Corruption 2: Corruption- Can we fight it successfully, or no?

31 JULY 2023

Right_Wrong

Digitization has helped in a big way. It was congress’s Rajiv who said that only 15% of what Govt. says reaches the right target groups like farmers, people below poverty line etc. He said that about quarter of a century ago but neither he nor other congress Govt. did anything about it. Now the whole world watches with interest and wants to know from India how to go about digitization in such a mass scale. One key aspect of our digitization is that the youth have taken to it and both the youth and others have not gone back to any other method of payments like cash etc. Digitization has come to stay and therefore corruption to that extent should have been reduced. Action had to wait until 2018 to start when Modi Govt. with a promise to reduce corruption, and the will to do it, started the process after taking 4 years after BJP came to power, as the ground had to be prepared before sowing the seed, and for that they had to undo do so many things done by the six decades of misrule. Better late than never but now in 2023 the process has picked up speed. Opening of lakhs of bank accounts and bank to bank transfer and use of cheque payments also have helped in avoiding middlemen who were taking cuts.

Of course, we cannot forget the places where the black money/cash is disposed of in a high amount like marriages, horse races and other gambling activities. These places should be considered in our fight against corruption.

These are all small-time corruption transactions I am talking about; they are large in number as such transactions are millions a day in the country. The total corruption amount may successfully compete with another kind of corruption transaction namely the high-value transactions, but fewer in number. These happen in real estate sector, getting a NOC, converting an agricultural piece of land to non-agricultural, getting a license for a product, factory etc. etc. Here the corruption money will look too big if you quote an amount. So, the intelligent corrupt people have come out with a different pricing scheme namely % of total transacted amount. Now the figure looks small like typically 20% except in exceptional cases where the figure is higher. These people are more intelligent than statisticians who use absolute figures and %’s inappropriately, in wrong places. They quote numbers to put India down by comparing with small nations with less than 20% of India’s population, instead of using %’s. Then they also use %’s where actual numbers would be more appropriate.

Though these two different types of systems exist for payment of corruption money, there is a factor common to both: These transactions happen in the contact point between a govt. employee or officer and the hapless common citizen. This gives us a certain clue to control and reduce corruption. First reduce the number of rules because of which citizens are forced to approach govt. officials. Modi govt. has done an outstanding job on this by cutting down three rules a day of its existence, though the PM had given only one rule per day as the target. This should have had good effect on the ease of living and the ease of doing business, the two schemes of the PM.

But we must do more than just this:We must find a way of catching red-handed as such a transaction is going on. One method is of course fitting cameras all over the Govt. offices, but citizens can be called to a location in the office where there are no cameras, or where the cameras are not working for any reason including sabotaging and not acting to get it repaired. Nobody in a government office would be interested in getting it repaired as it cuts the income of all concerned- bottom to top. So, cameras are not an effective method for controlling or reducing corruption.

We must come out with an innovative, effective method for catching such transactions as they are going on. We thought of this method: As mobile is available with almost everyone now, the affected citizen must put his hand in the mobile in his pocket in the pant and just press one digit- any one digit. This should send an alarm to the vigilance department attached central vigilance commission, who should reach the place within two minutes. I remember in Gujarat a similar system was in operation for at least 3 months, not for controlling corruption but for controlling hooligans indulging in violence. The police were in the place of the incident in less than 3 minutes. This was very effective in controlling rioting, looting and arson.

But before even trying out, we must find a way of differentiating between the numbers getting pressed accidentally and getting pressed by humans. A way must be found to avoid altogether numbers getting pressed accidentally.

One loophole in this system is that the vigilance department personnel may get hand in glove with the corrupt govt. employees and the former would get a decent amount per month for not coming to the place despite alarm system working. But to be fair, not everyone is corrupt even in govt. or vigilance departments, there are a few very honest officers, who despite being surrounded by totally corrupt employees and bosses, put their foot down and refuse to be drawn in. So, this system would control corruption better than the absence of such a system. Such a system should take care of both the high volume, low value and low volume, high value transactions.

Of course, this should not be revealed to anyone including the public, as the whole exercise would be in futile if not kept confidential. Let it be known by word of mouth by the affected parties who also won’t know there is a system working and would take it as a coincidence if caught red handed.

We must introduce this method in chosen events, locations, and departments before spreading it across the country.

Locations: any one or two state capitals, say Chennai, Delhi, Indore/Bhopal.

Departments: for low value high volume transactions, department issues involving real estate other than registration, municipal, issues, small works in electricity department. Water supply department and traffic police.

Departments for high value low volume transactions: Real estate registrations, agriculture to non-agriculture conversions, electricity office new connections, NOC issues, water supply departments. NOC from police for renting our apartments / houses or business offices.

The above suggestions can be enhanced by authorities if vigilance departments but none of the above can be dropped out of the list.

A track should be kept of the number of such request received, attended and the result and continuously monitored and action taken as per trend.

The above suggestion passes the PICKSS test of what only, where only, who only and when only and should therefore ensure high probability of success.

Right_Wrong

From the very few indices without brackets in the minus column, the conclusions under 11.2 are right.

From the number of indices with brackets under minus it is also clear that a significant number of expert opinions went wrong.


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