India can’t push corruption dirt under carpet any longer


    In Context

    • The impact of corruption is especially heavy on common citizens and even more on poorer and vulnerable persons in communities.


    • Corruption refers to misusing public power for personal gain. It can be done by an elected politician, civil servant, journalist, administrator of a school, or anyone in authority. 
      • Apart from public corruption, we also have private corruption between individuals and businesses. 
      • Thus, the corruption definition applies to different forms.

    Corruption in India

    • Corruption in India is not limited to collusive high-level scams. Petty corruption, which affects the delivery of basic services and rights to people, is rampant.
    • Global surveys/indices: 
      • India has the highest rate of bribery and use of personal links to access public services such as healthcare and education in Asia, according to a survey released by global civil society Transparency International.
      • India is in the 85th position among 180 countries in the Corruption Perception Index, 2021.
    • Causes & issues:
      • Personal gains & self-preservation:
        • The corrupt want to accumulate power and wealth, which they believe will perpetuate their lineage in the world.
        • Those who submit to corruption do it because in it they see the means of meeting self-preservation and existential needs
      • Low rate of conviction:
        • The progress of investigations and rate of conviction in high-profile cases initiated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) do not inspire much confidence in the public to believe that there has been any substantive change in this situation.
      • Corruption during elections:
        • Economists and political pundits believe that it will not be possible to eradicate corruption till a solution can be found for funding of elections.
        • Legitimising political donations was a minuscule beginning. The much-maligned Electoral Bonds (EBs) was a step in the right direction. 
          • Though far from foolproof, it is certainly a cleaner method of mobilising funds rather than black money transferred through hawalas. 
      • Criminality of outcomes:
        • Public money is siphoned off and welfare schemes do not reach the beneficiaries. 
        • It borders on criminality when poor people are forced to shell out money for jobs, education, and even primary healthcare
        • Allocation of national resources to cronies for a price creates economic disparities, destroys level playing fields, discourages free markets and competition, and deters foreign investors
        • Ultimately, it is the citizens who must fund write-offs of public sector bank loans or pay higher taxes. 
      • Changing nature of Corruption: 
        • Since liberalisation in India, the nature of corruption has become more complex. 
        • With technological development, there are opportunities to prevent corruption but also areas where corruption can be much more difficult to trace, particularly in fields like cryptocurrency.


    • Transparency & reforms:
      • Liberalisation, simplification of laws and digitisation to promote transparency, ease of living and ease of doing business are surely part of the solution towards which the present government has taken some rapid and decisive strides. 
      • However, the crying need is for police and judicial reforms, and independence of investigative agencies with clear accountability in order to ensure speedy justice and conviction.
    • Accountability:
      • Politics is the root cause of most corrupt practices. That is where people must seek accountability of our politicians. For that, one needs the next level of electoral reforms
    • Need for innovative anti-corruption solutions: 
      • There is a need for real-time information sharing between law enforcement agencies. 

    Government initiatives:

    • Indian government has constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money.
    • It has enacted a comprehensive and more stringent new law – the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015
    • There’s also a Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016, which empowers the authorities to attach and confiscate Benami properties. 
    • Law enforcement agencies such as CBI have done a great deal to reduce corruption.
    • Prevention of Corruption Act:
      • The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted to combat corruption in government agencies and public sector businesses in India.
      • Amendment to the Act:
        • As the Prevention of Corruption Act saw limited success in preventing corruption in Government departments and prosecuting and punishing public servants involved in corrupt practices, an amendment was enacted (Amendment Act) and brought into force in 2018. 
        • The Amendment Act attempted to bring the Prevention of Corruption Act in line with United Nations Convention against Corruption 2005, which was ratified by India in 2011.
    • Right To Information Act, 2005 
      • The intent behind the enactment of the Act is to promote transparency and accountability in the working of Public Authorities. 
    • Whistle Blowers Protection Act, 2014
      • The Act seeks to protect whistleblowers, i.e. persons making a public interest disclosure related to an act of corruption, misuse of power, or criminal offence by a public servant.
      • It is provided by the Right To Information Act, of 2005, and it has been an important weapon for whistleblowers in previous years.
      • The RTI Act, 2005 is also called a ‘twin sister’ of whistleblowing.
    • The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013:
      • The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013 provided for the establishment of Lokpal for the Union and Lokayukta for States.
      • The Lokayukta is an anti-corruption authority constituted at the state level.
      • It investigates allegations of corruption and maladministration against public servants and is tasked with the speedy redressal of public grievances.
    • The Lokpal and Lokayuktas (Amendment) Bill, 2016:
      • The Bill amends the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 in relation to the declaration of assets and liabilities by public servants. 
      • It requires a public servant to declare his assets and liabilities, and that of his spouse and dependent children.

    Way ahead

    • Corruption encourages dysfunctionality in government, perpetrates economic inefficiency and can be a serious threat to national security.
    • The problem is complex and there cannot be a “one size fits all” solution. There must be different strokes for different people as it were. 


    Daily Mains Question

    [Q] Examine the need for sector-specific reforms to comprehensively deal with corruption in India. What are the initiatives in place to deal with corruption during elections?