Whilst the anger on the 2G verdict was understandable, it amazed me how soon we forgot that a court has convicted no less than a Secretary to the Govt. of India in the Coal Scam. We now live in times where the PM is expected to know what the branch manager of a bank is doing, it was astonishing that former PM, Dr. Manmohan Singh was not hauled over the coals regarding the conviction of a secretary directly reporting to him!
The space in both the mainstream and social media is occupied by actions/raids/statements against politicians. The “big fish”. The “small fish” doesn’t interest this space. The “small fish” is what I would like to share my thoughts today though!
Let’s leave aside the politicians for a moment. What does corruption then mean to us? Remember that demeaning term – “broker”? Remember the number of times we might have heard that the “middlemen” and “brokers” eat up everything, and the actual beneficiaries don’t get anything? The “small fish” that directly impact the common farmer, the common petitioner, the common man. Enter the robust Direct Benefit Transfer program. First, Jan Dhan accounts have been opened up for individuals. And then Aadhar has been linked. And through this, all subsidies and payments are directly passed on to the beneficiaries themselves! The concept of “middle man” and “broker” is dying a slow death. If this doesn’t amount to action on corruption, then what does?
What else does corruption mean to us? If you are from erstwhile Andhra Pradesh, remember all those stories about Shell companies that YSR’s family had? Or remember the web of companies that Satyam Computers created? And then those discussions on how these Industrialists create these shell companies to eat money? Well, enter Demonetization. In one stroke, Modi government has cancelled the license of 2 lakh shell companies. Yep, 2 lakh shell companies and 1 lakh Directors of defunct companies have been struck off in just one night. If this doesn’t amount to action on corruption, then what does?
Remember the earlier days when you had to wait for police to come verify your address for passport and you had to pay “fees”. Getting passport has become so much easier now, that the concept of payment to visiting police has now become a thing of past! A direct change in how the system works has resulted in the near elimination of corruption in the department. If this doesn’t amount to action on corruption, then what does?
Do you remember those long lines farmers used to form outside Fertilizer shops? Do you remember those news items showing agitated farmers protesting about the lack of Urea? Do you know why there was a Urea shortage? Because Urea was being pilfered. It was being illegally diverted to Industries so that they can contaminate products that even included milk powder given to babies! What was the solution? To neem coat this Urea after which it could be used as a fertilizer. UPA allowed for only 35% of Neem Coating. Where the remaining 65% went, you can take an educated guess. There has been no respite to the farmer, because he still had to queue up outside the shop. What did Modi do? He made it mandatory that 100% Urea should be neem coated! What is the result? Do you remotely recollect any news of Urea shortage? Modi himself has mentioned this so many times – CMs used to write to him regularly when he became the PM, regarding Urea shortage. Now, no one writes to him about it. If this doesn’t amount to action on corruption, then what does?
Remember those days when we heard about having to grease the hands of interviewers for government jobs? In one stroke, Prime Minister Modi has cancelled all interviews for selections to Class 3 officers and below. All selections will be through a merit based exam that will have no scope of corruption. Have you ever met people who yearn for such jobs but are forced to shell out money? And it is then these people that go on to become corrupt, justifying their action saying they have to “earn back” what they paid? If this doesn’t amount to action on corruption, then what does?
Am I done yet? No! There was a time when we used to question why politicians get allotted so many bungalows. Guess what Modi did – a whopping 1500 powerful occupants of Lutyens’ bungalows have been evicted, if they didn’t move out. 1500 of them! This includes many former ministers, MPs etc. No wonder they are all ganging up against him! If this doesn’t amount to action on corruption, then what does?
You may get back to me asking are these measures enough? Of course we would want a world where there is no corruption. I would definitely want our government offices to get to a place where a citizen can walk in with the supreme confidence that his/her work will get done without ever having to grease anyone’s hands. Modi is doing many right things in that direction. The “big fish” may be breathing a bit easy (this twitter thread says they are not, but just to give a benefit of doubt!), but the “small fish” are surely finding it difficult! Prime Minister Modi needs all the support he can, to curb this menace of corruption.