The Student Discussion
The group discussion took place on the afternoon of the 4th of September and was presided over by Dr. Raka Arya. The discussion was initiated by our President, Ayush Sharma who began by saying that corruption in India has come to a forefront in the light of the Commonwealth Games scandal which makes it an international affair. He mentioned that in the United Nations Convention on Corruption, which India has signed but not ratified yet, there are many provisions which are not in conformity with our legal system. Thus, we find it hard to create a nexus between the two. For instance, the definition of public servant in the convention is much wider than how we use it. Also, there is no action against a corrupt civil servant after his retirement. He further said that we have been unable to internalize many such concepts which have been laid down in the UN convention.
Our Vice-President asked if anybody could point out exactly when Corruption began. The unanimous opinion was that it has existed since time immemorial and in many forms such as embezzlement, bribery, misappropriation of public funds etc. Students pointed out that there were three root causes that have led to the rampant spread of corruption - (a) Lack of Awareness - Can we do something? (b) Cynicism - Will anything change even if we try? (c) Acceptance - This is how the system works and this is the easiest way out. This led to the general conclusion that we have internalized the concept of corruption.
It was opined by the students that awareness should be specially at the grass root levels. Not only about the rights and recourses but also as to what are the benefits of raising their voice. Further, it was stressed that there needs to be an increase in the empowerment of people. Most people turn to dishonest means for the sake of convenience. The government must ensure that people get all there services in a timely and adequate manner.
The discussion next turned towards whether Corruption was directly proportional to Development. Some students opined that with the increase in Development, the scope for Corruption increases, however, others maintained the view, that it is only the increase in development which can actually curb the menace of corruption. The example of the US was quoted which was opposed by a student quoting a report of the year 1998 stating that the level of corruption in the US when it came to arms deals was very high. A student also pointed out that Corruption affects development to and one of the biggest hindrances that India faces is the widespread corruption, that is why despite continuous economic growth, India fails to find its place in the list of developed nations.
It was further commented that economic disparity plays a pivotal role in the increase of corruption. A two-sided effort needs to be made, where the citizens are more assertive of their rights and the Government is more accountable, open and transparent. Increase in E-governance was suggested. It was pointed out that the Central Vigilance Commission is merely an advisory body and what we need today is a stringent and effective implementation of laws. This led the discussion to whether the pioneer of justice - our judiciary itself is free from corruption. The fact that Dinakaran, J. has not been suspended, merely transfered seems to be a proof of the same.
This discussion was concluded by saying that our mindsets need to be changed and more powerful measures need to be suggested in order to deal with corruption on a large scale.
Comments of Dr. Arya
Whereas she felt that the discussion was interesting, she pointed out that a number of things were missing from it. She felt that there was a need to discuss more about Ombudsman, the Right to Information Act and the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The public money is given for a particular objective and if it is not used for that purpose then that is where corruption begins.
She further stated that the fundamentals of good governance were Accountability and Transparency. There must be regular declaration of where and how the public funds are used in an annual report or a half-yearly statement. Parties affected by such use have the right to be constantly informed of how these funds are being used. Vested interests for misuse of these funds may range from getting money, status or position. First and foremost we need to identify such an objective.
She differentiated between need and greed. Corruption arises from the need to accumulate wealth. As far as the CWG situation is concerned, she said it was not possible that the head of the ruling party is not aware. They must be held accountable.
There is a need to examine the laws related to corruption, whether they are strong, effective and viable enough. This, she said, would be done in the next group discussion.