Anna Hazare movement duly supported by a large number of Indians including intellectuals, media, bureaucracy, judiciary as well as political parties and leaders has brought corruption as a major issue for consideration before the Indian polity as well as the Indian public. The Jan Lokpal Bill, once enacted will be put to a real hard test of the LOK PAL regarding transparent working, judicious and
practical approach and whether it is able to act as a deterrent or will it become another investigating / judicial endless process are all questions which are being considered by the Indian society. The Indian public and intellectuals and all those who matter including policy makers, bureaucrats, judiciary,
regulators, top professionals, media, social activists are all committed in their minds that corruption is bad and it is vitiating our working, value system as well as the culture and is also creating impediments to growth and more importantly inclusive growth.
How to eradicate corruption from day-to-day life and at all levels of working in the government sector, regulators, tax department, private sector as well as offices of public dealings, is a major
question. What should be the approach of the policy makers and those who are responsible for governance in this country, is being questioned in every strata of the Indian society including top businesses, professionals, intellectuals besides the Indian public. We wish to give certain suggestions for consideration and reaction. The basic cause of corruption could be greed or fear and the following suggestions may be able to address these reasons to a great extent:
- Governance Process: The policy makers and system designers need to review all procedures and processes in governance on zero base basis to make these processes and procedures simple and time bound.
- The personal contact between the officials and the public has to be reduced to the most minimum and all the requirements and procedures can be automated using information technology and be made transparent in a manner that the interaction is completely electronic and transparently on the record. The MCA 21 system of filing with ROC could be one glaring example, as to how the corruption can be eradicated by transparency and improvement in procedure.
- The Indian Tax Department, regulators, property department, Municipal Corporation, and other government departments can be mandated to urgently redesign their systems and procedures and rules & regulations in such a manner that the public contact is completely eradicated from the system.
- The initiative to centralize electronic filing of income tax return, selection of cases for scrutiny, centralized processing of refund undertaken by the tax department is worth appreciating. These models can be extended to the scrutiny process as well as appeals and personal hearing may be made only exceptional. The personal hearing, if it becomes very necessary, in a particular case, can be arranged by video conferencing with the concerned officials from a distant location or may be made a public hearing with audio/video recording.
- Time: The decision making as well as compliance of various procedures at the end of government officials may be time bound and officials should be made responsible for their decisions. The possibility of a wrong decision can still be exonerated but if the decision is done unprofessionally or with ulterior motive, the same should result in action against the concerned official.
- The charter of rights and responsibilities as well as the procedures can be transparently made available to all stake holders.
- A quick judicial redressal mechanism of difficulties or harassment being experienced by the public can be mandated.
- The politicians as well as bureaucracy of the country should be incentivised monetarily on the basis of good performance, achievement of targets, transparent working and a corruption free professional working in their domain areas.
- A silent and secret surveillance mechanism needs to work and bring exceptions to the knowledge of senior officials, judicial process and public servants.
- The working of government departments, municipalities, panchayats and various other public dealing departments can be supervised by duly elected local groups for which a detailed structure can be designed to delegate necessary authorities and responsibilities.
The aforesaid thoughts are only a broad framework of thinking and will require a lot of fine tuning and your suggestions in this regard may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org addressed to Mr. Avineesh Matta, our Past President who is heading a working group of the Society against corruption.