Corruption is exaggerated, economist tells House

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • |
  • Updated: Dec 03, 2010 00:15 IST

Thursday began with Lok Sabha MPs dressed in their best for a group photo clicked in the Parliament House and ended with internationally acclaimed economist Jagdish Bhagwati telling them the corruption issue is exaggerated in India.

As Parliament remained stalled for the 15th day on the issue of demand for setting up a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe into the 2G scam, the government, however, rushed through approval for demands of R1,024.61 crore for the railways amid din in the Lok Sabha.

“It is easy to exaggerate corruption we have today. In India, public figures are considered to be corrupt unless they prove to you otherwise,” Bhagwati said delivering the Hiren Mukherjee Memorial annual Parliamentary lecture.

The Columbia University Professor of Economics and Law was speaking in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, his junior in Cambridge. He said the problem in India is “nobody gets punished. In America, if you are caught, even God can’t help you.”

Bhagwati briefly touched on issues like 2G scams but said the perception that everybody in public life is corrupt would be “self-defeating”.

Earlier, the supplementary demands for railways were approved without debate by a voice vote as several members of the BJP, SP, Shiv Sena and JD(U) stormed the well demanding a JPC probe. The Lok Sabha House also passed demands for excess grants for railways for 2008-09.

The Rajya Sabha returned the Supplementary Demands (General) for R45,000 crore and the relevant appropriation bills for 2010-11.

With these approvals, of the supplementary demands for railways, the Lok Sabha completed the financial business, while Rajya Sabha would do so on Friday.

Both Houses were adjourned for the day minutes after the financial business was completed amid Opposition chants of “We want JPC” with some members also waving newspaper copies of reports on alleged irregularities in the scam.

 

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