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Tag Corruption

Can Gandhigiri solve Corruption? 10

Feb7

I was forced to mull on this question by the runway popularity of a recent post by Fumiko Nagano on the World Bank blog regarding the efforts of 5th Pillar to fight Corruption in India with Zero Rupee Notes. Since then, it has taken the digital world by storm with several hundred twitterattis including @ShashiTharoor and @Gulpanag retweeting its link and several prominent websites including The Economist, CNN, Boing Boing featuring related posts. 5th Pillar is Chennai based, grass roots organisation that has been working against Corruption using RTI and Zero Rupee Notes. It encourages people to use Zero Rupee Notes distributed by them to counter requests for bribe. This is akin to ‘Gandhigiri’ as it tries to shame the Corrupt officials into giving up Corruption instead of using punitive measures. For the uninitiated, the concept of Gandhigiri was introduced by a 2006 Hindi film, Lage Raho Munna Bhai. It consists of confronting the tormentor with moral force, kindness and non-violence in true Gandhian tradition. Since the release of the movie, strikers, protesters and activists have begun to distribute roses or flowers to draw attention to their cause. Even powerful Politicians & Police have sometimes resorted to  Gandhigiri in an attempt to educate the public and convey their message.

Corruption in India Graphic

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Social Media roundup of Corruption 6

Jan29

The beginning of a new decade is a time to look back and set new strategic goals for future. A decade is a definitive period in a country’s history that can shape its fortunes for a long time to come. So let us review the progress of our fight against Corruption and resolve for a decade of concerted actions culminating in a Corruption Free India.

After I started this blog in May last year, I have seen the issue of ‘Corruption’ rise up steadily in public consciousness. Earlier Corruption used to hit the headlines whenever there was a new ‘expose’ only to fade away in oblivion after that. A lot seems to have changed in the past few months with Corruption being recognized as the key bottleneck inhibiting India’s progress. Several key opinion leaders have in unison thrown their weight behind the issue of Corruption in India. Some people might say that this is just a storm in the teacup. It might well be that. Yet many a cataclysmic change have started on more insignificant notes.

Anti Corruption India Image

One such storm in the tea cup happened when ‘Jaago Re’, the much acclaimed campaign of Tata Tea, decided to adopt ‘Corruption’ as their next focal issue after running a successful voter turnout campaign for several years. The credibility of their earlier campaign as well as the strength of the Tata brand together promise a sustained campaign against corruption. It began with new TV spots Khilana Band Pilana Shuru as well as a brand new interactive website www.jaagore.com .

Several prominent bloggers too have zeroed in on ‘Corruption’ as being the key to India’s future. Atanu Dey has been most incisive of them all. He has written several posts on the issue of Corruption and how it inhibits economic development. At the end of one such post A Digression on Corruption… , he aptly concluded that India is poor because it is Corrupt. Another regular blogger, a Delhi based foreign correspondent, John Elliott wrote The Blight of Corruption in India . It explores how corruption at state levels have risen by leaps and bounds and it often forces the hands of the Central Government in the federal structure of our democracy.

Rajesh Jain, India’s numero uno Internet entrepreneur,too spelt out his thoughts on Corruption in a 5 part series Corruption in India declaring that fighting Corruption could be the next game changer for India. Gurcharan Das, the famous author of ‘India Unbound’ too emphasized the need to wage a war against Corruption in his new year post Future is ours to seek .

The ‘Corruption’ expose of the year was undoubtedly the Madhu Koda scam where almost a Billion Dollar graft by the ex Chief Minister of Jharkhand was unearthed Outlookindia – Cover Story on Madhu Koda . The sheer size of the scam has put the spot light back on Corruption. Our effort now should be to keep it there.

On my blog, I started by laying the groundwork for a greater role of Social Media in fighting Corruption. I followed it up in a 3 part series starting with Gods of Corruption detailing how easy it was to find Corruption in India. My regular activity on Twitter can be followed at nobribe . A Facebook Fan Page Corruption Free India was launched a few months back to facilitate interactivity among the support group. At this stage however, there are many more questions than answers – Why are we corrupt? ; Is Corruption in India inevitable? ; How can we tackle Corruption? ; What is the extent of Corruption? ; Why do we need to measure Corruption? ; How to measure Corruption? ; How can Social Media fight Corruption? and many more such questions. I do not claim to have all the answers but I am sure we will find our way if we keep looking for the answers together. A lot of you have encouraged me in my journey to unravel this mystery and offered your active support. I propose to take up some of the questions (not in the same order) in the weeks and months to come. Also working on a ‘wiki’ based solution that will allow for greater collaboration.

Recently the most influential management guru in the world, C. K. Prahlad dwelt at length on the issue of Corruption in India while delivering the Nani A Palkhivala memorial lecture Business Standard – Corruption Costs… estimating its cost to the Indian economy to be $54.3 Billion. He exhorted the nation to confront this issue with all the resources at its command. On a similar wintry, cold Delhi morning at the start of the previous decade Prahlad had boldly suggested that India should target 10% GDP growth rate . This was the time when India was just coming out of its customary slow growth rate and even a 7% target seemed awfully ambitious. Yet there he was,fresh from his success of the ‘Bottom of the Pyramid theory’ propounding a bold path forward for India to move on. Many people felt at that stage that he might just be shooting from his hips, yet by end of that decade, even though we didn’t actually attain 10% growth rate, yet the number does not raise any eyebrows anymore. Here is hoping that this new decade will mark the beginning of the end of Corruption in India. Let’s all work for it.

Bribe Rate Chart 8

Jan1
Each of us have our own experiences of Corruption to share. Bribe Rate Chart is an effort to pool our common knowledge of Corruption into making a price list of corruption services through out the country. Any reader may add new information to the table and become a contributor to this collective effort. The modification will however be subject to moderation by the moderator. As per decision of the moderator the proposed addition/ change may be accepted or deleted.
Department/ Designation Service Location Rate Reference
Income Tax Refund (Manual IT Return) India up to 10% of Refund Amount @NoBribe
Police FIR – Stolen Car Noida Rs. 5,000/- @Akshay_Khanna
Police Passport Police Verification India Rs. 200 – 500/- @NoBribe
Police Passport Police Verification Bangalore Rs. 100/- msubbudu
Police Traffic Violation Bangalore Rs. 100/- msubbudu
Railways Ticket-less Travel India upto 50% of Ticket Price @NoBribe
BDO/ Mukhiya/ Gram Sevak BPL Card Bihar Rs. 5,000/- Hindustan Times – Patna, 30.04.2010
District Registrar Marriage Registration Noida Rs. 1,100/- @Naina
KEB Repairing Main line from Pole Bangalore Rs. 75/- per person msubbudu
TNEB Allocation of Transformer/ Cable to an area Tamilnadu Rs. 5,000/- TOI
TNEB 3 Phase, 50/100 Amps Meter Tamilnadu Rs. 3,000 – 5,000/- TOI
TNEB Replace burnt Meter Tamilnadu Rs. 2,000/- TOI
BSEB New Connection/ Load Enchancement Bihar Rs. 1,000 per KW @NoBribe
BSEB Removing Old Meter after disconnection Bihar Rs. 1,500/- @NoBribe
State Govt – Registrar House Registration Mumbai Rs. 5,000/- sriram

If you wish to add to this rate chart, please register and then login to be able to edit this rate chart. For help on adding information to this table click help.

Gandhi’s Monkeys 5

Aug18

Out of the many advices that Gandhiji gave to the nation, none has been turned on its head more completely than his three monkeys sermon. His three monkeys symbolised the purity of inner self with ‘See No Evil, Hear No Evil and Speak No Evil’ . The bureaucrats and the politicians have conveniently taken two of his three advices to their hearts - See No Evil and Hear No Evil.  That is what prevents them from seeing any corruption or hearing about any either.

Indian Poitics Image

Governments routinely go about their work with blinkers on, paying scant attention to the rampant corruption all around them. While government can’t find corruption, people can’t seem to lose it. A common man meets corruption everywhere. To him, government itself has become the fountainhead of corruption. Wherever citizens come in contact with government, corruption potentially happens. The incidence of corruption is so pervasive in the day to day life that it is ironical that government vigilance departments have to work so hard to nail corruption. When corruption is present everywhere, all one needs is the determination to confront it. Yet the charade of catching and releasing culprits goes on, while the malady of corruption festers and grows by the day.

If the government is serious about confronting corruption, first of all, it needs to get its head out of the sand and boldly acknowledge the existence of the problem. Any solution can only emanate from there. The government can then begin its war on corruption by holding ‘Anti Corruption Weeks’ for promoting awareness and informing about future corruption control methods.  This should be followed by ‘Corruption Audits’ of departments for both the people as well as the processes. The aim of these audits should be to locate those departments that can be easily rid of corruption and used as models for the rest of the departments. The audits should review official documentation and the procedures that are being followed, especially with respect to common citizens. It should also review the financial status of the officials to match their known sources of income. Most importantly public comments should be invited to gauge the perception about the department. Wherever feasible social media should be used for the purpose. The audits should certify certain departments as ‘Corruption Free’ based on their findings. The rest of the  departments should be asked to draw a migration plan for being certified ‘corruption free’ after repeat future audits.Once certified, the departments should be subject to even higher standards of accountability and any transgressions should be severely punished. All this may seem like a fairy tale but a driven person like T. N. Sheshan or A. P. J. Kalam, as our ‘Corruption Czar’ can quickly turn fairy tales into reality.

Part: 1 2 3

Temples of Corruption 3

Aug9

Another common den of corruption is the Railways. Corruption here, is like a 24 hour news channel, its always on. Street knowledge will tell you that if you have no reservation and you still need to travel, it is easier for you to board the train with a simple Platform ticket or even no ticket at all, rather than with a full paid ‘wait-list’ ticket. Why? Because it gives the Ticket Inspector more room to play with. A ticket-less traveler in the reserved compartment travels as the personal guest of the Ticket Inspector. Its a win win for both of them, the traveler pays half the fare , the Ticket Inspector gets his bribe, only the government looses out in between. However the situation is downright frightening in the unreserved class. Passengers are packed like sardines. Peasants and poor people are routinely harassed by the GRP and the Ticket Inspectors.  A number of times such harassment leads to their off loading from running train, often causing severe injuries and sometimes even death. But the extortion carries on throughout the days and especially the nights.

Politics and corruption have almost become synonymous in India. Of all corruptions, political corruption is the most brazen of them all. Politicians easily explain away corruption as political conspiracy and opposition’s move to defame them. The images of Sukhram caught with crores stashed under his bed, Narsimha Rao’s son declaring more than 200 crores in VDIS, Shibu Soren casting his vote in favour of the government in lieu of money found in his bank account, Mayawati declaring to the Income Tax Department, hundreds of crores of rupees, as personal gifts from her poor followers, and the very recent Buta-son act – all have one thing in common – the persons concerned continued in active politics even after being exposed. Politicians use their control over the levers of power to milk the system on a sustained basis. Their need for corruption grows in tandem with their stature as corruption is their primary source of revenue for keeping their political fortunes alive.

India Corrupt Image

If corrupt politcians and officials are the Gods of Corruption, the Judiciary is truly the temple of corruption. Armed with the powers of contempt of court, and the discretionary powers of granting bail and dispensing punishment , Judiciary lords over corruption. Everybody swears by the Judiciary and bows before it. It is difficult not to get corrupted by such power. Corruption has been institutionalised in Judiciary, and everyone partakes. The lawyers, registrars, court orderlies, and the judges all join in to fleece the litigants and the accused. The longer the case meanders, the more chance there is to extort money. From the most minor task of seeking deferral to the grat of bail, and the highest task of deciding the case, everything carries a price tag. The secrecy, the lack of alternatives, the fear of reprisals, everything conspires to keep the judicial corruption under wraps. In the odd cases where it comes to light, progess is slow and ineffective. Not only does the Judiciary brim with corruption, it is also used by the beureucracy to cajole common citizens into submission. The threat of facing a corrupt, inefficent Judiciary soon brings them to their knees. Government after all, is not only the largest litigant in the country by a huge margin, but is also the largest abuser of law to persecute citizens on fabricated or inflated cases.

Part: 1 2 3