in The Times of India
by Dr.Jayaprakash Narayan
carrot and stick are needed
recent headline declaring that Indians pay nearly 27000 crores
bribes each year has caught the attention of quite a few readers.
While many are aghast at the quantum, some shrugged their
shoulders in smug awareness of the rotten people in government,
and others humbly admitted that unless we the people change
there is no salvation for India.
Let me briefly go over this survey of Transparency International.
It says that we paid bribes totalling 26,728 crores for the
public services of health, education, land, judiciary, police,
taxation, public distribution system, telecom and railways.
It also pointed out that more bribes were collected in the
departments of health and education when compared to the telecom
and railway services.
should we take this to mean that we Indians are generally
corrupt and wouldn't hesitate to bribe for personal gain,
or that the employees posted in the sectors of health and
education are more corrupt than those in railways or telecom?
My response to both would be an emphatic NO.
I am sure it doesn't require much convincing to see the improbability
of the more corrupt employees being posted in departments
of education and health. But what then does it mean? It indicates
two things: 1) in the railways and telecom sector, owing to
the technological innovations of the recent past, some transparency
has resulted limiting the scope for maneuvering or indulging
in rent-seeking behaviour. 2) we are not more inclined to
corruption but are compelled to pay only because there is
no choice and we tend to be less heroic when it comes to the
health of a loved one or the education and future of a child.
It is my strong belief that in any country there are always
5% of people, on one end of the spectrum, who do not require
any rules or regulations to indulge in any socially productive
behaviour and another 5%, at the other end, who tend to indulge
in bad behaviour, unless restrained firmly by social sanction
or law enforcement. The remaining 90 % of the population responds
to a system of risks and rewards. Stringent punishment for
deviant behaviour and reward for good behaviour will ensure
that a majority of the people will abide by the law of the
land and behave in a socially productive manner. Sir Gladstone
the British Prime Minister once said "The purpose of
a government is to make it easy for people to do good and
difficult to do evil".
We don't have to go too far or exercise our imagination too
much to prove this point. The same Indian who pays little
attention to rules while driving and violates all laws with
impunity in India, obeys all laws and acts in a socially productive
manner when he is in the US, Germany or any such country.
Why? The answer is two fold - first of all in most of the
developed countries there are systems to ensure socially productive
behaviour and to severely punish anything deviant. Secondly,
there are instruments of accountability like citizens charters
and right to information to ensure that most of the basic
public services are delivered to the citizens without any
hassle or extortion. Now with the passage of Freedom of Information
Bill in the Parliament a powerful instrument to enforce accountability
is available to the people of this country. So what we need
to have is a greater citizen usage of this tool, which ensures
transparency, accountability and efficiency in governance
It needs to be borne in mind that the rampant corruption is
only a symptom and not the disease and that corruption is
only a manifestation of the failure in the governance process.
Apart from the above mentioned tools, there are other systemic
solutions that need to be put in place to combat the menace
of corruption. The clean up should start with reforming the
electoral process, ensuring speedy and accessible justice,
and decentralization of the governance to facilitate delivery
of most of the basic services by the local governments.