Anna Hazare has brought corruption in to the limelight. For those who do not follow the details, Anna’s present ‘fight’ is only against those who are found guilty or corruption, from the CENTRAL government and the elected representatives. And believe me, this is not the largest source of corruption in India. The Jan Lokpal as proposed by Anna Hazare, is still some time away from seeing the light of day. Whether it would do so in the form as desired by Anna, is a highly debatable issue. There is too much opposition from the elected representatives, to make it effective.
The biggest beneficiaries of corruption in India have been the businessmen. Wherever there is political dispensation to get licenses and permits, the graft is tremendous. Some are central government level and some are state government level.
Everyone in government position extracts his ‘rent’. So much so that even public sector employees across the board are party to this. It is generally a question of ‘degree’ of corruption and never one of ‘principle’. Of course, there would be some honest people, but they are the exceptions who prove the rule.
The next logical move should be the one to introduce the “Lokayukta” in all the states. Karnataka is one strong reason why this bill will be resisted tooth and nail by every state government politician. Already, tamilnadu politicians are talking about the Lokayukta amounting to ‘interference’ in authority of the ‘elected’ representative of the hapless ‘people’. And we have state government politicians who have made so much money that they are the envy of the central government cadre.
Then we come to the so called ‘petty’ corruption which impacts our daily lives. This is a cancer that has affected India and can never be removed, Anna or no Anna. This is the bribes that are demanded by government employees for doing their work. Whether it is a ration card issuance or a passport or a driving license, corruption is the ‘speed’ money that we will continue to pay. The processes are so designed that most people will give up before they start and pay a bribe to get things ‘done’.
If we think that the Anna campaign means something for us, think again.
What is needed is changes in law that will make corruption punishable. And in India, the rich get away with anything. Power and position ensure preferential treatment. A minister is treated with kid gloves. He might have defalcated zillions of rupees. A pickpocket will be subjected to third degree. Unless a minimum punishment, of say, twenty years of Rigorous Imprisonment, combined with confiscation of all wealth of the person and his immediate family, is prescribed, corruption will flourish in India. Shed no tears. The present Indian entrepreneur is also happy with paying the bribes. He evades taxes, duties and has multiple overseas assets that he has stolen from the shareholders. He needs the system to be corrupt so that he can make progress. In a country where there is no private capital and a fetish for control, corruption is the grease that moves the wheel of progress.