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Bureaucratic corruption goes unchecked as politicians are directly or indirectly involved in grabbing wealth

Courtesy: Wall Street Journal
By Prabhakar Kulkarni*
India aspires to be a super power and competing with other countries in Asia. But a survey, carried out by Transparency International India (TII) – which is a leading non political, independent, non-governmental anti-corruption organization, with extensive expertise and understanding of issues of corruption – has found that Indian bureaucracy is the worst in Asia.
However, why it is worst and whether it is duly sheltered by political wings of the government needs further analysis. It is not merely a matter of efficiency but also corruption. Because this bureaucracy turns quite efficient the moment it is bribed.
The bribery is not duly checked by politicians as they are also directly or indirectly involved in grabbing wealth and assets. Thus, India seems to be the most corrupt in Asia and this is periodically exposed in both the television and print media.
The exposure is indicative of the very system, which fails at whatever attempts are being made to make India a super power as also triggering socio-economic inequality in the country. Transparency in democracy is indispensable as people should know almost all transactions carried out by the democratic government as also the monetary strength of those who govern them.
The strength needs to be an achievement based on honest efforts and means as the democratic governance is presumed to be clean in it’s both the political and administrative wings.
Politicians who contest elections are expected to declare their assets both in kind and cash. Most of them seem to have large amount of wealth in the form of land, flats, ornaments, fixed deposits in banks as also cash in hands. Most of them have more than a few lakhs while some are possessing assets worth crores of rupees.
During recent elections in Maharashtra, and now UP, assets of candidates were disclosed. One candidate is reported to be possessing more than Rs 680 crore in assets while others are in lesser amount in crores. These figures indicate that politicians possess much more than what normal voters imagine. In a way politicians are richer than most of those they govern and this is more so in a poor and developing country like India.
Once the assets are declared they should be verified whether they are proportionate or disproportionate to the sources of income. There should be automatic system of vigilance and inquiry about this aspect the moment the candidates contesting elections declare their assets.
The Election Commissioner should initiate inquiry and ask the relevant agency to carry out the inquiry. If the inquiry is not carried out mere declaration of assets before elections has no significance.
Because the declare assets in crores create doubt among voter as to how so much of assets are possessed by the concerned candidates. The doubt needs to be dispelled by the election administration.
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*Senior journalist in Maharashtra

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