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Anti-corruption efforts: Modi would go down by failing or go up by succeeding

By NS Venkataraman* 

The respect and public esteem that politicians commanded in India was at the highest level , when they were fighting for the freedom of the country from British rule under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi . The freedom for India was attained in 1947. At that time, ethics and morals were considered as cardinal principles of politics.
Many stalwarts with high level of personal integrity and lofty principles and commitment to national cause such as Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhai Patel, C. Rajagopalachari and so many others were on the scene , who were respected even by the Britishers and even as the Britishers harassed them and put them in jail for their freedom struggle.
After independence in 1947, for around 15 years or so , reasonably high level of standards were maintained in the Indian politics. However, with the passing away of the freedom fighters one by one who were replaced by next generation politicians , standards of politics started declining in the country.
The deterioration steadily became more severe by the year 1980 and beyond when corruption level amongst politicians reached alarming level and became the order of the day. People started losing faith and started thinking that politicians remaining honest would be an exception rather than a rule in India.
In the year 2014 national elections, Mr. Modi campaigned strongly and promised to root out corruption in India in every sphere. As people were desperately looking for such commitment from a political leader, people responded and Mr. Modi became the Prime Minister of India.
Again in the year 2019, Mr. Modi was elected as Prime Minister of India , as people continued to believe that Mr. Modi could be the political leader who can root out corruption in India. While Mr. Modi’s Prime Ministership is being applauded or criticised for several reasons, the ground reality is that most people are impressed about the personal integrity of Mr. Modi and his success in leading the central government without any charges of corruption or nepotism against anyone of his ministers.
Mr. Modi is attempting to checkmate corruption by promoting transparency in administration , digitalisation of transactions, direct transfer of subsidies to poor people etc. But, corruption continues to prevail in India today.
Certainly, in the coming 2024 national election, by and large, people would evaluate Mr. Modi’s performance based on his efforts to root out corruption in India.
Corruption free India nowhere looks like emerging in the near future , inspite of the dent that Mr. Mod has made in the corruption climate in the country to some extent. The challenge for Mr. Modi in fighting corruption is in reforming the calibre of politicians in India.
The problem is that majority of politicians in India today are shameless and do not think that indulging in corruption is anything wrong. Now, further deterioration is seen that these corrupt politicians are not only shameless but are also becoming fearless. Some of them seem to think that going to jail on corruption charges would not be a bad idea , as they seem to think that they could gain people’s sympathy and get their votes. What sort of mindset is this?
Everyone of the politician who have indulged in corruption which are very obvious , call the investigation against their misdeeds as vendetta , when enforcement agencies catch them on some solid ground. Instead of feeling disturbed and shameful for being investigated against and the charges against them certainly credible , the corrupt politicians challenge the government and call the actions against them as vindictive and motivated. With money power at their disposal , they are able to organise demonstration and protest meetings and issue false narratives to mislead the gullible public. Media is full of stories about corrupt politicians being hauled up and these corrupt politicians defending themselves and with no sense of shame or fear.
It remains to be seen how Mr. Modi would deal with such shameless and fearless corrupt politicians. Putting them down is a pre condition to ensure near corruption free in India.
The challenge before Mr. Modi is grim and he has to live upto his reputation a s a crusader against corruption, before the forthcoming 2024 national election.
Obviously, Mr. Modi has to be ruthless in dealing with the corrupt politicians, whether they belong to the opposition political parties or his own political party . One may think that in the type of political climate in India today, where corruption has become a rule rather an exception and where corruption is no more confined to politics alone but also have trickled to all sorts of business activities at different level , Mr. Modi’s ruthless approach against corrupt politicians would be met with fierce resistance .
The task is really daunting, as several political parties are now really controlled by dynastic persons (family members), who adopt all sort of strategies to amass wealth by foul means and to protect their family interests. In such conditions, it has become necessary not only to catch the corrupt politicians but also their family members.
It remains to be seen as to whether such anti-corruption efforts would lead to a situation, where Mr. Modi would go down by failing or go up by succeeding.
---
*Trustee, Nandini Voice For The Deprived, Chennai

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