Who is responsible for Corruption in India?

This evening (28th Sep 2012), I attended a Panel Discussion at IIT Madras on this subject.  Am sharing some of the views expressed by the Panelists and my own perspective as well.

This was organized by Dialogue Foundation, a creation of 2 ladies Priya and Sunaina.  The members of the Panel were

Subramanian Swamy, 

MR Venkatesh (Chartered Accountant), 

Vittal (Former CVC), 

Krishnamurthy (Former CEC), 

Americai Narayanan (Entrepreneur and politician)  and

Varun of MAD (Make A Difference).  

The program was moderated by a former IAS Officer Belliapa 

Krishnamoorthy

He talked for the Need for Electoral Reforms such as  Abolish the ceiling on election spending because it is more flouted than complied

Varun

His NGO MAD was asked by a Government official for a bribe to grant FCRA Status and that was his personal experience of corruption. He said “Corruption is a state of mind” and exhorted each person in the audience to resist giving or taking bribe.

Vittal

He talked of 5 players Neta (Politician), Babu (Bureaucrat), Lala (Businessman), Jhola (didnt really get by what he meant by this term) and dada (criminal) who are responsible for corruption.  He also felt that anyone who has charges framed against him/her should not be allowed to contest the elections until they are cleared.

Subramanian Swamy

He talked about the absence of values in the system as the main reason for Corruption & also opined that corruption will be minimal if the middle class were active

Americai Narayanan

He made a passionate speech asking people to stop being in an urgent mode that gives the space for corruption. he quoted a tamil film song and asserted that corruption can be minimized only when the change happens within ourselves.

MR Venkatesh

He said that the biggest impediment to a corruption-free India was the absence of Fundamental Duties as enshrined in the Constitution.  What was also missing was strict enforcement of the existing laws.

The Moderator shared his own thoughts and threw the floor for the audience.  Here were some of the questions and the responses

Q 1: What can I as an individual and part of the middle class do to prevent corruption?

SS: You can do a lot by creating a vocal community in your own locality.  Encourage educated people to take to politics, vote in the election and cast your vote to the person whom you think is the best rather than the person you think is most likely to win and hold your elected representative accountable for his/her performance and fulfilling the poll promises

Q2: What financial reforms do you think will keep corruption in check?

SS: Abolish Income Tax (and that threw the entire audience into a tizzy and for the first time there was some life in the session)

MRV: Tighten the money laundering act

My own thoughts:

a.  For a very current and sensitive topic like this, one hour is hardly enough.  Having spent so much time, money and efforts, the organizers would have done well to have a 2-3 hour session.

b.  Having 6 speakers (as a corollary to a) although most were very eminent personalities, was a cruel joke.  It would have been better if there were just 3 speakers with one politician, bureaucrat and economist.  That would have also given some room for a rebuttal.

c.  More time for questions and answers.  There was absolutely no merit in giving 15 minutes for Q & A.  Let us remember that questions get the best (and sometimes the worst too) out of the panelists and that is the enlivening part of the proceedings.

I hope that the organizers of Dialogue foundation will treat this feedback as useful for their subsequent events!!

 

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