The Mahishasur of corruption is threatening to devour India. Not that this problem did not exist before. However, never before in our history did we have such a torrent of scams and scandals tumbling out of the establishment’s cupboard — Commonwealth Games, scandal in the allotment of 2G Spectrum and the Adarsh Housing Scheme, to name a few.
At the international level, stories of corruption in India are being highlighted. The Global Financial Integrity, an anti-corruption watchdog, has estimated that R20,79,000 crore was transferred out of the country illegally between 1948 and 2008.
Corruption is not limited to the central government. It is rampant in the states also. That includes Uttar Pradesh too where only the smaller fish are caught. Corruption in UP somehow does not get publicised. This is mainly because the government has been able to browbeat the media.
The anti-corruption agencies at the state level — vigilance establishment and the anti-corruption organisation — have both been almost neutralised, and it is well nigh impossible for these agencies to even initiate, let alone take action, against any important political functionary or senior bureaucrat.
Writing in G-files, a commentator remarked that a district magistrate, within the first week of his new posting, rather than plunging headlong into administrative and developmental tasks, awaits instructions from Lucknow on priorities: How many gun licences to be issued, which contractors to be favoured, which MLA, zila parishad chief, or local politico not to be touched, which block development officer (BDO) to be asked to fall in line, which gram panchayat to receive money and added that without demur, the Mussoorie-trained civil servant, heedless of rules and legalities, completes the Lucknow-dictated quota of assignments during a short-lived tenure.
In 2007, an NGO, India Rejuvenation Initiative (IRI) prepared a list of 10 most corrupt officers of the IAS and also of the IPS and submitted that to the state government with the request that the assets of these officers be verified and that if the same are found disproportionate, investigation should be ordered and, in due course, cases registered against the officers.
It is a sad commentary on the working of the state government that no action was taken and the IRI was not even asked to indicate the basis on which the list had been prepared.
The Samajwadi Party keeps on exposing the corruption of the BSP government, but that is like the devil quoting the scriptures. UP has had the misfortune of its resources being plundered by both the leading parties of the state. Perhaps, never before in history was the Gangetic belt ravaged by its political masters in the manner it has been during the last decade. This is, however, not to say that the Congress or the BJP government were not tainted.
UP is going to polls in 2012. The parties have already started generating political heat. However, it is most unlikely that corruption would be a major issue during the polls. At least, it would not be one that would tilt the scales. Corruption has seeped into the lowest levels, and the majority of people seem to have compromised to its existence and prevalence. The civil society campaigns have had a very marginal impact in the state. It is a case of ‘chor chor mausere bhai’ as far as the political parties are concerned. The electorate is more often than not forced to choose between thieves and robbers. Where will all this lead us to? It must be appreciated that corruption, if allowed to remain unchecked, has the potential to destabilise our polity apart from devastating our economy. Stringent measures are called for.
We need to have an effective Lokpal at the centre and an effective Lokayukta at the state level. The CBI should be politically insulated. The anti-corruption institutions need to be energised and freed from the administrative shackles. Is the political leadership prepared to take action on these lines?
About the author
Former DG, BSF and ex-DGP, UP
He was director general of the world’s largest paramilitary force the BSF, and, prior to that, the DGP of Assam and UP. He was awarded Padmashri for his contribution towards national security in Punjab. He is widely respected as an expert on internal security. Naxalism is his focus area.