the-south-asian.com January 2003
JANUARY 2003 Contents
Page 2 of 2
CORRUPTION - WHOSE MONEY IS IT ANYWAY?
- WHOSE MONEY IS IT ANYWAY?
Isidore Domnick Mendis
Says Anil Sood of Chetna, an NGO that has taken up cudgels against corruption and has filed numerous Public Interest Litigations against many government departments, " The Transparency International report has just scraped the surface. In a country where lawbreakers become lawmakers one can expect even worst. Not just our politicians, almost 80 percent of the bureaucracy is either comatose or busy making money."
Sood who is employed with a public limited company as a senior manager, enumerates some of Chetna’s achievements in its fight against corruption.
" We exposed a Rs. 330-crore scandal where autorickshaws and taxis in Delhi were fleecing commuters by tampering meters. But no one was bothered till the High Court intervened. Only then did the transport authorities, traffic police and Controller of Weights & Measures wake up and made electronic metres compulsory."
According to Sood the biggest problem that hampers the fight against corruption is the non-cooperative attitude of the people. " No one wants to stand up and say no to corruption. Everyone is happy to pay the price of convenience. This compounded with the complete lack of administrative and political will has helped corruption thrive.
Another NGO, Parivartan has been fighting cases on behalf of people against the income tax department. " The idea was to help people get their income tax refund without paying bribes. It was a real tough job. Today our efforts have borne fruit and the process has become simple and transparent," says Manish Sisodia of Parivartan
The NGO also took up cases against the Delhi Vidyut Board [earlier the Delhi Electricity Supply Undertaking]. Says Sisodia, " We began camping outside offices of DVB and asked people not to pay bribes. We received death threats from touts and staff members and we were shooed away. But the public response had to be seen to be believed. Finally the DVB chairman set up a system to get public grievances resolved."
Today Parivartan is looking into other public dealing departments." We are motivating people to fight against the corrupt system," says Sisodia, a journalist by profession who says his organisation does a follow up after exposing cases. " We do not take up corruption cases for thrills. Most of the time we choose our work area on the basis of our knowledge and experience"
However, says Sisodia, "If someone comes and tells us that a particular person is demanding bribe we follow it up. Unfortunately our system does not have any law to enforce accountability so even if we get people apprehended, chances are no action will be taken against them. It tantamounts to encouraging corruption. We need more like-minded people to fight this scourge. "
Dr. Kiran Bedi
Kiran Bedi, India's first woman police officer is one of them. She's been fighting corruption for years and isn't surprised by the Transparency International report. " The only solution is to elect clean politicians. Upright political leadership is the key. Integrity at the top prevents dishonesty. Even a policeman who is viewed by people as a symbol of corruption will change if we have clean leaders."
But as of now that seems a far cry and people can just dream of the day when people at the helm will rise above the loaves and fishes of office. Till that is done India will have to contend with its 72nd. position in the list of 102 most corrupt nations in the world.
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