Tyranny of the corrupt

| | in Backbone

The retired CBI Director has made incisive analytical observations that may go a long way in cleansing the system, says Pramod Pathak

Corruption is a way of life in India and it does not raise eyebrows when a news breaks about a corrupt act of somebody in a position of power. In fact, the slogan written behind many trucks that ply across the entire length and breadth of the country sums up the situation neatly. Written in Hindi, the English equivalent of the tagline would be something like this — “75 out of 100 corrupt, yet our India is great”. Many of the more informed truck drivers have now revised the figure from 75 to 90.

The question is not how many, the question is how long. Former Karnataka cadre IPS officer and retired Director of CBI, Joginder Singh, has tried to raise the two issues in his book Corruption — A Threat to Indian Bureaucracy (Gyan), which is a compilation of his articles contributed in different magazines and newspaper as columnists from time to time. What Singh has tried to state is the obvious, yet his experience as an insider heading the top investigating agency of India gives deeper insight to the issue of the corruption.

However, his sweeping generalisation seem more like newspaper stories and Singh could have added depth and value to the book by including at least one chapter at the end of the book that could have gone as his verdict.

It is common knowledge that corruption is rampant in India and we don’t need any statistical validation to prove that. It is also an axiomatic truth that corruption is threatening the entire edifice of this world’s largest democracy. But the question that could have been raised and answered was — what needs to be done. With someone as seasoned and knowledgeable as Singh that could have been a seminal contribution. His first chapter does not fit the bill.

Nevertheless, the book gives the reader a unique insight into the various facets of corruption in Indian society and how the malaise is threatening the very idea of India. He is right in stating that corruption in Government service is no longer a news affair, but he missed that the sensational values of these stories keeps bringing such news to the centrestage, many a times in an exaggerated form by the media.

As such, the so-called rankings that rate the state of corruption of the nation must also be viewed with a pinch of salt. The fact that there is corruption in almost every field cannot be denied, but it is also true that high degree of corruption is more because of societal acceptance rather than systemic weaknesses. The author has rightly pointed out: “To date, however, few politician, bureaucrats or policeman exposed by the media on courts have been called to account”. But it is not strange that such persons continue to enjoy their social status. Further, the role of media should also be viewed critically, given the recent trends suggesting that games are played for the sake of TRPs.

The book nevertheless has some incisive analytical observations that may go a long way in cleansing the system, if considered seriously. For instance, Singh’s assertion that “the Government should go by what is right  and not what antique law says. The law is liable to be interpreted in any way. Under the law it is the responsibility of the Government to eradicate corruption. It must show its determination and will to rid the country of this evil”. The major portion of the responsibility to tackle corruption lies with the Government. And for this, there is a need to rid the system of the babu culture. The tyranny of the chhota babu and the bada babu.

Anna Hazare was right to point out the damage that corruption of lower bureaucracy is causing to the system. Even though corruption is a major issue with the electorate, the practice continues at its usual pace. Rather it is growing. Attempts made by successive Governments have not yielded the desired results and this is a matter of concern. The book has raised the right questions, but it could have given the clues to the right answers more comprehensively, given the fact that the author has been the top cop of the leading investigating agency of the country.

The sum and substance of the books lies in this one paragraph of the book: “It is not that the Government is unaware of the gravity of the problem. It is not that corruption is a secret. If anything, it is an open and a patent fact in every segment of life, whether it pertains to availing of the services, which should come free as a matter of right, or asking questions in Parliament, or purchasing votes.”

It is a fairly informative and readable compilation that narrates the tale of corruption prevailing in India and if read widely it can help in both mending ways and amending laws. So, the cop knows what is wrong, but what is right needs more rigorous research.

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