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Five ways to reduce corruption

“Merely shouting from the housetops that everybody is corrupt creates an atmosphere of corruption. People feel they are in a climate of corruption and they get corrupted themselves,” remarked Jawaharlal Nehru, shortly after India’s Independence and these words seem apt even today.

The following measures can be taken or, more so, should be taken to reduce corruption:

  • Education and awareness on corruption: First and foremost, education needs to be imparted among people about the issue of corruption and how it is engulfing the society. By education on corruption, it means that people should be empowered with information on issues that can lead to corruption. Education can play an integral part in reducing corruption. Corrupt officials often misinform (or hide information from) people and demand a bribe to help them through. One of the major reasons is being unaware of the laws, public rights and procedures hence such uneducated common people suffer the most out of corruption in the society. 
  • Proper compensation to government employees: Government employees should be paid in accordance of their work and conditions under which they work. For example, a traffic cop puts his life under threat every day as he/she can be targeted to an accident at any given point but the general mentality is such that he is looked at in similar lines with a regular cop or havaldar. And, the conditions under which our police forces work is not hidden to anyone. Especially in cities like Delhi where the pollution level are racing towards hazardous condition, these people need better pay to even remotely compensate for their regularly deteriorating health.
  • Transparency and accountability: Another big reason for the prevalent corruption is the lack of transparency and professional accountability in the system. We can’t regulate corruption until people individually take steps to be honest towards their profession, and if they do so, the corruption would automatically decrease. Attention needs to be given towards professional accountability as it can lead to improvement in the administration itself.
  • Legitimate autonomy and corporatisation: Legitimate autonomy should be given in public/government sector so that unnecessary interference from other sides, like politicians and bureaucrats etc, can be avoided. As PM Modi said during his speech at the recent HT Summit, that one of the best ways to bring professionalism in PSUs is to induce a corporate culture. The contract mechanism should be opened up outside the government premises with outsourcing and standards should be strictly implemented by those agencies. PSUs such as Air India, for instance, place huge contracts for various products and services. There is always a possibility of political leaders exercising their powers to swing agreement from the selected ones to get kickbacks. Thus, these intermediary powers would be removed from day-to-day functions.
  • Blacklisting the corrupt: Most importantly, anyone and everyone party to corruption should be ‘blacklisted’ across the public and private sectors. Employees caught indulging in corrupt activities or people bribing executives ought to be blacklisted for some specified period of time.

On the other hand, the definition of corruption also needs to be explained, specifically that of the not so obvious corruption in nature. Corruption has now become a part of our daily lives on minor as well as substantial ways. The not-so-obvious categories would be- inferior/less amount of material used for road contraction where one inch of tar is used as against the supposed four inches. As a result, the road disintegrates after one monsoon. There are a plethora of such subtle ways which the common public isn’t aware of even in the empowered age of RTI.

The awareness of the concept of corruption and how it prevails in the least expected place in a subtle way is more important than cognizance of the theory.

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