The integrity pledge
Vigilance Awareness Week is an attempt by the Central Vigilance Commission to promote integrity and probity in public life and make people understand how corruption is eating at the roots of the Indian society and how to combat it. It is quite some time now since we have been observing vigilance awareness week. And rightly so, because corruption is definitely one of the main problems of our society. All other problems arise from this source. The vigilance awareness week this year was observed during the week beginning October 30. One of the main activities during this week is the Integrity Pledge taken by the public servants, the definition of which is rather broad. The objective of this vigilance awareness week is to sensitise the public servants and the public on corruption. The one major achievement of observing this week has certainly been the realisation that corruption is an issue that has inflicted maximum damage to our polity, society and systems, and it is high time we all acted to rid the country of corruption. However, the big question is that why do we need a pledge to remind us that we shall not indulge in corrupt practices. Let us have a look at the integrity pledge first. There are several dos and don’ts that every public servant must take a pledge for. The sum and substance of the pledge boils down to one basic resolve — to do our duty honestly, diligently and fearlessly. Rather unfortunate that we need an oath to do our duties honestly. What has led to such a pass? This question needs to be addressed. If we have to pledge to commit ourselves that we will do our jobs diligently, it is more a matter of shame. Where have we gone wrong and why? As an invited speaker at several organisations during Vigilance Awareness Week, I have often raised this question. Though the answers have not been conclusive, yet they hint at one basic reason — the insecurity syndrome. Why do we want more and more? For the simple reason that we believe what we have is less. It is this belief that makes us crave for more. And there is no limit to this,simply because that insecurity is basically a state of mind rather than a measure of requirement. How to erase this from the mind? Awareness is one part of it, which the vigilance awareness week is aimed at. The other part that also is an objective of this exercise is intended deterrence that public servants are exposed to through regulations and cases. But there is a need to add another dimension and the most crucial one — to inculcate a sense of pride in the public servant by doing his job honestly. The one reason why corruption is not being eradicated is the weak social disapproval that such acts attract. When the society starts evaluating a person’s worth on his integrity rather than his material possessions, things would improve. Given the kind of compensation that the public servants get these days, there is hardly any justification for extra income or security. The attitude needs to change. My vision to achieve a corruption-free India is simple — just one resolution in the morning that I will do my work with full integrity today and a review at the end of the day as to how far I could do it. Sounds simple but it is the crux. The slogan is — “proud to be honest”.
The writer is a professor of management and public speaker. He can be reached at email@example.com
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