CORRUPTION AMID PANDEMIC…?

What could be more unfortunate for the people of the World’s largest democracy than the fact that Corruption Perception Index (CPI) which has released a list of 180 most corrupt countries ranking India as the 81st most corrupt country in the world. While the nation was already confronted with major problems including hunger despite having achieved self sufficiency, ignorance despite massive education and diseases despite great strides in medical science, now the main focus continues to be on fight against Corona virus. Though looking to the swelling number of COVID-19 patients day by day, one feels scared about the situation in coming time, yet India has responded much better than most of the nations across the world as has been acknowledged even by the WHO. The timely action and initiatives in India have borne fine results that stand substantiated by the fact that the death rate due to COVID-19 continues to be below three percent and recovery rate being about sixty four percent as on date in India besides the human trial of COVID-19 vaccine beginning at AIIMS today. Just as corruption affects other sectors, it has the potential of impacting even the crucial fight against COVID-19. In the current scenario of unprecedented urgency various equipments including ventilators and other medical supplies are highly valuable, thus raising the probability of corruption and organized crime being resorted to by various vested interests. Since few COVID-19 related corruption cases have already surfaced across the nation, therefore in such a situation an unprecedented vigilance and security is direly needed. COVID-19 is so all-encompassing that even governments with the highest capacity around the globe are today struggling to respond at pace in all areas. Under compulsion bad decisions are being made, corners are being cut and regulations are being sidelined. Moreover, contracts are being given out without competitive tenders or due-diligence checks. Ironically all these factors create opportunities for corruption to thrive. While the government is devotedly on the job in this fight against corruption amid the dreadful pandemic, it is time for the people at individual as well as community level to realize the urgency to be proactive in conducting themselves in such a way that there is no room for the canker of corruption not only during the current crisis but for all times to come. It is hoped that all the stakeholders in the Indian society come forward taking a relentless and strong stance against corrupt practices as the priority response to the ongoing pandemic. This has to be fully augmented by adopting Anti-corruption procedures, systems of accountability and transparency in order to ensure that medical or other aid definitely reaches those who need it the most besides leaving no scope for excessive profiteering and black marketing. After all, the wave of corruption-related incidents linked to the current pandemic situation underscores the importance of continuing vigorous efforts towards strengthening transparency and accountability for which e-governance is the best tool.