There is no denying that corruption has become a routine in India day in and day out. It is so deep rooted at many levels in our land that one can’t eradicate it without literally launching a war against it. It has grown into a giant as well over the last 50 years or so. So much so, to find a corruption free man in any government circle is a wild goose chase.
The other day, the Congress President made a fervent plea in her address to the 83rd plenary session of all the congress leaders to do something about it. She herself did not suggest any modus operandi. Corruption will not vanish away just by wishing it. We need to apply a well thought out operational plan.
We must be clear in our mind about, “What is corruption?” The list could run into thousand points but broadly speaking they are: Taking a bribe for getting a job done which in any case is a citizen’s right; for doing an undue favour; deliberately delaying the issuing of a document/work order etc, to a citizen without any reason; acting against the laid down rules and procedure in awarding contracts or executing any kind of work.
As things are now, a citizen seems to enjoy no right whatever for anything. He is all the time at the receiving end and at the mercy of a government servant. It is he who dictates the terms. A citizen doesn’t know who to approach for redress. He is a silent sufferer.
The PRO and Vigilance officers posted at the various department are inefficient and corrupt themselves. As a matter of fact, only the most unwanted officers are posted on these appointments or the ones on the verge of retirement.
Strangely there is no watch tower against political corruption at all. A politician seems to be a free bird. He simply cannot be caught ! They too need to be brought under this proposed umbrella.
Since corruption has seeped into every department and every level of the government and our daily life itself, you would need an Army of officials to tackle it. But then, we do have such an Army within the land, viz, the Income tax payers. Those IT payers who are retired from service and who still continue to pay the Tax and are over the age of sixty would be the members of our Watch dog Army.
According to the current records, only 3% of the Indian population are tax payers which amounts to 31.5 million. I couldn’t get the precise figures of those above sixty years of age. Shall we take that around 15% belong to that age group? This works out to approximately 4.5 million. A gigantic force indeed, isn’t it? They would be our soldiers and leaders as well in the Anti corruption Army.
Let the government through a Parliamentary act or Administrative order, authorise these IT payers (ITPs) to book the culprits and also suggest a suitable punishment not amounting to dismissal from service. The departmental heads are responsible to honor the reports and recommendations submitted by the ITPs and award the punishment then and there. Only in extreme cases, should the HODs disagree with the report of an ITP. In such cases, the decision of the HOD must be endorsed by his/her superior officer.
As regards the serving MPs/MLAs, any kind of malafide action such as influencing or threatening an official to taking unlawful on their part would constitute a crime including taking/ giving bribe action. On receiving reports from ITPs, action must be initiated by the Speakers and Vice President. This action will be invariably in the form of depriving them of their seat in the Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha or Legislative Assembly. And they will be debarred from standing for any future election for life time. This will be a permanent black mark on his/her character. As regards the other politicians, the party president should remove them from membership for ever.
The ITPs’ policing duty would be restricted to the government department only right up to the village level initially and later extended to the non government sector. An ITP at his/her own initiative could undertake an investigation. Or, any aggrieved citizen could approach an ITP for in investigation of any issue in any quarter. An ITP will have the liberty to walk into any government office after establishing his/her credentials or offer to probe into any misdeed or transaction or whatever.
The ITP should submit a proper report about the misdeed supported by the evidence of at least one witness along with video or voice recording where necessary to the HOD or the authority concerned. This is so to prevent an ITP from taking revenge on an employee. Toward this, every ITP may carry a portable voice recorder and a cell phone camera.
It is not necessary that the government should appoint specific IT payers as ITPs for the watchdog role. Any IT payer can convert himself/herself into an ITP when a situation demands it. All that is needed is his PAN card.
Such extraordinary power to ordinary citizens could be misused and the ITPs themselves may become corrupt over a period. In order to have a check on them, there is a need to create a “Super ITP” squad to spot check on the activities of the ITPs. If the HODs themselves feel that the report submitted by an ITP suffers from some setbacks or doesn’t appear to be genuine, the matter may be referred to the Super ITP by the HOD for necessary investigation. If the charge is proved correct, the concerned ITP should be removed from the Practice and a black mark placed on his name.
The SuperITPs would be such officials whose integrity and honesty are of the highest order and reported as such in their annual confidential report.
This is an honorary job and a Service to the society to root out corruption. An ITP will get no remuneration whatever for the service rendered by him. Government may give a suitable award or mention in dispatch for the services rendered.
Punishment must be awarded immediately on receipt of the report from an ITP. These will be administrative actions at the hand of the HOD/competent authority and there would be no need to send the culprit to the court. Nor will any appeal in a curt of law against the punishment will be permissible. Dismissal is not recommended to be a punishment in an ITP case as regards a government servant. For dismissal, the normal procedure in vogue now would apply.
The proposal made in this article may sound tyrannical and totalitarian but then it must be remembered we are trying to remove a chronic cancer in our system. Only a heat treatment or a major surgical operation will heal this disease.
Once the system stabilizes in the government and political circles, it could be extended to the civil sector in course of time.