Terming corruption as “anti-national, anti-development and anti-poor,” Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development D. Purandeswari on Saturday blamed “a majority of the population which wants to be a silent witness to corruption” for failing in the national duty of fighting corruption.
“Fighting corruption is the national duty of every patriotic Indian. If five crore corrupt elements are ruining the country, the remaining 95 crore people who are either the victims of corruption or silent witnesses to the pervasive corruption scene are failing in their duty,” Ms. Purandeswari said at a seminar on “upholding values in public life” organised in Bangalore by the Rashtriya Navanirmana Vedike to mark the 83rd birth anniversary of the late chief minister Ramakrishna Hegde.
“Fighting corruption is the most important need if we want India to become an economic and military super power and ensure that every citizen will get his rights as well as a better quality of life,” she said.
A study conducted by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry had demonstrated how corruption was anti-development by revealing that the investment in the country would increase by 2.9 per cent of the GDP and GDP growth would increase by 1.3 per cent if corruption index improved by one standard deviation.
According to a rough estimate, India was losing additional investments to the tune of Rs. 63,800 crore every year and Rs. 28,600 crore of consequent national income a year because of the prevalence of corruption.
Similarly, the harm caused to poor people by corruption was obvious from the fact that 36 per cent of the foodgrain and 31 per cent of sugar stocks meant for public distribution system slipped into black market, she said.
Schools for netas
She proposed setting up of institutes for grooming politicians with focus on personality development and value-orientation. After such a course, the budding politicians should be screened by an autonomous board for being allowed to contest, she said.
Stressing the need for prescribing a “minimum criterion” for candidates to contest elections, she said: “An applicant for even a peon’s post is required to have some qualification, but a political leader needs none. When there is three-tier screening for selecting civil servants, why there should not be tougher screening for politicians who command bureaucrats.”
Lokayukta Justice N. Santhosh Hegde expressed concern over loose ends in the legislation which were stringent only on common man, but not on bureaucrats, who indulged in corruption. He wondered why the prosecuting authority should take permission from the department head to prosecute a corrupt official when such permission was not required in other criminal cases.
He said: “Unless we have the will to oppose corruption and law makers have will to strengthen the anti-corruption laws, it is difficult to fight corruption.”
Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly Siddaramaiah, KPCC president R.V. Deshpande and the former minister P.G.R. Sindhia recalled their association with Mr. Hegde.
Ramakrishna Hegde’s daughter and vedike president Mamata Nichani spoke. Hegde’s wife Shakuntala Hegde was present.
The Hindu, Aug 29, 2009