Yesterday on International Anti- Corruption Day, Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) in New Delhi organized a seminar on “Empowering Citizens to Combat Corruption”. Former Central Vigilance Commissioner Mr. N. Mittal launched a user-friendly portal, which enables public to file complaints of corruption. Public can expose corruption activity by uploading audio, videos and files on this portal. You can access the portal through CVC’s website cvc.nic.in
The seminar included discussions on 1) engaging public in fighting corruption; 2) obtaining commitment of corporate sector to adopt higher level of business ethics; and 3) modernize vigilance framework to ensure improved compliance.
Considering that, the present Central Vigilance Commissioner Mr. P. J. Thomas has an ongoing corruption charge public maybe skeptical regarding these initiatives. Supreme Court has questioned his appointment as CVC Head, as his integrity is debatable. He is expected to reply on why he should be considered a man of impeccable integrity to lead CVC while he is being investigated.
My view is that the corruption has as cancer crept throughout the Indian society. Any initiative to curb it is a step in the right direction. Below are few paragraphs, which I am copying from the document “Battling India’s malaise of Corruption” from CVC site. These paragraphs are from an address to India CEO Forum. The numbering of the prargraphs is as per the document.
1. There is no denying the fact that there is widespread corruption in India. Petty corruption which affects the basic rights and services of the common man is highly rampant besides the grand corruption scandals which break out every now and then. A report on bribery in India published by Trace International in January,09 states that :
- 91% of the bribes were demanded by govt. officials.
- 77% of the bribes demanded were for avoiding harm rather than to gain any advantage.
- Of these 51% were for timely delivery of services to which the individual was already entitled. Example, clearing customs or getting a telephone connection
4. Various attempts have been made to indicate the impact of corruption in quantitative terms. Some estimates show that govt. loses about Rs. 2 lakh crores annually due to tax evasion while about Rs. 40,000 crores is lost due to delay in projects. Transmission and distribution losses in the Power Sector are estimated to be about 50%, out of which about 30% is attributed to theft in connivance with the Electricity Boards employees.
According to one estimate if corruption was not there, the Public Sector Enterprises would have improved their profit margin by almost 20%. According to a corruption economist (Mauro) if corruption in India is reduced to the level of the Scandinavian countries, then investment would rise by 12% annually and GDP would grow at an additional 1.5%.
5. The important causes of corruption in India are poor regulatory framework, exclusivist process of decision making aggravated by discretion and official secrecy, rigid bureaucratic structures and processes; and absence of effective internal control mechanism. Social acceptability and tolerance for corruption and absence of a formal system of inculcating the values of ethics and integrity further propagates corruption.
11. Anti-corruption efforts in India have been largely focused on the Public Sector which is called the “demand side” in the parlance of corruption economics. The private sector which forms the “supply side”, which actually pays the bribes, has been largely ignored. The supply side theories often put the onus of fighting corruption on the private sector. It states that firms pay bribes primarily for overcoming their shortcomings in terms of – poor quality of their product/service, high price of their product or to create a market for their goods which otherwise are not in demand. Thus they pay bribe to stay in competition despite these handicaps or to avoid true and fair competition. Corruption is the anti-thesis of a free, fair, competitive and efficient market, as it distorts the objectivity, transparency and fairplay in the market. It may therefore be argued that business entities are obliged to maintain integrity in order to maintain the efficiency and sanctity of the market. It would be self destructive to distort the very market on which they are dependent for their existence. Therefore the theory X of corruption economics advocates that given an opportunity and if the fears of the private sector are allayed, they will at all cost stand up against corruption. It is this thinking that has given rise to instruments like Code of Conduct and Integrity Pact through which we try to involve the private sector in fighting corruption.
The above-mentioned paragraphs highlight the problems due to corruption. India will gain many advantages if it is able to remove corruption from society. I know this appears somewhat preachy, but let us take some personal ownership for removing corruption from our life.