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Editorial Note

Dear friends,

These are the days of scams in India. Everyday the large number of so-called news
channels and print media come with screaming stories of financial irregularities, loot of public
money, diversion of funds of specific development schemes for political gains, corruption in
different quarters of public life, appointment of people with doubtful integrity on places and
position of high repute and so on. Every time, we hear of a scam, we are told that X must resign
or Y must quit or Z may be quitting. We have seen some political scapegoats, some victims of
the administrative accidents and some inquiries being setup. Now, we have been the stalemate in
the parliament continuing with war of words between the ruling and opposition benches and the
join cries for joint parliamentary committee to look into one scam that appears to be greater than
the one about which we were talking a month or two ago. We are not sure whether we will or not
see reports of another bigger scam in coming days and what kind of inquiry will the opposition
demand and what will be told to us as the reason for not listening to the opposition by the ruling
dispensation. We do not know what has happened to the large number of inquiry commission
constituted by the earlier governments which were entrusted upon the duty to bring before the
country the culprits of the scam A to Z. All we have known is that most of these commissions are
given a time and tenure bound programme which usually gets extended endlessly. We know that
huge amount of public money is again spent on the establishment and working of these
commissions which give us only the assurance to find out the real ones behind the misuse of
public money. So in some cases, as they say, reports are submitted to the ruling authority after
tiring extensions. In the meanwhile some of the key witnesses pass away, some of the officials
retire, some of the politicians change the party, some of the bureaucrats get promoted, some of
the culprits migrate to other countries and some of the evidences are reported missing. And to
put salt to the wound, the reports, thus submitted, are not presented before the parliament and are
hence not made public is the so-called public interest. Then what is the fun is having these
inquiry commissions at all. This artificial face saving of the political class must come to an end
as we all know that largely nobody has been prosecuted in any of these scams from the political
class or the bureaucracy till date. There are, of course, some cases of prosecution at lower levels
but they get relief from the upper courts and the cases ultimately prove to be untenable either
because of paucity of supportive evidence or lack of application of legal procedures at one or the
other level. In this scenario the conviction rates are very low and the acquittal rates are very high.

Then, what should be the alternative course of action for a vibrant and resilient and the
largest democracy of the world that we proudly are? But before addressing this question let me
first take you to other dimensions of the larger issue of corruption in public life in India. After
getting from two of our erstwhile prime ministers as ‘corruption is an international phenomenon’
and the ‘fifteen paisa only reaching the beneficiary at grass-root level out of one rupee sent from
the central’- theory, we as a nation have started believing that corruption is the part and parcel of
our public life. Corruption in cur day to day affairs does not disturb us at all. We do not get
irritated when we have to deal with brokers at transport officer for getting driving license or
registration of a motor-vehicle, or at income tax office, or transport office, or at municipal office,
or at hydel office, or at any other public office. We do not find anything wrong in playing bribe
to a ticket inspector in a train to get a seat in reserved coaches; we do not have any shame in
playing money at police stations, lower courts, and other such offices which deal with public, we
have developed a habit of blindly overlooking the police constables having jammed the
highways only for collecting money from the truck drivers on most of the check posts. The
routine and obscene scenes of bribe at lower levels have become an integral part of our life. We
have known that there are different commissions in centre and states as well some of whom have
earned the dubious distinction of working and functioning only by for and with commission. We
are now told people with grave charges and inquires by the state authority pending against them
have been made members of august and respectable constitutional positions like public service
commission. We know that at some places there are fixed rates of bribe for getting prime posting
in police stations, districts, department, sections, ministries, councils, committees and so on. We
have learnt that appointments in various departments at some places have fixed rate tags. We as
citizens of this great country have gradually developed the sense of pride in getting things done
by hook or crook, out of order, out of line, out of que, out of list, out of merit, out of system and
out of way. Then, how and why do we expect the greater system to be corruption free. Do we
really deserve that? Have we really worked for that?

All this should not suggest that because we have been witnessing corruption in our daily
life and because we have been tolerating corruption at small level, therefore, we do not have any
right to criticize people involved in bigger cases of corruption or we do not at all need any
inquiry or commission to find out the truth. But the actual point I wish to make before you is that
we must admit that we have lost character. We have failed our system; we are marching towards
failing our democracy; and we have failed as people with integrity and commitment to the
nation. We have not been able to create an overall environment of relinquishing the personal
benefits and gains for the greater achievements of the country. We have, unfortunately, forgotten
the real mantra of national success and growth given to us by our forefathers through the texts of
universal relevance in the form of preachings which appear to have come out of their vast
empirical and great knowledge of human psychology. This is where the alternative solution to
this alarming situation and grave problem lies. We must re-visit our cultural tradition and re-
locate ethnical values of eternal utility for human kind so as to re-build our national character
because character is of the foremost importance in human life as the ancient Indian sage

o`Rra ;Rusu laj{ksn~ foRresfr p ;kfr pA

v{kh.kks foRrr% {kh.kks o`RrLrLrq grks gr%AA

4th December, 2010 (Sanjeev Kumar Sharma)