Thursday, November 18, 2010

10 ways to fight corruption

Corruption of various forms, be it IPL, 2G or land, mining scams seem to have taken a permanent headlines slot in our country today. Not a single day passes without a scam breaking out or some corruption related issue making the top headlines today.
The question that is being asked today is whether corruption has become a way of life and is there nothing that can be done to eradicate this social evil or menace. Justice N Santhosh Hegde, former judge of the Supreme Court who is presently the Lokayukta or Ombudsman of Karnataka lists out ten solutions that may help solve this problem. There cannot be an instant remedy but if these are followed properly over a period of time there could be a solution, Justice Hegde who has been probing the multi crore mining scam in Karnataka has to say.

1.Reduce governance- This is a huge problem that we face today. Let me quote an example in which a person has to buy land. There are at least 20 channels through which he needs to run before he can get his deal struck or land registered. Each one of the government officials dealing with this is aware of their importance and tend to demand bribe and the person ends up paying each one of these persons. The lesser the procedural hassles the lesser the corruption and hence a very important factor in controlling corruption is to reduce governance. It is more like the government which rules the least rules best.

2.Detection: No case of corruption can ever be fought unless detected. The mechanisms to detect corruption should be put in place in our country. A lot of cases go undetected and this helps the corrupt go about their job with ease. Criminologists should put in place a solid and effective mechanism which would help detect such cases very easily. Only if this is in place can the fight against corruption begin. This particular aspect is completely lacking and there is a need to act soon on this.

3.Disposal: The courts have a big role to play when it comes to curbing corruption. A speedy disposal mechanism ought to be in place. We notice that corruption cases drag on for years. In many cases persons facing corruption charges have even retired from services and a verdict at such a time make no difference to them. I think from the date of filing a chargesheet and the case reaching the court, the matter should be disposed off within six months time. A verdict ought to come out when the accused is in service so that it affects his service or career. If cases are going to drag on for eternity then there is no logic in even fighting such a case.

4.Change in procedural laws: The existing laws are not sufficient at all. There are way too many loop holes for an accused to get away with the existing set up. We need laws on the likes of POTA to deal with corruption.

5.The benefit of doubt: This is one factor that should be eradicated in corruption laws. When an accused faces trial, he ought not to have the benefit of doubt. Accused normally tend to get away due to benefit of doubt. If this factor is eradicated then the accused is on the back-foot and will find it very difficult to get away. I am however not suggesting that he or she should not be entitled to a fair trial. All I am saying is that he should not have a huge advantage of the benefit or doubt in the early stages itself.

6.Change in social attitude: I witness something very shocking amongst the general public at least most of them today. Many have started to think that greed is need. In fact there is a lack of social stigma today. Instead of thinking that greed is a need, I would want people to think that greed is a disease. The social attitude has to change at any cost.

7.More institutions and powers: There is clearly a lack in the number of institutions that are present in our country to fight corruption. There is a need to have more institutions and one Lokayukta for every state is just not enough. Such institutions should be set up, given more powers and should be manned by persons who have a desire to fight corruption.

8.Public participation:
The public cannot just stand and look at things happening. There is no point in sitting behind closed walls and cribbing about corruption. Come out in the open and expose people who are corrupt. No point in being scared or even offering bribes to get your work done. I think there should be more participation from the NGOs as well.

9.Moral science: There should moral science and also civic sense. I remember in school I had a moral science class and I don’t know why that is not part of the syllabus today. In addition to this civic sense should also be taught at schools. Early understanding of these things will help to a certain extent in fighting and understanding the evils of corruption.

10.Bar forever: Once convicted in a case of corruption, persons should be barred from any sort of public office of life. While there is a rule barring government officials from coming back to office once convicted, the same rule should apply to politicians as well. If there is a pending corruption case or conviction they should not be allowed to contest.

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