I would have no quarrel if it is said that corruption is a global phenomenon. But should we import or export corruption in the global market? Even global problems have local versions. In India, the public anger is against our kind of corruption. The vastness and multiplicity of cultures, religions, languages, ideologies etc can create confusion even in a debate on corruption, but nobody denies the existence of corruption. Unless stratified in categories, it would be difficult to grasp the meaning, magnitude and physical features of corruption. Corruption appears to be different for different people. So, let us attempt to categorize corruption.
Category AAA : Corruption by the highest ruling class, called The Executive in constitutional terms;
Category AA : Corruption in the Top Bureaucracy. This category enjoys the status and perks of a Minister of State, whether defined or not;
Category A : Organized Services at junior and middle levels of the hierarchy such as the Commissioner of Police or Income Tax Commissioner or Sales Tax Commissioner or Manager Government Seeds Corporation or Manager of the Fertilizers Corporation or the Bank Manager etc.
Category BBB :Interface with the public, like doctors, engineers, teachers, police officers, excise officers, income tax officers, telephone officers, bank officers , Tehsildars, magistrates, registrars of property etc;
Category BB : All types of Inspectors such as revenue (Patwari), police, excise, school, hotel, drugs , the cutting edge of administration,. This category has earned a reputation of its own: the inspector Raj;
Category B Custodians of government Files, who do the initial examination of issues, relate the laws and government Orders relevant to the case;
Category CCC : All support services like the constable, clerks , nurses & technicians, court clerks, employment exchange clerks, provident fund offices, insurance offices etc, who are the cutting edge of administration;
Category CC : Peons etc attached to all the above categories compulsorily;
Category C : Unofficial staff employed by the ministers on co-terminous basis i.e. serves up to the term of the minister
The common man has no idea of what happens at the AAA category, because that is much beyond his comprehension. It is only when scandals get exposed by the Comptroller General of India or the Chief Vigilance Commissioner or the parliament or the media that they become issues of general debate. The government has enough time to misrepresent the facts before the nation. It was never accepted by the government that serious acts of corruption were committed in the conduct of the Common Wealth Games(CWG) unless the CAG nailed the lie.
The incumbent minister kept on repeating that there was no loss in the grant of the spectrum licences (2G) even as the CAG report had calculated revenue loss in the range of 176000 crores. The 30 crore or so poor people really don’t understand what it is all about. They don’t know what is spectrum or licence or a sum of rupees 176000 crores! But they might be beneficiaries of some government scheme like 100 days employment under the employment guarantee scheme, selected on the basis of political affiliations. But the same person understands what corruption is because he sees with his own eyes the favours being shown to the affiliated ones and also half the wage being retained as bribe under various names like party fund. He is also privy to the culture of corruption spread by the police constable, school teacher, Patwari (revenue inspector) etc.
Category AA also escapes public scrutiny behind the veil of secrecy and almost nil inter-face with the public. They manage the Executive, and in reality act on behalf of the minister and the Prime Minister. They are very powerful and act extra-legal in bestowing favours on the public, such as the entrepreneurs seeking government permission for mobile telephony or sugar mill or steel factory or petroleum refinery or even opening a private school for children from economically weaker sections of the society. The undercurrent is that nobody does any charity unless there are hidden benefits. Once the project is analyzed, cuts are fixed and paid.
Category A really “implements” government schemes and possesses the capabilities of delivering excellent or poor services to the people, depending on the mindset. They are approached by the harassed public in good faith and return with a positive or negative view of the government.
Categories below them are considered the cutting edge of administration. They are public servants, inducted fresh in the public service and are full of ideals. Only the really strong willed survive the initial idealism, most have to give up to just save their job and ensure future career prospects. But these categories affect all sections of the society, irrespective of caste, creed, gender, region, language, economic status, social status, bureaucratic status. Only the politician gets a different treatment from them, but at the cost of the public. Those quoting the laws and procedures to the civil society must know that these unfair administrative practices have been going on for far too long and the people refuse to take the deficiency in service from public authorities meekly any more.
Consider the loss to the nation. Quality seeds are supposed to be made available to the farmers by the government corporations or licenced private firms, during the sowing season. They are not made available in time in required quantities. Poor quality seeds are palmed off to the unsuspecting farmers, causing loss of yield over millions of hectares of farm land. Who should be held accountable for this loss of food grains to the nation? Who should compensate the farmer for loss of his crop, labour , investment and income? It is the only source of livelihood of the whole family of the farmer who is already a poor & indebted? What other option he has excepting committing suicide? Still, the opponents of the civil society movement against corruption would like the public to forget all about it? Or should each one of us join the movement against corruption?
Food grains from the Food Corporation of India are deliberately exposed to rats, pigeons, rains, winds and sunight . On top of it foreign materials are mixed with good grains. Many a time supplies from the Fair Price shops are inedible for human consumption. Such firsthand experience of the public earns severe contempt for the government. The economists ruling India for the past 7 years are votaries of free market and market forces, but they are happily putting up with the public distribution system when India used to import wheat under PL-480 or some such other programme, but is now exporting many varieties of wheat, rice and other commodities. Who is deriving benefit out of these Fair Price Shops? Public or Politician? Politician and his acolyte obviously. That explains the large scale adulteration of edible oils, grains, sugar and kerosene at the fair price shops and black market of the supplies. Should the public revolt against these dirty practices or not? Let the people going hammer and tong after Anna Hazare, his team, civil society and the anti-corruption movement answer it! People are least interested whether the scandal is of 80000 crore or 80 crore rupees. All they know is that the Fair Price shop is cheating them in the most unfair manner and harming them individually and it has to end now that Anna has given the call. Fair enough. Go ahead.
Police, courts, schools, hospitals, railways, banks, irrigation, drinking water post-offices, buses, tehsils, markets-practically nothing is spared by corruption. And all this affects the common men in the worst possible manner. Day in and day out they curse democracy and say that the British times were much better than the present ones! Is it something to be proud of? Can anybody be proud of such humongous corruption? All this happening when the government employs more than one crore employees to serve the people! Universities and colleges are short of 20000 professors, armed forced are short of 16000 officers, police is short of thousands, judiciary lacks thousands of judges and other offices providing service to the people remain unmanned for years! And still Anna is opposed?
The people have to think whether they can suffer such huge lack of services or put up with such horribly deficient services. There is an elaborate infrastructure in place, only if the government allows it to deliver efficient and honest services. But the agents of corruption would never allow government services to be functional. Why else the X-ray machine in the government hospital would not work, but the one in the adjacent market does? The same machine becomes functional all of a sudden when the minister brings one of her relatives for a few films! Take any public service and the experience would be the same. The most dishonest achievement of the forces of corruption in India has been disruption of the government services only to promote private businesses—be it schools, hospitals, cooperative stores, security, telephones, housing, banks or anything else. Had the tyranny of corruption not breached all bounds of civility, the Anna movement would not have received such huge spontaneous support from all quarters of society. Those who oppose are living in their own make believe world. If they continue with their nefarious activities and oppress the common man, a day will come when the people will start taking the law into their own hands.
Well informed governments are expected to have their hand on the pulse of the people. Instead of going in circles, the government of India should withdraw the official Lokpal Bill and introduce the Jan Lokpal Bill with minimum refinements that seem unavoidable. India & Corruption can’t afford to live at the same time. One has to die. It is only the turn of corruption to die, for India has now woken up!