about corruption in India usually take a cosmetic approach. The
three draft Bills by the Government, Anna Hazare and Aruna Roy
represent various hues of that cosmetics.
in India is a little deeper than it seems to an academic or
someone who faces it or anyone who cares to be curious.
endemic will not help. For if its endemic, in other does not need
external help to subsist and grow, there are deeper reasons that
defy mere legislation to stem it.
Corruption is a
value system where when I benefit its desirable, when I am the
victim, its not.
We want a
corrupt son-in-law and do not question the source of his income.
We want our daughters to be well looked after by their husbands.
We want our
husbands to give us what the neighbour’s wife has and our wives to
look better than the neighbour’s without having the means to do
That is in the
part of our society that depends greatly on permanent government
jobs where once in, you are seldom out and earn what you do for
doing whatever you may do.
part of society that has become a member of the “second
independence” that came about in 1990s, the new economy that has
given India its new image, is less charmed by the corruption that
is rooted so deeply in our system.
The new economy
professional has left the corruption to the market forces that are
evolving at their own pace with little ethical safeguards. The
lawyers fleece their clients without giving justice, this doctors
find ways to make money that will be questionable anywhere else,
the traders find ways to do things that will put them in trouble
anywhere else and virtually anyone who seems successful may be
part of it, sometimes even without being aware of it.
The conflict the
three versions have stems from where the three parties stand on
this issue. The government does not want the politicians and
bureaucrats to be harassed by the “civil’ society. Its interested
in keeping a watch on the civil society instead. Arun Roy would
like to find a middle ground while Anna Hazare would like to raise
the risk of engaging in corrupt practices.
What none of
them is addressing is when corruption is endemic, it does not get
cured by legislation alone.
creating new values that society can come to agree to, a new
framework of dealing with various stakeholders, a new deal, a new
contract, a new way of creating value and distribution of wealth,
a new set of rules that govern it.
What all the
three draft suggestions or Bills do is leave the key issues
unaddressed. They are looking at a cancer as a wound with various
degrees of severity. For the government it's a mere itch. For Anna
Hazare it may require a bit of surgery. But the disease itself is
far deeper and widespread. Just that it is curable, should we
choose to pay attention to it. Alternately, its something that
will keep us under-performing, keep us a little less healthy,
sometime there may be eruptions that are far from pleasant. But on
the whole we have learnt to live with it.
without joining Anna’s movement we cannot change it. Not all of
Anna’s comrades are as clean as they are portrayed to be. They are
part of the same social structure. Even to expect that will be
naïve at best.
So where do we
begin? Well, please do join Anna Hazare’s movement and raise the
voices that may help it become more realistic and effective. The
fears of the Government on Hazare’s draft Bill are far from
unreal. Given the value system we grow up with, most of those
fears are very real and imminent.
On the other
hand, the Government has nearly all the mechanisms it can imagine
well in place to little results. Every ministry has a chief
vigilance officer under whose surveillance corruption prospers.
The CVO of each organization is either an IAS or IPS or another
central service organization who knows the branches of corruption
What we need are
the folks who begin to understand the rots of corruption. Right
now they are groping around the spot of referred pain that the
society feels. It needs to go a little deeper to find the roots
before it can expect to get a meaningful response to the cure it
While we are on
that path, I would urge that the nation must begin to see things
in a 20 year perspective. It takes us at least 20 years to groom
an adult. Unless we have gone through a complete lifecycle of
creating a new value system, there is little we can hope to gain
from the cosmetic understanding and cures we chance upon.
Satish Jha is a former
editor of Dinamaan, a newsweekly of The Times of India Group that
was shut down later along with various other magazines of the
Group. He is also a co-founder of Janasatta of the Indian Express