Tuesday, June 16, 2009

"Honesty cafes" as anti-corruption strategy

As part of its anti-corruption drive and in an effort to nurture probity among its customers and society at large, Indonesia, one of the most corrupt countries in the world, has been opening cashier-free "honesty cafes" across the country. Customers can pick a drink and a bag of spicy cassava chips from the local honesty cafe’s shelves, and drop the prescribed charges inside an open plastic box. To begin with, these cafes are being opened only in schools and government offices, and till date some 7,456 honesty cafes have opened in 23 provinces in Indonesia.

As the NYT article writes, "the honesty cafes will nip in the bud corrupt tendencies among the young and straighten out those known for indulging in corrupt practices, starting with civil servants. By shifting the responsibility of paying correctly to the patrons themselves, the cafes are meant to force people to think constantly about whether they are being honest and, presumably, make them feel guilty if they are not".

Indonesia's problems are no different from that experienced by us in India. To start with, similar "honesty canteens" can be opened in State and Central Government Secretariats across the country to inculcate into civil servants the habit of putting honor over greed in their official work/transactions. Similar live experiments in inculcating civic sense can be done by opening small book and stationary stores and bakeries in atleast some of the larger government and private schools across the country.

No comments: