Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday batted for strong action to check "dynastic corruption", saying it has become a part of the political culture in some states and is hollowing out the country like termites.
Inaugurating a three-day national conference on vigilance and anti-corruption organised by the Central Bureau of Investigation, the prime minister said that inaction in a single corruption case forms the foundation for future scams.
"Dynastic corruption (bhrashtachaar ka vanshwaad), as in corruption carried forward from one generation to another, has grown over decades to become a formidable challenge before the country," he said.
"During the past decades, we have seen that when one generation of corrupt people is not punished adequately, its subsequent generations indulge in corruption with more impunity," the prime minister said.
"Because of this, it has become a part of the political culture in some states. Corruption running through generations and the dynasty of corruption are hollowing out the country like termites," Modi said.
His remarks came ahead of the first phase of voting in the Bihar assembly election, where the Bharatiya Janata Party-Janata Dal-United alliance has been targeting Tejashwi Yadav, the chief ministerial candidate of 'Mahagathbandhan', over corruption cases against his jailed father and RJD leader Lalu Prasad.
If suitable action is not taken in corruption cases, it becomes normalised in society, the prime minister said.
When a generation sees that a corrupt person in the family is let off without or very little punishment, their courage to indulge in corrupt activities grows manifolds, he said.
"People know, the media knows that a person has made crores of rupees through corrupt means, but they also start taking it normally.
"This situation is a major obstacle in the growth of the country. It is a hindrance to a prosperous and self-dependent India," he said.
The prime minister said corruption is not a standalone issue as economic offences, drugs, money laundering, terrorism and terror funding are all inter linked.
"We need to have systemic checks, effective audits and capacity building and training against corruption in a holistic approach. There needs to be synergy and cooperative spirit among different agencies fighting corruption," he said.
Poor people bear the brunt of corruption, Modi said, but added that now the people are getting 100 percent benefits because of direct benefit transfers and the government has saved Rs 1.78 lakh crore because of the scheme.
The country has left behind the era of scams of thousands of crores that went on for decades and has marched forward, he said, asserting that his government has zero tolerance for corruption.
He said over 1,500 unnecessary laws have been repealed since 2014 and processes have been eased as people have been given digital options to fulfil their routine tasks like bill payments etc.
"The government should be present only where it is needed as per requirement. People should neither feel pressure of the government nor its absence," the prime minister said.
Modi stressed that preventive action against corruption is more important than punitive action. "An assault on practices which give the scope of corruption is a must," he said.
During the conference, senior officials of the government, including the home secretary, the comptroller and auditor general, and the finance secretary, will discuss crucial issues related to investigation challenges in foreign jurisdiction, matters linked to vigilance and corruption, amendments in Prevention of Corruption Act among others.
The national conference organised by the CBI coincides with the 'Vigilance Awareness Week', which is observed in the country annually from October 27 to November 2.
"Activities in this conference would be focused on vigilance issues aimed at raising awareness and reaffirming India's commitment to the promotion of integrity and probity in public life through citizen participation," a government statement said.