How to manage Corruption in India

I remember an anecdote which happened more than twenty years ago. I was working as an accountant for a small firm which shall remain unnamed. I had taken over my responsibilities and had been working there for about a couple of months when the proprietor spoke to me and said:-

“I had to pay a bribe of about Rs 40,000/- to get my Income Tax assessment order passed. The paperwork for that year (under assessment) was not in order. I wish I could have paid you that money instead of to that tax official. But because of the faulty paperwork I need to do this.”

Bear in mind that this was in the early 1990s when Rs 40,000/- was a large sum and it was about my entire salary for that one year.

My boss, the proprietor did not like paying bribes but was forced to do so. Ultimately he was interested in getting his assessment order passed. As long as he got that work done he did not mind putting up with faulty paperwork.

I thought to myself at that time, “My salary is linked to the bribes paid to the ITOs. If the tax official is honest and insists on your paying a higher tax if your papers are not in order then it makes sense for my boss to pay a higher salary and insist on quality work from his accounting staff.”

According to the discoveries of Quantum Physics the Universe is an interconnected interdependent organic whole. This is similar to the concept of the Universe of Eastern Religions. The Mahayana Buddhist and Hindu traditions regard the Universe as One.

This means that an act by one part of the Universe (the tax officials) will affect another part of the Universe (the salaried accountant).

Corruption in India is a chain. The root cause of corruption and why people in positions of power put up with corruption is that money is required by political parties to fight elections.

There are elections going on in India every year. There are Panchayat elections, Municipal elections, State elections and General elections. Candidates and political parties need money to fight them. I have no idea of the exact sum but it is definitely tens of thousands of crores of rupees and may be even hundreds of thousands of crores.

Obviously the political parties and candidates will want to fund these elections and if they have spent their own money they will want to recoup their investment. And the way to do that is corruption.

My boss paid a bribe to the tax official. Almost certainly the tax official on his part had to pay a bribe to be appointed to his post. The tax official was not working purely for public welfare. He needed to make money or at the very least recover the investment he had made to be appointed to his post. And this chain starts with the problem of needing money to fight elections as stated above.

How can you explain otherwise why successive governments tolerate corruption and do nothing about it? There have been no Civil or Criminal justice systems reforms for ages. Although justice delayed is justice denied there are only around 21,000 judges in the entire country of more than 1.25 billion people.

We need to deal with the problem of electoral funding which is linked to corruption. If the problem cannot be solved then we need to manage it and mitigate and reduce the ill effects to whatever extent possible. One way to reduce the amount of money required to fund elections is by having one common elections at one time every 5 years in the entire country for all the various posts – starting with Panchayats and going all the way up to the Prime Minister.

The NDA government has mooted this proposal for discussion and I am all in favour of it. I hope this proposal is implemented.

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