EDITORIAL

Tackling corruption

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That rampant corruption is the main cause of concern and major irritant for the common masses here is known to all. But thus far besides the verbal assurances about ridding the state of the dangerous menace, precious little has been done to tackle corruption. This is indeed why Jammu and Kashmir has maintained dubious distinction of being among the most corrupt states. Now add to it the empirical evidence pointing to the co-relation between corruption and conflict, it is really unfortunate that the problem has not got the kind of attention it deserves.

Interestingly, in a bid to wrap their unconcern, inefficiency and lack of initiative with lame excuses, the officials here often take recourse to blaming corruption on politically turbulent situation in the state. But fact of the matter is that everybody has got a vested interest in continuation of corruption. Had it not been so, then of course the situation here would have been different. Now if anybody in the officialdom, particularly those manning various monitoring wings of the government claim they are unaware of corruption and nepotism ruling the roost here, they are simply lying. Because corruption is today the single most important factor pushing people away from the government and its systems. It is one of the major non-political factors contributing even more than the political causes to the continuation of conflict and hostilities here. So blaming corruption on political situation is nothing but an absurd excuse that has been, and is being cited to shield the corrupt and patronize corruption.

The war against the corruption has to begin from the top. With due respect to everybody, it remains an unfortunate and uncomfortable reality that corruption begins its journey and derives its strength from the top. Our politicians are corrupt and so are senior bureaucrats. So when rot is there at the top, expecting the lower levels of administration to be free of the problem is just too foolish. Therefore, if the state has to deliver itself from the clutches of corruption, it is the top hierarchy of the politics and bureaucracy which has to be cleaned first. Training guns at the lower-rung officials does not help; it hasn’t thus far. If the anti-corruption agencies of the state really mean business they will have to initiate a “cleanliness drive” from the top; lower cadres of officialdom will fall in line of their own.

Other day in his Independence Day message, Governor N N Vohra pledged that besides other things one of the major aims of his administration is to ensure clean and transparent administration.  Now this is a big pledge given the fact that thus far similar such commitments coming from the top echelons of power in the state have not been able to change much on the ground. Now that the state is under the Governor’s rule, in which the amount and extent of the political interference in the matters of governance and administration is minimal, let’s see how the government fares in minimizing corruption and nepotism, which have touched new nadir during the recent years.

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