Corruption is denting the image of the country abroad and ‘demeaning’ the government before the people, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Friday. "This is a challenge that has to be faced frontally, boldly and quickly," he told top civil servants at a conference.
The UPA government has been under attack over a host of scams (2G spectrum, Commonwealth Games, Adarsh housing society) as well as the appointment of a scam-tainted bureaucrat as head of the top anti-corruption watchdog.
"It dents our international image and it demeans us before our own people," Singh told the conference of state chief secretaries. His remarks came days after former Union telecom minister A Raja was arrested by the CBI on the charge of tweaking procedures to benefit some private players in the 2008 2G spectrum allocation.
"The necessary revamp of administrative practices and procedures needs to be fast-tracked. A systemic response that reduces opportunities for corruption needs to be put in place," the PM, who called corruption an impediment to faster growth and social inclusion, said.
But the Opposition wasn’t impressed. BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said, "The PM, as leader of the government, has to act against corruption. His role in this regard has been most regrettable. But for the campaign by the media, the Opposition and the court, no action would have been taken against Raja, as he was defending him till the last moment."
Sitaram Yechury of the CPI-M called for a new legislation to curb corruption. "A new law will be beneficial for the next generation of people," he told reporters in Kolkata.
An opinion poll carried out in five metros by HT on Thursday showed that 41% people thought corruption was the biggest problem facing the country, followed by rising prices.
The PM too brought up high food inflation, saying it was a worry. He called the previous year a "difficult one" for India.