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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Can we solve corruption in India?

Outgoing Central Vigilance Commissioner of India Mr Pratyush Sinha thinks that one in three Indians is corrupt.

No. I believe that figure is red herring..We can not solve corruption by chasing corruption.

The problem with India is one in three Indians is an idiot and others are fence sitters.
It is the idiocy of Indians that need to be blamed for corruption because there are simple solutions to get out of corruption.. Here are they.

1. Limit the number of tenures for chief minister and prime minister’s posts to a maximum of two terms in life time.
This will create a churn among the politicians and we may get better candidates once in a while. Remember CVC’s observation that 30% are corrupt and 20% are honest…In the current setup 20% never get chance.

2. Introduce “right to a speedy trial” in fundamental rights. (Just like as in USA)– Faster trials produce deterrent results and instill fear of law in corrupt and belief in the system for the fence sitters.

3. Electronic transaction records for any purchases above Rs. 10,000. At present the corrupt can spend their black money lavishly.. Create a system that can trace the spending to the person so that law enforcement can spend time in prosecutions rather than conducting raids to uncover unaccounted money.

4. Think market solutions.. One of the problem with India is that we are trained to think too much into supply side. America thinks from the market side and assumes that market solves the problem. In India if we want to ensure meals to the poorest of poor we come out with elaborate public distribution system that then soon devolves into self serving corrupt organization. In America they have solved this problem long ago. Government distributes food stamps to the poorest of the poor. These food stamps can be used to purchase whatever they want from the free market at competitive prices and superior quality.

Thinking supply side is a pattern that repeats everywhere in India. If we want to send man to moon we come out with an organization that will create the infrastructure and own that end to end.. In America government creates a market for services that can be used for flight to the moon and individual companies bid for providing innovative solution. So the private sector builds the infrastructure and pushes the envelope.

5. Last but the most difficult to achieve is overhaul of education. At present we have a feeling that corruption is an issue of ethics. However corruption has to be equated to bad governance. Corruption is a form of governance that undermines accountability. The systems that have no accountability in the physical world are called “open systems” and open systems are hard to predict. Only when the feedback that too a corrective form of feedback is introduced the systems become stable.

In the case of India the education and rationalization of Indians is incomplete. People are not able to see the connection between the endless poverty, stasis and corruption. It is not that we do not have means to come out of that cycle. But we need a system that shuts out corruption and we need to think that we are better off with that system.. rather than fatalistic approach many people are educated into.

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