Tackling corruption

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Jammu and Kashmir Governor, Satya Pal Malik has repeatedly been talking about the corruption that has plagued almost all the institutions in the state. His statements are sounding music to the ears of common people who have all along been facing the wrath of corruption. They too have been raising their voices but to no avail. From a birth certificate to death certificate; from state subject certificate to employment; from hospitals to educational institutions; from engineering departments to revenue – in fact in every sphere of life they are made to pay for what they actually deserve. Now that the Governor himself has admitted how deep-rooted the corruption here is, hoping against hope, people have started watching how the Governor is going to tackle this issue.

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, successive governments have done precious little to tackle corruption. 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. Corruption is today the single most important factor pushing people away from the government and its systems. And 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 political and executive hierarchy only. 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.

Though there are quite a few agencies here whose sole mandate is to check corruption, but the unfortunate reality is that these agencies themselves are plagued with the menace. This is why each time we are told about their report cards, it only contains details of the anti-corruption cases registered without saying anything about the number of cases taken to the logical conclusion by fixing responsibility on the unscrupulous and subsequent punishment to them. This is really unfortunate that — when the concerned agencies should have been flaunting the number of cases solved with the corrupt getting punishments, they are seen publicizing the figures about the number of cases registered against the corrupt officials. These figures mean nothing – because each case take years to complete and even after that time there is no guarantee about the system being able to fix responsibility and punish the unscrupulous! In this backdrop, the Governor’s assertions are being welcomed by one and all and people expect that the words are transformed into action.

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