One wonders what would happen as the Parliament resume the session this February? There is talk from the CPI about allowing the sessions to proceed while insisting on JPC probe. NDA has been still strategizing and has not made its views clear. UPA is citing the astronomical wastage of national financial resources daily as the deadlock continues. It is also evident that each party or alliance is also promoting its political agenda in the process.
So, what is the right course of action?
There is no doubt whatsoever that corruption is the number one problem facing our nation today. It is not inflation, as claimed by some of our delegates in the Davos World Economic Forum. It is not poverty. It is not even terrorism. Corruption supersedes these all by a huge margin. Furthermore, inflation and poverty are symptoms that are directly linked to and caused by the corruption. Even the spread of terrorism, sponsored by domestic and foreign sources, continues to rise due to the ineffectiveness of the government which is further exasperated by the corruption up and down the chain. The blatant example of this was apparent sale of ammunitions to the Maoist rebels by none other than our security forces put in place to stop them.
We talk mostly about the large cases of corruption that have been exposed in the public. But these are only the tip of the iceberg. The real ugly body of corruption is hidden under the surface. We know it is there. It impacts us daily in a thousand ways in a silent manner. The real loss of national productivity due to the cumulative impact of corruption up and down the systems of our government is unimaginable. The figures we sight from 2G spectrum potential loss to the nation simply pale in front of it. Corruption is the single most element that impacts every program of our government and renders it largely ineffective.
The rationale of resuming the session while addressing the corruption issue in the background, as proposed by UPA, simply does not hold water. If we resume the business as usual in the Parliament, all its actions and resulting programs in the future will continue to be negated by the corruption rampant in the very system that will be called upon to implement them. What is the use doing more of the same that we know does not work?
The rationale of stalling the Parliament until a JPC probe is agreed upon for certain cases of corruption also appears to be limited in its impact and does not offer any lasting solution to the systemic problems. Furthermore, NDA is just as much prone to the same systemic corruption as UPA or any other political party.
However, the demand to address an issue of great importance as the first item of business before resuming anything else in the Parliament has brought the corruption issue in the forefront. For that alone, the NDA and the other parties involved should be commended. We have to focus it on the right issue though. JPC probe of the current corruption events is not the most important issue in front of us. The real issue is to address the systemic problems of the rampant corruption and develop a comprehensive solution to eradicate it. Several private groups and organizations are already promoting their views on systemic solutions. Their avenues to make anything happen are limited through judicial channels only and therefore can be only marginally effective.
Demand a Systemic Solution to Corruption:
Not only the opposition parties, but the entire nation should demand that the first agenda of the upcoming Parliament session should be working on a “Proposal for a Systemic Solution to Nation’s Corruption Problems” and passing legislation to make it effective. If it requires certain constitutional amendments, so be it. Is there a bigger or more pressing issue than corruption to call for any such amendments? These amendments will only help save us as a nation and preserve our constitution. Unless the ruling party agrees to it, the opposition is fully justified to stall the sessions as usual. Let us put everything else on the back burner and address the corruption first. It is the most productive use of our Parliamentary resources at this stage. Everything else can be addressed on a lower priority basis.
To make this happen, the NDA in particular, will have to rise to the occasion and change the issue from the JPC probe to Systemic Solution to Corruption. This will demand introspection on their part as well. However, they have an opportunity to make history for themselves. This will also best serve their political objectives. Let us hope they take this challenge head on.
Ironically, there is an opportunity in this crisis for UPA as well. They can offer such a proposal for a comprehensive systemic solution to corruption and take the lead to work with the opposition parties in drafting and passing such a legislation as the first priority agenda for the upcoming Parliament sessions.
Whoever refuses to work on such an important piece of legislation would turn out to be the real loser in the next general elections. Conversely, the champion for such a cause will emerge as the clear winner. There is no bigger opportunity or threat to either party than what is presented by this crisis.
Only time will tell who has the will to rise to this challenge and make history!
Note (Feb 5, 2011): I just read the speech by President Abdul Kalam on "Corruption a Cancer in India". It is more eloquent and effective than what I have been trying to convey to all of us. Dr. Kalam is a great scientist, a patriot and a distinguished Indian citizen. I am quoting directly from what he said "If the situation is allowed to continue then we cannot prevent the people taking to the streets and there will be a catastrophic ripple effect, which the nation cannot bear at this moment when India is poised to become a developed nation." I strongly recommend that the readers should go through the following URLs: