Wednesday, November 24, 2010

How do we tackle corruption and ensure propriety?

Chavan and Adarsh Scam in Maharashtra, BSY episode in Karnataka and Resignation of Rosaiah in Andhrapradesh  highlights the interplay of corruption, propriety and political ambitions of individuals creating political instability.  2G Scam, Radia tapes, Landscams in Karnataka, CVC appointment have exposed all political parties and some journalists.  In this context, tackling corruption and ensuring propriety in public affairs becomes important.  Lone voices (example - samAlochaka) are heard attempting to analyze the situation. Here is contribution by media.syndicate.

Corruption and Honesty
Everyone talks about political corruption all the time. Public perception about almost all Prime Minister (PM) / Chief Minister (CM) / minister is the same - that they are corrupt. With little differences. But only some of them are caught. People think that it their fate! Still, strangely, some politicians are still perceived as honest (relatively?) and they command respect (relatively in the true sense). How is it possible?

In today’s political climate, money is playing a significant role. Persons who could spend money are considered for candidature from all political parties. Stability of the government is also dependent on the money power of the people who are managing it. Political parties need huge amounts of money to fight elections and to save government.

In this context, honesty (or corruption), it is said, has taken a new definition. It is not who (who is not) honest (or corrupt). The questions is who is more (or less) corrupt (honest)?

If the corruption money goes to the party coffers, then it is widely accepted. If the money is meant for the wider circle of neighborhood of the corrupt, it is okay. The corruption is unacceptable only if it is destined to the restricted circle of relatives and personal friends.

High command culture
Prominent office bearers at the national level is called High Command. The party has a responsibility of ensuring that propriety in public life. It may have to discipline Chief Minister of a state, as an example. Presently public opinion has become the sole criteria for measuring propriety. It has many negative consequences. General public will not know many things. Manipulation of the perception of the public could be easy. In these contexts, political managers, if they depend only on the public opinion as the criteria for deciding boundaries of propriety, then, their actions and decisions can only become sheer adhocness in perpetuity.

Democracy and political parties
The process of decision making involving High Command model is debatable from constitution perspective. Can High Command of a political party decide to replace a Chief Minister of a state? Whether the High Command of the political party be allowed to modify the verdict given by the people of a state? Under what circumstances?

The questions are pertinent because, a coterie of people at the center may subvert the aspirations of the people and this could go against principles of democracy. All the political parties are known for their reluctance to promote internal democracy. Office bearers are more comfortable with obedient subordinates and there is no sincere effort to promote dynamic leadership.

Funding for political parties
Political parties need funds to fight elections. This necessity is promoting the role of the money in public life to newer heights. There is a wide agreement that financial requirements of political parties is a major factor for the corruption at individual level as well as at the systemic level.

To reduce the role of money in public affairs, there is a suggestion that budgetary allocation to be made available to meet the expenses of the political parties. But there are several consequences. Some of the weaker political entities may not be able to get government funds. Secondly, major political parties who get funds will be able to create authoritative High Commands who will eventually dictate terms to local democratic institutions and elected representatives.

Personal ambitions and political stability
In the present system, and probably in any other revamped systems as well, personal ambitions has been identified as a major factor in the generation of political crises. Desire to become PM / CM / Minister, eagerness to replace the incumbent are causing political instability to governments in many cases. How can a political party contain personal ambitions of its leaders? What are the mechanisms a political party should adopt to motivate its leaders to work together to fight its political adversaries and simultaneously not fight among themselves for power?

[Contributed by mksri and SW]