Impeccable Integrity

Attorney General of India G E Vahanvati

Attorney General (AG) of India, Mr. G. E. Vahanvati made a statement in Supreme Court yesterday that if “impeccable integrity” was a criteria for selecting candidates for senior level appointments in judiciary, government and politics, most of the present office bearers would be subject to scrutiny. He made this statement in respect to the appointment criteria for Chief Vigilance Commissioner (CVC). The present CVC Mr.  P. J.  Thomas is facing a charge sheet in the 1991-92 scam on the import of palm oil in Kerala when he was the civil supplies secretary. The question is how can the CVC fulfill his responsibilities when his own integrity is being questioned.

The statement is a candid admission of the corruption level in Indian government. An Indian citizen compromises his/her rights granted under the constitution because of the pervasive corruption in law enforcement agencies. Can this statement be seen as a turning point for the judiciary?

In politics, the rot exists at the root level and irrespective of the party selected, the voters see new scams being reported every week. The apathy in urban voters is high,  as they consider all politicians to be corrupt. Indian professionals do not enter politics because of the high level corruption. Do you envisage improvement in Indian political scene if corruption is curbed?

Presently we may not have the right answers, but this statement is a step in the right direction. Collectively we need to find a solution to reduce corruption. The 5 questions which this statement raises in my mind are:

  1. How should impeccable integrity be measured? How should the gray areas be treated?
  2. With the prevailing high corruption level, how many of the senior politicians and bureaucrats will pass such a scrutiny?
  3. If they do not clear the required standards, what should be done with them? Should they be appointed despite the dubious track record or be investigated and penalized for wrong doing?
  4. If most officials are corrupt where do we find people with impeccable integrity?
  5. What measures should be adopted by public to ensure that officials without integrity are not appointed at senior level positions?

This is a critical issue for success of India at a global level. What are the questions in your mind on this issue? What do you think are the solutions to the problem? Do you think Indian politicians and bureaucrats can become ethical? Share your opinion here.

6 comments on “Impeccable Integrity

  1. Pingback: Impeccable Integrity (via Sonia Jaspal’s RiskBoard) « Pilant's Business Ethics Blog

  2. Hi Sonia

    Great questions, but the time units for improvement are generations not weeks, months or years. Look up the notion of “anomie”, the social decay that leads to an everyone-for-themselves society… so prevalent in Eastern Europe (Albania, Romania, and so on) after the collapse of communism.


    PS The recent book Macrowikinomics ( argues the case for radical transparency, which is one hope. Case 7 in this special report addresses the regulation issue that you are also wrestling with.

    • Geoffrey,

      Thanks for reading the post. I would not say generations, but definitely a decade or two for resolving the corruption issue. That too, when we can get people educated on ethics and committed to it. Definitely a challenge, but then as Michaelagelo said, the problem with humans is not that they aim too high, they aim too low. If we consider it an impossible task since it will take time, we will never even start at getting it done, and continue to sit generations after generations, cribbing about how bad the society is.

      The choice is with us, humans have caused the social decay, so humans can remove it also. It depends on whether we are committed to it or not. I just read Seth Godin’s blog post, in which he has described the reasons why we work. The first is money and there are 7-8 more. He said that the rest are generally what gets us committed to our work, however we norammly give credit to money. Agree with him completely.

      Thanks for the link, will definitely look it up.


  3. Firstly, I would say, the Attorney General’s answer was irrelevant and irresponsible. Such answers may sound good in the Parliament and but not when Supreme Court sought clarification on the matter.

    • Lakshmi,

      Thanks for reading the blog. Here I have to disagree, if the Attorney General of India does not talk about integrity, and should not raise questions on it in Supreme Court, where do you think these can be raised? Parliment is not the torch bearer for moral ethics, or law and order, the judicary is. Hence, I think he did the right thing, and raised the right concerns.


  4. Pingback: Central Vigilance Commission Launches Project VIGEYE « Sonia Jaspal's RiskBoard

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