Do We Need An Anti-Corruption Law Or An Anti-Corrupt Mind?

Posted on August 6, 2012 in Politics at Play

By Tejan Mitra:

For past one-and-a-half years, the focus has shifted a lot from the Lokpal Bill. From accusations on members of Team Anna to the recent announcement of Anna Hazare joining politics, the question is: when did it become a war for public attention from war against corruption?

Every night, at one point or the other, at least one news channel is running a piece on the Anna Hazare movement. Every time a conspiracy is weaved by either a member of Team Anna or some minister (the latest claim by Team Anna was that the power grid was failed by the government to stop the ongoing protest at Jantar Mantar). But after seeing the recent events, is the Lokpal Bill worth it? Its one question no one is sure about. We as a democracy need a strong anti-corruption bill. But the decision rests with the Parliament, under whom the bill has been laying around for decades.

Team Anna proposed a bill which covered everyone, from mantri to santri. However, MPs and ministers objected the proposal and thus the protests started getting personal. Let’s suppose the Lokpal Bill is passed. It’s tough and holds corrupt politicians, bureaucrats and those working in government offices accountable. What about the corrupt citizens? We always see the big picture but forget the actions that take place after it. For example, traffic constables have a reputation of taking bribes so they don’t cut challans. But if you think about how it started, it was probably a civilian who offered the money. We always blame the taker but we always forget the giver. We go to government officials to get work done and we think “Hey! It’s just a few hundred rupees, let’s give it and get the work done.” The fault not only lies with the system and its core, but also with us. We are always in need of comfort. We want things that we don’t have, to sweat about. Given how the system works, we need things and we need it fast. To get things fast, we don’t mind spending a few more bucks.

It’s not that the Lokpal Bill will make any difference, it will impact the whole country, but we should also take a look at ourselves. We are selfish and we have needs, we have rights. Even if the Lokpal Bill is passed, I’m sure that corruption will still prevail because people always find a way to bend the rule and still not break it.

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Karmanye Thadani

Well, it’s true that the introduction of a law has never put an end to any crime, be it murder or rape, and you yourself accept that “(i)t’s not that the Lokpal Bill will not make any difference, it will impact the whole country…” and that it is “tough and holds corrupt politicians, bureaucrats and those working in government offices accountable”, from “mantri to santri”. So, such a law remains desirable. Of course, citizens need to introspect the commission of crimes on their own part. Perhaps laws that hold citizens responsible for acts that don’t harm others, such as not wearing a helmet or a seat belt (except the consumption of hard drugs), should be repealed, for citizens don’t want to take the time to go all the way to the police station for the same and it increases corruption, but otherwise, citizens would never bribe, except to derive undue favours, though an exception can be for hospital beds, for which leniency would have to be shown to the bribe-giver.

Manoj Dhakal

We need both.

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