Corruption & Ineffective Governance
By Dhurjati Mukherjee
Corruption in public life is a big problem in India and in spite of tall talk by leaders there has been no development to eradicate it. The recent bank frauds, the responsibility of which has been passed on to the Reserve Bank by the Finance Ministry, brings underscores that the Government in not at all serious on exterminating this scourge. Even the belated Cabinet approval for setting up the National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA), which is expected to be an independent regulator for the auditing profession, should have been taken long back.
It is a well known fact about our leaders nexus with corporate houses to fund political Parties which is in the interests of both with none interested to clean it up. Parties heavily depend on business houses for legal and illegal donations, not just for election purposes but also for other needs. Favours are extended for which illegal gratification in the form of money is received which has made leaders enormously rich.
In fact, our polity’s incomes have increased by leaps and bounds compared to any other segment of society. Moreover, the introduction of electoral bonds — now challenged in court — has failed to address the core issue of promoting transparency in funding under the new law.
Clearly, the Modi Government has turned a completely deaf eye to all these developments in spite of the Prime Minister’s big assurances. The BJP which had been pointing fingers against the Congress has proved that it is no less better and is virtually sailing in the same boat. Its leaders are also equally corrupt and do not have honest intentions and the recent results in the North East should not make them complacent.
Consequently, good governance is missing in the country and this is unlikely to change unless the political class transform their outlook. All projects and programmes are depended on down-the-line efficiency and better monitoring at the grass-root level. Though this is easier said, political scientists and sociologists believe that unless at least 30% of our leaders show sincerity and eagerness to carry out development work no benefit will reach the masses and the much needed transformation cannot be achieved.
Undoubtedly, Modi’s assurance of good governance in sectors like education, health, environment etc. needs to be accomplished for which not just the bureaucracy but also Panchayats have to be active at the grass-root level. Reports about accomplishments in all these areas are far from satisfactory and again the question of good governance is necessary to accomplish these objectives.
Indeed, the recent international ratings are no indicator of the country’s development and equitable distribution of wealth. The billionaire boom is not a sign of a thriving economy but a symptom of a failing economic system. Those working hard are struggling to fund their child’s education, buy medicines and manage two meals a day. “The growing divide undermines democracy all over the world and even in India and promotes corruption and cronyism”.
Recall former President Pranab Mukherjee words recently: “A recent report on the Indian economic situation between 2001-2007 states that 71% of the total wealth generated in India is accumulated by just 21% while 79% of the population is left with 29% of the wealth. This, according to him, cannot go on for long. Change has to be brought about by young people, not by me, not by anybody else.”
Adding, that by 2020, 64% of India’s population will be in the working age group. Again, by 2022, India is expected to have the world’s largest working population. Thus, “unless 500 million skilled jobs are created, the demographic dividend will turn out to be a demographic disaster”.
Unfortunately, the economic strategy of the Government has followed the age-old policy with little or no benefit to the masses, most of whom have to struggle for an existence in the rural areas. Added to this, poor governance and inability of the Government machinery to deliver, the implementation of schemes has been tardy and not reaching the real beneficiaries. For instance, the crop insurance scheme has not benefitted farmers but has accrued to private insurance companies.
Add to this there is intense debate world-wide over what some call ‘New Economics’ and ‘Economics of Tomorrow’ (EoT) which entails a new approach to development whereby the centre of planning has to be geared towards rural areas and upgradation of lives of the impoverished masses. The present jobless growth that is manifest in the country can be tackled if this new approach is followed.
On the social front, the focus on Hindutva and a false sense of nationalism cannot steer the country in the right direction. In fact, what the BJP is actually doing is fragmenting society and fomenting violence and hatred among various sections of society. Obviously, this cannot be the right strategy of developing the country but will take the Government towards disaster. Does the BJP think of winning the masses with such strategy?
The right wing forces today wield power to siege spaces in universities and educational institutions which have always provided a forum for debates, discussions, agreements and disagreements on subjects of human concern, based on experiences and testimonies, to move beyond the linear contemplations of understanding reality. Alas, the space for dissent has shrunk. Today, universities are producing patrons of State ideology.
If they think that following the above policies would help the BJP, this is absolutely wrong. Some illiterate or half educated people might be thinking that the Party is carrying forward the message of Hinduism but this is not correct. As only through religious tolerance can one expect social cohesion in society which is necessary for development. Thus, there is need for reorienting the policies of the Government and ensuring a system of governance both on the political and economic fronts.
Undeniably, the situation in the country is rather complex and needs serious introspection to come out of this crisis situation. Be it on the economic, social or cultural fronts, the problems need to be tackled effectively. The Government has to shed its pro-rich stand and think of grass-root development by strengthening Panchayats, tackling corruption and ensuring good governance.
For now, it might feel complacent after the recent North East electoral results but only time will tell whether the disenchantment of the major segments of society with the Party’s policies and unkept promises can be overcome. —- INFA