The unexpected victory of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi Assembly elections and the effects of veteran social activist Anna Hazare’s stir compelled the political parties to pass the Lokpal Bill. An approach towards this direction was started in 1968 and it has finally taken a step forward towards reality. Amidst growing incidents of scams and scandals, when Anna Hazare in 2011 at Jantar Mantar in Delhi started fasting for a strong Lokpal Bill, the government along with other political parties felt the pressure but a concrete step was not taken. This prompted Anna to stage another sit-in, where he was arrested. The ripples were so strong that it compelled the political parties to adopt a ‘serious’ and ‘dedicated’ stance towards Lokpal Bill. The fight for a strong Lokpal Bill was coined as Janlokpal Bill by Anna and members of civil society, who showed thumbs down to the draft which was presented in Parliament. Though the government was successful in clearing off the draft in Lok Sabha, but things took a dramatic turn in the Rajya Sabha and the Bill could not be passed. This hinted towards the fact that the political parties are not committed towards the passage of a strong Lokpal Bill. Finally, the matter was handed over to the Standing Committee of Parliament, which brought in a certain changes in draft, a few of which were demanded by the members of civil society and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders. This amended draft was passed during Winter Session, first in Rajya Sabha and then in Lok Sabha. Anna gave his approval to the new amended draft, which brings the Prime Minister under the ambit of Lokpal as well, with certain conditions provided. The recommendations of Standing Committee in terms of selection of Lokpal, authority and process of investigation were also accepted. Another major amendment which was supposed to make its way in the draft was to trim down the government’s role in the selection of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director.  

The most common form of corruption is that which makes the common people face a number of hardships in their day-to-day life and nothing but such corruption makes their life a living hell. Whenever a common man approaches any part of administration to get his work done, he has to pay bribe, ranging from hundreds to lakhs of rupees. This amount makes its way into the pockets of corrupt officers as well as leaders. There is no data and no one can even estimate the exact amount which is exchanged via this particular mode, i.e., corruption. Whether the Lokayukta, on the lines of Lokpal, will be able to check corruption in states is a big question. The wings of corruption is so expanded that it’s difficult for a law or an institute to put an end to it. One can expect corruption to take a backseat only when there will be a change in the mindset of people along with enforcement of stricter law. In order to eradicate tendency of such greed, some efforts should be made by the society also. The government employees now can’t complain that they are switching to corrupt practices because of their meager salaries. Despite of earning a decent salary, if the government employees and officers are not giving up corruption, it’s only because of their greed and nothing else. To eradicate corruption, which is widespread in every administrative department – big or small, the government should focus on adopting a new strategy.

The nation has been facing a new kind of corruption for past few years and this facet of corruption has emerged in the form of scams and scandals, which are related to corporate world. It’s indeed ironical that corporate houses have been kept outside the ambit of Lokpal Bill. The nation got a clear picture of how things were messed up by the private players, who colluded with those in power in the 2G spectrum scam and coal block allocation, and went on to amass crores of rupees. These days, there are a number of private sectors, which are dominating a number of aspects, related to common men. The way government employees stuff their own pockets in the name of solving the problems of common men, the private sector is also catching up with the same tendency. It’s true that the employees are more accountable in private sector but the aging labour laws are helping deepen the roots of corruption. In order to put a check on this menace of corruption, the government needs to frame certain laws which will make the private sector answerable as well. Only time would tell whether the government pays any heed to this new ‘hub’ of corruption or not. This is the fact that the government is responsible to a considerable extent for the prevalence of corruption in certain private sectors because these sectors can go to any extent to get their job done.

Some attempts should be made at every levels in order to keep a tab on corruption but one should also keep this very fact in mind that the bureaucrats could not stop working due to fear of getting caught in scams and scandals. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had indicated towards this very fact a few days back. The Samajwadi Party (SP), which has opposed the Lokpal Bill in Parliament, also said that fearing Bill, the bureaucrats would not move a single file ahead. Apart from taking a tough stance against corruption, it’s also necessary that a special arrangement should be made, which will instill a sense of security among the honest bureaucrats. By passing the Lokpal Bill, the political parties have taken a good initiative and in order to take the fight against Lokpal Bill ahead, a number of supportive laws are necessary about which Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi also talked in Lok Sabha. The nation has become a witness to the beginning of a new era towards fight against corruption. In this context, it’s necessary for the political parties and bureaucrats to come together and work in tandem to contribute towards better governance.

The passage of Lokpal Bill seems to be building an atmosphere which will keep a tab on corruption in an effective manner. This perhaps could not be possible. One of the major reasons behind this the non-implementation of any such measure which could keep a tab on the politicians accumulating wealth in an illegal manner. The entire structure of corruption is getting bigger mainly due to the politicians’ reluctance to adopt a transparent approach towards the process of making money. The politicians are not ready to become accountable under Right To Information (RTI) Act, which they feel is necessary to check the corrupt practices of bureaucrats. It’s not mandatory for the political parties to reveal the source of the donation amount, which is less than Rs 20,000 and they are taking advantage of this. In order to make the nation free from corruption, the political parties need to introspect themselves first of all. If they start functioning in a transparent manner, half of the battle against corruption will be won itself.

(An original copy of the article published in Hindi on December 22, 2013 translated by the English editorial. The author is the Group Editor of Dainik Jagran)