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Kalam moots idea of independent commission against corruption
November 16, 2006 15:45 IST
Terming corruption as a matter of serious concern, President A P J Abdul Kalam on Thursday favoured the setting up of an independent commission comprising officials from various government agencies for the strict enforcement of stringent laws to counter the menace.
"Corruption is the concern of our society, our youth, of course government also. I believe a mission mode approach in elimination of corruption is essential. I am going to advocate (this) to my government," Kalam said.
He was speaking at the Central Bureau of Investigation's 16th biennial conference of anti-corruption and vigilance bureaus of the country.
"The system can have convergence of all agencies to take decisions and execute (them). The idea only struck me a few days ago and I am working on it," he said.
Kalam said the idea came to him when he was surfing the internet to find a corruption-free country.
"I learnt about Hong Kong's experience. Hong Kong, 40 years back, has been described as though it were what India is today. But now, Hong Kong is free from corruption. I was told that this has (happened) through their action of establishing a powerful independent commission against corruption," the President said.
"The independent commission worked on a three-pronged approach, by strict enforcement of stringent laws, prevention of corruption and community participation against corruption through continuous education. This has resulted in virtual elimination of corruption in less than 10 years," he said.
Kalam said he was studying this example and its suitability for application in the Indian environment.
Terming corruption as a 'dreadful malady' afflicting the society, Kalam said, "It should pain every citizen's heart when he reads his country's name included in the list of those blackened by the existence of this evil."
"Unfortunately, corruption has permeated all walks of life in our society and what is more disconcerting is the fact that it does not seem to abate as years go by and worse still, to a large extent, it has been taken for granted as a fact of life," Kalam said.
"The society can progress only when it upholds, nurtures and enriches eternal values in which honesty and integrity assume a primary position. Dishonesty and corruption cancerously eat out the life of the society," he said.
Recalling the famous quotation that honesty is the best policy, Kalam said, "It is unfortunate that apparently many of us seem to seriously think that honesty is the best policy only if money is in it."
Hinting at the need for decreasing government control to combat corruption, Kalam said, "In spite of severe constraints, our youth have excelled in the knowledge domain and shown phenomenal growth in the information, communication and technology sector employing over one million people and have achieved the revenue target of $ 36 billion in 2005."
"This gives us an idea that wherever there is independence to perform, we have performed well whereas wherever we have created a large amount of dependency through complex policies, procedures and subsidies, our performance has been stunted and transparency diminishes," he concluded.
The President said there is a need to introspect on this dependency syndrome, 'which we have created'.
"We need to remove these dependencies systematically and allow people to perform in a competitive environment in the global market. This will involve re-formulation of policies and procedures prevalent in the legislature, executive and judiciary keeping in mind the changing scenario of the world, challenges to be faced by the economic sector in the global competitive environment and meeting the aspirations of the people in providing a higher quality of life," Kalam said.
He said the investigation system had to build up its capacity in such a way that any crime committed against India or its assets by anyone from anywhere in the world could be detected.
Kalam said services like police, land administration, special services, municipal services and income tax have been found to be key problem areas.
"Personnel working in these departments must be provided with reasonable housing and transportation facilities including empowerment in their task. They should become accountable for services to be provided to citizens and also be penalised for wrong decisions," he said.
Kalam said if police action, court proceedings with minimal adjournments and fast judgements are provided within the prescribed timeframe, corruption could be ended in the country.
Welcoming the President, CBI Director Vijay Shanker said, "Corruption in our country has shown remarkable resilience against our efforts to banish it. We, therefore, have to make all-round reforms in governance, industry and other services to formulate sound public policies."