Monday, May 2, 2011

Mirage of corruption quick-fixes

Here is my op-ed in today's Mint on the complex challenge of addressing corruption and why merely changing incentives and laws may not suffice.


gaddeswarup said...

Just wondering about the possibility:
Give a certain percentage of the fee to the official handling the case in a given time, perhaps with higher percentage for faster processing

srikant said...

As you rightly said the corruption at the top level and the bottom level can be classified into administrative and harassment.

Coming to the harassemnt corruption, there is a saying in telugu 'yadha raja, tatha praja'. The large body of lower level employees do not have a virtuous reference class at the top level, whom they can look at and understand that bribe-taking is wrong. In the absence of any such virtue we are compelled to think of systems/procedures which will by force prevent the bribe-takers; the ones suggested by you, viz., technology, alternate places of service delivery, additional userfee are in the right direction. The issue of duplicate ration cards and other services related to ration cards from private kiosks as well as from tehsildars offices in andhra pradesh is an excellent initiative provided it takes off, in that direction. Technology is one of the major inventions which is likely to come to the aid of bribe-givers if used effectively.
a culture of enforcement by default at district level should also be brought in by strenthening the enforcement machinery. There is also a need to identify and honour the twin values such as (integrity+efficiency) among the common employees in each department so that the other younger entrants into the system cultivate it as a virtue.

As far as administrative corruption is concerned, Jan Lok Pal Bill in a proper shape will certainly lead to some kind of improvement. But I see it as only a small intervention on the big picture of dirty polity at the macro level. The very system of selection of candidates by political parties running for elections, based on the amount of money the fellow can pay the party is flawed. As long as such oligarchic ingredients are part of our democracy, the administrative corruption will continue to bother our country.

Anonymous said...

All the income earned illegitimately ultimately has to go into banks or properties. Currently, the bank accounts or property registers do not adequately identify the clients. One way to introduce reasonable detterence in holding corrupt money or assets is by mandatorily linking all the financial assets to unalterable ID systems like UID or PAN card. The history of all such transactions could be saved for something like 50 years. Some sort of robust ID system need to be founded for private and public enterprises too.