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28 Feb




                                  WHAT CITIZENS THINK?


Nandini  Voice  for The Deprived, (nandinivoice.com) organised an essay competition  on  the subject “Are citizens responsible for corruption in Tamil Nadu “?in January,2018.

The objective of the competition  is to provide an opportunity to people living in Tamil Nadu to express their views on the extent of corruption prevailing in the state and  the required remedial actions and how citizens can help the anti corruption cause.

A number of citizens from all over Tamil Nadu submitted their views .

The following six persons were awarded prize for their entries.

1.     S.P.Shailendran Shanmugam,  Hosur

2.     B. Ranganathan, Chennai

3.     L.Ajin, Chennai

4.    A.Nepolean, Thanjavur

5.     V. Kannan, Chennai

6.     R. Divya Bharathi, Coimbatore

Highlights of the views  submitted by the participants are provided.

Extent of corruption :

Everyone agreed that widespread corruption prevail in Tamil Nadu at all levels in the government departments. Further, corruption  in one form or the  other is very much prevalent  in the hospitals, educational institutions and even religious centres that  are under  the control of the government as well as the private sector.

The overall view appears to be that in the last few years , the corruption in Tamil Nadu has reached  peak level , much more than the earlier  years after independence, with everyone wondering whether it would even touch more than the present  level in the coming years, if the present trend would continue without being checked.

RTI Act  has not helped :

Right to Information Act (RTI Act)  has been introduced to promote transparency in government dealings and to  prevent corruption in government machinery.

The much publicized RTI Act has not helped in combating corruption in Tamil Nadu in any significant way.

In recent times, most of the queries sent as per  the RTI regulations to the government departments are passed on from one section  to another and it takes atleast four to five months to get a reply. Many times, vague  evasive replies are given  such as the  queries asked would not come under the provisions of the RTI Act or simply some general  information  that really  do not answer the query.

In many cases, the information sought under RTI Act are passed on to the persons about whom the queries are  raised,   leading to threats and intimidation to the  RTI activists. 

The Information Commissioners who are  supposed to oversee the implementation of the RTI Act have not helped the cause and the agency seems   to have become a cosmetic set up.

Net result is that  the RTI activists  feel helpless and get frustrated and in many cases,  give up the efforts itself.

Chief Minister’s cell too do not help:

Letters of complaints about negligence, corrupt dealings and nepotism  sent to the Chief Ministers Cell often  elicit  response in a postcard just acknowledging it,.

It is then routinely forwarded  to the concerned departments for suitable reply. 

In many cases, either the departments do not respond at all or  sometimes send  a vague reply that the details have been noted and action would be taken. One rarely hears  after this.

Are citizens’ participating in corruption ?:

There seem to be development of mindset amongst people in all age groups and at various economic and educational levels that the corruption is a fact of life in Tamil Nadu and it would be necessary to sail  with the tide to survive and get things done,.

The mindset appears to be that giving bribe money is not as much unethical and immoral as taking bribe money. Some  bribe givers often tempt  the bribe takers to take the money and do the job, in the event of the official being reluctant to violate procedures.

The role of IAS & IPS officers :

There is considerable disappointment that some   officers  belonging to IAS and IPS cadre ,who are supposed to be steel frame of administration, do not measure up to the ethical standards expected of them.

If  the politicians and ministers would involve in corrupt dealings or favouritism, many  IAS and IPS officers simply choose to cooperate with them instead of offering resistance.

It is sometimes  seen that many top officers force the subordinate staff to arrange for the local   travel and stay etc. for them, their families and friends when they visit the districts on official tour,   which force the subordinate staff to fleece the people  and demand bribe to find money to satisfy the demands of their bosses.  In the process, the subordinate staff also fearlessly enrich themselves.

It is becoming increasingly rare to  come across top officers who are  not willing to become part of the corruption cycle  directly or indirectly and are willing to sacrifice personal comfort for the sake of anti corruption cause.

Insensitivity to media reports and observations of the judiciary :

Almost everyday, news appear in the media about corrupt dealings in one place or the other in Tamil Nadu and the occasional arrests made. These days, judges  also often express their concern about the extent of prevailing corruption in  Tamil Nadu.

However, such news and observations seem to make no real impact and only seem to help in  reinforcing  the view that corruption has become order of the day in Tamil Nadu.

What root cause and what solution?

One undeniable fact is that there is a sort of unholy collusion between the bribe givers and bribe takers in Tamil Nadu today.

The cycle  is complete , as the bribe takers also give bribe  to get their things done.

The existing rules and regulations are adequately deterrent in paper to prevent corruption.

But the ground reality is that when people reconcile themselves to give bribe for getting things done instead of resisting the bribe demand ,there seem to be no conflict of interest between bribe takers and bribe givers and so the chain moves on very smoothly.

The bribe givers may give bribe readily or reluctantly but it has become very rare that they try to resist the demand for bribe, as they are not willing to sacrifice the comforts or suffer the delay in getting things done.

In  such circumstances, it has become very clear that more rules and regulations will not solve the problem and even setting up Lok Ayukta cannot make a big impact.  Other recently taken measures such as promotion of  digitization cannot also help beyond a level, since there is little resistance from the people for  bribe demand.

 Obviously, the battle against corruption has to be fought in the minds and hearts of people.  This can be effectively done amongst the students and youth in the formative age group,  in whose minds feelings of revulsion against corruption should be built.

Anti corruption must be made  as a compulsory subject in  the lower and higher secondary classes in the schools and must be included as a subject for awarding grades,  so that students  would view the subject and study  with seriousness that it deserves and anti corruption feelings would get deeply imbibed in the mind of the students.

Non government organisations and concerned citizens must play a much more active role in creating  mindset against corruption in the society, by constantly  conducting campaign and boycotting those suspected of corruption and refraining from inviting such persons for any public functions.

Visual media can help the anti corruption cause by providing more space for the  campaign of the anti corruption activists and frequently organising  discussions  to mould the thoughts of the youth  against the corrupt tendencies in society.

A successful  hate campaign against  corruption in social media and schools and amongst the youth is the need of the day and is the  ultimate solution to combat corruption to a large extent.

Successful building up of feelings of revulsion against corruption amongst the cross section of people and their resistance against corruption moves at individual level will certainly make the politicians, government staff and other corrupt persons behave.

Strong resistance to corruption will certainly put fear in the minds of all corrupt forces  and this was seen for a few days  when Anna Hazare carried out his anti corruption  fast in  Delhi.



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