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Hitting Corruption at the Source
|by Prem Verma|
Let me at the outset congratulate Sri Anna Hazare and his team for the wonderful job of awakening and canalizing in the most non-violent manner the frustration and anger of the middle class of this country against this demon of corruption. What he and his team did was to provide the most able leadership for which the people were seeking for long and Sri Anna’s selfless record and nature drew the masses like a magnet not experienced in the last thirty years. It was a phenomenon that will be long remembered.
Now that the fervour has slightly come down and Sri Annajee is recuperating for the next struggle ahead, we need to meditate and make an analysis for the next steps ahead.
Undoubtedly there is tremendous anger against corruption. The public outrage has come out on the streets to give vent to their frustration. People are fed up and are willing to follow any path that promises to root out corruption from their daily lives. If Jan Lokpal Bill is a forward step in the direction of rooting out corruption, the harassed population of this country will provide a willing platform for agitation and what any autocratic government so wrongly names ‘subversion of democracy’.
Corruption starts from the desire to have more than you have rightfully earned. We always seem to need more money to buy or acquire more things and this insatiable hunger for increasing consumption propels us to seek illicit avenues for making “black” money. Be it an average man, or a businessman or a politician or a minister – all seem to be on this enticing path to get more and more. The government clerk sitting on a file wants “speed” money to take any action, the policeman on the street has to be given money for the truck to move forward, the babu in-charge of distributing welfare funds to rightful recipients must be greased before any money will be disbursed, the sales tax and excise departments in connivance with traders and businessmen deprive the state exchequer from receiving the correct taxes, the politicians and their henchmen earn fabulous amounts from transfers and postings, the minister in league with corporate houses generate enormous black money for favours that will result in greater and greater profits to the recipient and so on.
What we have witnessed in Sri Annajee’s movement against corruption is a path that people will readily follow, especially the urban middle class, since there seems to be no other instant way for them to fight corruption. Any thing that promises fast result is acceptable as a panacea; whether it will do so is another matter. In this age of instant results, where information travels fast through internet and SMS, attractive slogans and simple solutions attract the urban youth. There is no time to get to the root of the problem, no patience with formalities and procedures, no rules of the game, no need for any dialogue – all essential elements of a vibrant democracy.
We have seen how the overriding desire for consumption drives us towards corruption. It is this desire that Corporates and businessmen exploit through their amassed wealth and we easily succumb to for pieces of gold coin. The liberalization of economy has whetted our appetite further in this direction and how can we resist?
It is this desire to build empires and collect more profits with false notion of spreading wealth to all that is depriving today’s farmers from their fertile land, tribals from their homes in rich mineral deposit areas, the rural poor from their meager sustaining income and creating a super-divide between two Indias. This is the real corruption which we are reluctant to face and call a spade a spade. Until the rural India gets its rightful place and priority in the scheme of things and in the planning corridors of Delhi, unless land becomes an inalienable right of the peasantry, the tribals, the weak and oppressed, the rural poor – no amount of remedial measures against corruption will work. If we chant Gandhi’s name in every breath, how come we forget instantly his call for the superiority and awakening of rural population and its centuries old culture and traditions. The glitter of the West has blinded us and the remedial measures proposed for battling corruption instantly blindfold us from investigating the root cause. All the opinion polls conducted ignore the village and gram sabhas which is the real India, not you and me living comfortably in urban centres of influence.
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