Combating Corruption Through Vigilance Awareness

Dr. Daleep Pandita                                                                                                 Like every year this year too, Government of India and its state governments including their vigilance commissions have issued instructions to their respective departments for celebrating vigilance awareness campaign with full enthusiasm. This period of campaign for the current year has been further downsized from a fortnight to merely a week, presuming that it is sufficient time for generating the desired results. This mere symbolic tokenism for such a short period has been continuing for several years but without sustained efforts all along in the remaining year. Why is it happening time and again and does this short period exercise produce the desired results at ground level which are palpable by the common man or does it remain restricted to papers only?
Normally people give mandate to the governments on these types of important issues of eradication of corruption menace from the society. Addressing this vital issue seriously, assumes the utmost and most urgent importance. Counting on accountable governance, public at large expect result-oriented concrete steps, at least to have mass awareness against this evil, so as to present its deterrent effects rather than to have its punitive results.
Combating corruption by creating sustained public awareness is a campaign where not only government departments but people enmass should play their role for ending up this exercise with great success. Zero tolerance towards corruption is the need of hour, which must be strongly advocated and activated immediately at all levels. Thus, a corruption free environment at ground level will not only reform our administration and society but will build a strong vibrant Nation.
The administration need to be serious in its commitment towards the implementation of anti- corruption measures by regularly sensitising its employees continuously throughout the year. Vigilance departments must be supported with complete infrastructure and equipped with well-trained honest manpower, who are sincerely dedicated towards the cause. Stress must be laid on granting them adequate judicial powers rather than empowering them with vast administrative jurisdiction in order to be result-oriented so that people have faith and confidence in such institutions. At the same time, there is need to have proper check and balance on their functioning, so as not to misuse these agencies for settling personal scores and taking political vendetta. Such credible caretakers must not succumb to undue tactical pressure of their governors for petty benefits by goofing up the facts that send a wrong message to the masses and encourage law breakers.
All related investigative agencies need to identify the seriousness of this malignancy and establish a connect with the people for not only to expose this menace completely at the grass root level but to create sufficient knowledge about its consequences especially among the uneducated and rural poor. Voluntary citizens and non-governmental organisations, who work with limited resources and strive for creating awareness against corruption, need to be encouraged. Sufficient examples of discouraging such front runners by the rulers have been seen in the past, which not only reflect the apathetic attitude of authorities but waste public money and in turn convey the message of inefficient governance.
Before combating corruption, it is also important to understand the genesis of corruption, so as to tackle it more specifically rather than holistically. Normally corruption in our society is perceived to be financial fraud or economic crime. Actually corruption is a much more broader term with a wide ambit and different ramifications. It ranges from intellectual corruption to physical corruption, to sexual corruption, to moral corruption, to social corruption, to religious corruption, to ethnic corruption and to very many other types of corruption, all having negative implications on development and progress of our society. Basically corruption comes into existence either by need or by greed and both these modes are directly related with the mindset of an individual. It is fundamentally connected with moral and ethical values that develop during the upbringing of a person.
Vigilance functioning mainly adopts two approaches in fighting corruption. One aspect is punitive vigilance that deals with creating much needed awareness so as to follow the thumb rule of ” prevention is better than cure “. It not only creates fear in the mind of the corrupt due to the horrible consequences of corruption but also builds morale against their unfair and illegal practices. All actions under this exercise are aimed to create deterrent effect in the mind of a common man that creates a sense of discipline and responsibility in him. This approach is purely educative, informative and propulsive in nature.
The other method is punitive vigilance that provides punishment after committing the crime or acts of commission or omission. It is of reformative type that corrects human aberrations and serves a lesson for others. Having a major drawback that it can be used as a tool for victimization and vindication, it is less encouraged to preventive vigilance in practice.
By way of conclusion, together with the government we need to change our mindset, feel consciously responsible and fight for our rights by creating the much needed vigilance awareness to fight against corruption, in order to rebuild our great India. Compromising with our moral and ethical values by succumbing to our petty gains, in turn destroy us and our nation, which we can- not afford at any cost.

(Author is a columnist and a retired Government of India officer)