossip platforms, mainly to discuss how make more money, how to manage visa and green card issues, Bollywood and cricket. Quality of participation is so poor that you hardly can discuss any serious issue and totally biased "moderation" killed the last remaining charm.

    It is not only impossible to sustain but also useless to write unbiased articles and analysis for most of the mainstream Indian media, as those are tied with some big corporate houses and/or political parties. And as an "outsider" it is also very tough to penetrate there "inner circle".

    It also seems to me that government of India regularly monitors and coerce any website hosted by a server within India (and people responsible for that) that is critical about government functioning. GOI, irrespective of party affiliation, also knows how to "deal" with such "rogue" elements that dare to criticize state machineries and corporate entities associated with it.

    I think, it will only be possible if someone or some organization from outside India start that effort as a charity (MUST not be as a business venture) and be transparent in its operations and financial transactions.

    Lately, few reputed international scientific journals and charity organizations are setting up its India specific operations. Those are much better to raise public opinion and concerns against specific issues, including corruption.

    You can check one such forum, Nature India (from reputed British scientific journal NATURE), which has a huge impact on Indian research establishment, so far information dissemination is concerned, although I am not sure how much it effected wide spread nepotism and corruption in Indian higher education and research sector.

    In current scenario, international media like BBC, CNN and India specific blogs like this one give a suitable platform to raise public awareness and some form of expression of opposition voices.

  • Comment number 38.

    In India, corruption is everywhere; it is from top minister to street hawker, public sector to private sector, court, media, family etc, of course with exceptions...

    However people take interest generally, targeting corrupt politicians (TRP creator)... Others do not create TRP and subsequently goes unreported and dies silently...

    In absence of scam like 2G, CWG, Adarsh… ANNA’s movement would not have gained so much popularity, though million of rupees might be being paid as bribe on daily basis by common people in their day-to-day life.

    There are many corrupt practices in non-political sector as well, which are having larger impact on common people than 2G, CWG… These areas lack TRP compare to politician.

    Targeting politician, LOKPAL might have gained popularity & media glory for short time, but not addressing the cause of corruption in daily life of common Indian, LOKPAL will have little or no impact over long run and business continues as usual for common Indian.

    BBC: How will I know that my comment is published? Can you please automate and send mail when published? Thanks.

  • Comment number 39.

    Dear Jay (#37) and all others who feel that way,

    I appreciate your response, and it would be good to hear how others think this movement could progress.

    The anti-corruption movement can only succeed if it is a movement that the Indian Public push for, and are prepared to sacrifice their all for. The crusade must be owned by them; they have to struggle for it, sacrifice for it and endure whatever it takes. During the independence movement the so called enemy was identifiable, and from outside. It was easy to drum up support. This time the resistance will be from within each one of us. Can we accept NOT to put our self-interest, before that of others? Can we forego collecting bribes by distressing others, can we resist paying bribes even if it means unjustified hardship? Laws prohibiting corruption will help, but people, not institutions, will have to implement the laws in practice!

    To reduce corruption, the people of India have to fight with their inner conscience, individually, each and every one. There may be some external targets, but no law can eradicate corruption. Corruption thrives only because people gain more benefit by paying the bribes than not paying them. BRIBES CAN ONLY BE SUSTAINED IF THERE IS UNBRIDLED GREED AND SELF-INTEREST. Corrupt practices are not imposed from outside; people choose to practice them to further their interests! Laws and Ombudsmen (or Lokpals) may reduce the blatant excesses, which may be the largest in terms of money values, but it is the endemic millions of smaller corrupt practices every minute of every hour of every day that are so firmly entrenched that they become “normal behaviour” and debilitate all resistance in the people’s psyche and destroy their human values.

    This can only change if everyone, or large numbers of people, rise up against corruption, BY FOREGOING THEIR OWN SELF-INTEREST. It is a moral crusade as much as anything else. It cannot be reduced by putting the blame on a few people. The politicians get away with blue murder because down the chain, everyone right down to the individual man or woman in a village has benefited something extra, “over and above what they know they were entitled to”. That is why they keep quiet about the corruption. It is not only that politicians give TV and money to win votes, but people bargain for more valuable items in exchange for their vote! [Of course they do not appreciate that they are really robbing themselves and allowing others to rob them as well, because it is funds intended for public good that is generally plundered. Education will help awaken these people.]

    Anti-corruption measures cannot be imposed from outside, although Leaders must provide a sense of direction, and laws must be enacted to create and foster an environment which ENCOURAGES AND REWARDS HONESTY and DISCOURAGES & DETERS CORRUPTION.

    It is almost immaterial whether websites created in the past to muster support failed or not. Nor does it matter why efforts failed in the past. Because there appears to be a different mood and ground-swell of opinion now.

    Also, every establishment in every country in the world, suppresses ideas (and allegedly some have even eliminated their leaders) if it feels threatened by the movement for change. History and current affairs are full of such instances. But there are also many heart warming events when people’s voice has eventually won. And the situation in India should be better than the worst case above because India has a democratic process, however much manipulated by the vested interests. IF THE PEOPLE REFUSE TO TAKE PART IN CORRUPT PRACTICES, OTHERS WILL NOT SUCCEED IN CORRUPTING THEM. Sadly today, the ordinary people hardly need any persuading to either take, or give, bribes!

    And there will be many obstacles put in the way of change, as the leaders of the movement have already warned the masses. This movement can only succeed if it is conducted strictly with HIGH MORAL PRINCIPLES IN COMPLETE TRANSPARENCY AND WITHOUT ANY VESTED INTERESTS. Quite a tall order in the current climate!

    I quote Mahatma Gandhi to guide us:

    " Sacrifice is the law of life. It runs through and governs every walk of life. We can do nothing or get nothing without paying a price for it.... If we would secure the salvation of the community to which we belong, we must pay for it, that is, sacrifice self....True sacrifice lies in deriving the greatest pleasure from the deed, no matter what the risk might be.", and a bit later, "No race or community has ever achieved anything without the communal spirit.... A chain is no stronger than the weakest link in it, and unless we are prepared to stand and work together shoulder to shoulder without flinching and without being daunted by temporary disappointments, failure would be the only fit reward, or, rather, punishment...." (Indian Opinion, 21 January 1904.)

    So the solution lies with the ordinary citizens of India, with every one, INDIVIDUALLY and COLLECTIVELY.

    THE CHALLENGE THEREFORE IS, “Are the people of India ready to rise to this Satyagraha?”


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