Speaking in New York Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi said that he wanted to take advantage of the recent Supreme Court (SC) order on coal allocations as an “opportunity to move forward and clean up the past”. The SC had ruled the entire process of issuing coal licenses to be illegal. Therefore all allocations were cancelled. Successive governments headed by different parties had pursued the same policy for coal block allocations. Describing the entire process as illegal may be construed as policy motivated by corruption. Therefore to clean up the past would entail preventing corruption. To prevent future corruption systemic reform would be required. Is there any sign of it as yet?
Supporters of various political parties, specially the BJP, need to ask why Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi remains paralyzed to move against ongoing mega corruption cases with overwhelming evidence of wrong doing. The government’s inaction leads one to conclude that without taking certain initial steps corruption will not be effectively countered. A stable government not in need of votes would have the natural tendency to avoid stringent action against corruption for fear of self incriminating fallout. To avoid this there would be need of a live opposition that can prod and push the government to action. Therefore the first requirement to realistically counter corruption is to have a genuine opposition that compels government to action.
The second requirement would be for a serious and searching debate on the genesis of corruption. Such a debate would lead the political establishment to recognize the fundamental cause of political corruption. One can state with confidence that every single political party perforce indulges in corrupt practice and crony capitalism in order to function in politics. The reason for that is the present electoral system heavily dependent on black money. Every party president sanctions corruption in order to acquire party funds for electoral purposes. Human frailty ensures that many politicians while collecting funds for their respective parties keep a portion for themselves. When such greed and misdemeanor attracts public attention there is a howl for punishing the guilty. A case may be launched against the errant politician. People imagine that by doing so corruption is being fought. But such micro-management may settle political scores and cripple individual politicians. It has no bearing on the overall problem of eliminating corruption which is traceable to systemic failure.
Therefore to clean up the past and avoid corruption the government would have to appraise the entire electoral process and initiate reform that diminishes or altogether eliminates money power. It is a daunting but necessary task. Is Mr. Modi up to it?