Fighting against corruption has huge significance as corruption endangers unimpeded functioning of public sector, weakens the public trust towards state institutions, and hinders democratic and stable development of the country.
The fight against corruption at the national and international levels is a topic of unabated relevance as intolerance of corruption is growing around the world.
We are convinced of the negative impact of corruption, which obstructs economic growth and development, erodes public confidence, legitimacy and transparency and hinders the making of fair and effective laws, as well as their administration, enforcement and adjudication, and therefore stress the importance of the rule of law as an essential element in addressing and preventing corruption, including through strengthening cooperation among States concerning criminal matters.
Remove the ability of officials to extort through delays and obstruction:
Does a corrupt government official have to necessarily do something wrong to make money? Nope. They can just delay and obstruct, and the affected party will be forced to show up with currency notes. In fact, they don’t even have to actually delay, it is enough to just create the apprehension.
Government also has a knack of losing money. So it should spend less! Whenever government spends, e.g., on building roads and infrastructure, welfare schemes, purchases (from uniforms to fodder to defence equipment), money gets siphoned off.
But how can government cut spending? For starters, don’t do commercial activity. Does government have to sell rice and wheat in today’s age? Are there not enough grocery stores? Many states have Civil Supplies Corporations which spend hundreds of crores every year on procuring things. Why? The answer will be always ‘poor people’. If you want to sell rice cheap to underprivileged, why not give them subsidy coupons? Let people buy from wherever they want.
As long as government continues to run buses, hotels, and everything under the sun, people will loot, politicians will make merry, and citizens will be fed slogans about poverty eradication. If Government wants, it can find smart ways of running most welfare schemes without building another layer of bureaucracy. But that suits nobody’s interest.
Make it easier to report corruption
Let us say, if you are a victim of corruption (say in RTO’s office), you have to complain to the Vigilance Department. , but how many people want to face one more government department? One more arrogant self-important official? we would hate doing that. What if there was a courteous and professional non-governmental agency to whom you could report the matter? E.g., the way TCS does the passport document verification, why can’t this also be outsourced?
Create transparency, remove arbitrariness
Why do thieves operate at night? Because nobody is watching. Corruption also happens when nobody is watching.
Use technology and shine a light on everything. For example, in every office put an electronic board outside which has all the important (non-sensitive) information about things in the office. Also, put it on a website.
For example contractors doing government work have to keep meeting officials to get their payment released. If the officials are corrupt, they can make money even for such a simple thing. If you publish a list of people whose payment is due and the norms for selecting the person whose payment is to be released next, such corruption will come down.
The Nazi Hunting strategy
After World War II, Jewish groups gave rewards to hunt Nazis. Similarly, give monetary incentive for people to find out and help prosecute corruption. Else, why would they risk earning anyone’s enmity?
If someone leads to prosecution and recovery of government funds, let 20% be given as incentive. This is not an easy thing to implement but something worth pondering.
Judiciary and law Enforcement
Prosecution under the Prevention of Corruption Act is slow and convictions are very few. Under criminal law, the evidence required to convict anyone is very high. People hesitate to come forward to complain due to fear of retaliation.
As harsh and impractical as it may sound, at least for certain departments prone to high degree of corruption, make it a contractual assignment with a 5 year term limit. Only renew the contract if the person has a stellar reputation. The burden is on the employee to show good character, and not on government to prove wrongdoing.
Strengthening independent judiciaries through higher salaries and better legal protections is an effective way to tackle corruption, holding the corrupt accountable and giving their victims justice. People’s experiences with the judiciary and law enforcement are often very different from this: many face demands for bribes to dismiss a charge, fast-track a case or slow down a trial. Judges can also be bribed, or subject to political pressure and interference from above.
Corruption in the judicial system breaks the basic principle of equality before the law and deprives people of their right to a fair trial. In a corrupt judicial system, money and influence may decide which cases are prioritised or dismissed. Perpetrators may get away unpunished while victims are left with no answer and no justice.
Simple reforms can prevent this. An independent body and public oversight can guarantee that appointments in the judiciary are based on merit rather than favouritism. Judicial personnel should be adequately trained and receive fair salaries and pensions, to make them less vulnerable to bribery. Judges’ personal liability for decisions should be limited and, to protect them from pressure by powerful interests, only credible and transparent investigations should be conducted against them.
Judicial bias must be exposed and reforms to increase courtroom honesty implemented. To ensure a fair adjudication of each and every case, judiciary has to be independent, impartial and act with integrity.
Funding of political parties and elections
Political parties need money, for which voluntary donations are often insufficient. So they systematically siphon off government contracts, money for appointments and postings, and general influence peddling.
While funding will not make them Mr. Clean overnight, at least one excuse would be gone.
All the above steps will help to an extent, but unless there is a collective disapproval for corruption, real change will not come easily. If there is one thing that unites people it is hatred for corruption. But at the same time we are swimming in corruption. How is that possible? Do we truly care? Or we care only when we are at the receiving end? The answer is pretty obvious.