Tackling Corruption

  • Corruption in India has assumed crisis proportions; it's scale and spread have increased significantly, especially during the last two decades. A notable feature regarding this has been a mutually reinforcing collusion between the political and bureaucratic levels. And, at each of these levels corruption has seeped to the top echelons in the Central and State governments. The malaise, however, isn't confined merely to the executive arm of the government; it has afflicted legislators, the judiciary, the media and also the independent professions.
  • Though there exist a high level of expressed concern on the scale, pervasiveness and consequences of corruption, there has been no effort to translate it into effective action. The daunting nature of the problem tends to generate a feeling of helplessness and apathy. This, in turn, is often rationalised in terms of cynicism or in arguments that tend to acquiesce in corruption.
  • Large and sweeping solutions for the control of corruption has been suggested; fundamental changes in the constitution, thoroughgoing deregulation and privatisation of the economy, large scale decentralisation of governmental activities and emphasis on moral values and character. While each of these approaches has its values and validity, they all have their limitations in terms of scope and feasibility. We cannot rely on them as effective mechanisms.


Such reforms will need to be addressed to the legal, institutional and structural aspects of the problem, covering medium and longer term aspects. The proposals addressing these issues will have to be reasonably comprehensive, given its ramification and manifestations over several levels, sectors and transactions in public administration. In particular, the political bureaucratic nexus in corruption will have to be taken into account. The attack on corruption will also have to be viewed in a wider context of administrative reforms. In this perspective, the exercise will have to deal with what can be broadly classified as the preventive, punitive and promotional aspects of the problem. 

Preventive aspects will include electoral reforms, especially in the matter of campaign finance; an optimal balance between the roles of the state and the market involving appropriate deregulation and privatization, curtailing the role for discretion in governmental decisions; decentralized governance strengthening transparency and accountability. The punitive aspect will consist of strengthening laws, rules and mechanisms for the effective detection, pursuit, punishment and deterrence of corruption. The promotional aspect will involve the encouragement of value-based politics and administration, respect for laws and a culture of compliance with them.