India Needs Integrity Index

Corruption has emerged as the worst “Governance Style Disease” afflicting every country. Monarchy, Oligarchy, Plutocracy, Communist Regimes, Dictatorships and democracy- all are uniformly afflicted by this moral condition. The difference is only that of degree. Individual immunity to fight this disease has suffered so much in the past few decades that matters have reached even the UNO, which has drawn up a convention to deal with corruption.

The Central vigilance Commission in India is the national oversight authority to deal with corruption in the Government of India offices. The state governments have their own vigilance establishment. Unfortunately corruption has neither been eradicated nor reduced in the past several decades- it has only grown to uncontrollable proportions even as the vigilance establishments have grown equally disproportionately to contain its menace.

It looks as if something new needs to be done. Since the corrupt fear not the vigilance law any more, the government should start work on creating an Integrity Index.

Public servants need be monitored for rendering honest public service in their career on a regular basis and duly rewarded for it.

Public Services include all services and all designations, as against the myopic practice of just one or two services awarded for public service on flimsy achievements.

This monopoly and dominance of a few is the sole cause of corruption in India.

We are hardly ever judicious in rewarding honest and prompt public service delivered by the honest and dedicated public servants.

When the corrupt supervise such honest and dedicated public servants, it dents their faith in the fair and honest governance. Corruption resides in all public services- scientific or non-scientific, academic or non-academic, civil or police, military or para-military, judicial or press/media, corporate or trade, political or religious and all others not identified overtly.

The honest put their neck on the chopping block set up by the corrupt singly or in collusion with others as a tormenting gang.

They can be compared with soldiers guarding the borders from external aggression. Honest and dedicated public servants guard the nation and its people from internal aggression on almost daily basis from enemies from within. They are not enemy aliens, yet they are enemies. It is difficult to guard against such aggressors because they are not easily identifiable as in an external attack where the enemy is identified and the battle field is clearly demarcated.

The honest and devoted to public service people are easily sacrificed without any trace of their valuable contribution in protecting the national and public interest, huge financial or other interests, or serving the government, nation and the people in accordance with the laws, rules, regulations , policies or programs.

The proposed Integrity Index will highlight their commitment to public service and act as a role model for others.

The National Integrity Index will expedite all Top Level appointments like the Judges of the SC/HCs, UPSC members/chairman, Secretaries to the GOI, IB/CBI/NIA Chiefs, Armed forces Chiefs, Board Level appointments in PSUs including banks, autonomous institutions and others critical organizations. The current practice of background check post finalization of selection delays appointments leading to the undesirable practice of extension of tenure for the retiring incumbent affecting the smooth functioning of the concerned organization.

Corruption in public services used to be one of the “rare of the rarest” drawbacks of top level functionaries and a grave misconduct punishable with Major Penalty.

Today, honesty & dedication has become the “rarest of the rare” qualities of such functionaries.

Some suffer from lack of integrity while others are compelled to ignore high standards of integrity in public service all the time (which is the requirement of service rules).

This decline in public service has occurred due to the Executive becoming hyper-active in exercising its powers under the law (public servants only carry out government decisions, government can mean minister or the cabinet). Public servants act under the “delegated” powers. The minister/cabinet is the real “decision” making authority under the law. It is incumbent upon the ministers to give orders in writing or where oral orders are given, to confirm them in writing as soon as possible. The bureaucracy has no means to force the minister to do so. The ministers don’t like officers insisting on such requirements.

This means the authority mandated by law to enforce high standards of integrity fails its duty and promotes breach of integrity, called corruption in common parlance. The entire system then gets compromised down the line.

A system without honest functionaries makes any government dysfunctional. So much so that talk of vigilance becomes an annual ritual only and the vigilance week becomes another source of corruption because the expenditure is met from extra-budgetary funds(like PSUs/Banks).

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