Eminent Indian academic and activist Shekhar Singh tells Ashok Kumar of OneWorld South Asia that the quantum of corruption has gone up with a growing economy, where people have to bribe authorities even to enjoy their legitimate rights.
What do you think is the reason behind rampant corruption in the country?
Corruption in this country is spreading because it has become a high return and low risk activity. Essentially, there is no commitment to wipe out this menace. When a political party starts having a belief that people are both forgetful and forgiving, they tend to think that corruption has ceased to be an issue with the people.
What role can Indian politics play in fighting the scourge of corruption?
We have to ensure that parties recognise that dishonest people are not elected. At present, people vote for parties, therefore even tainted people have a chance of getting elected. It is high time that people start voting for individuals rather than parties. Even at the cost of getting fractured mandates in a couple of elections, the public of this country should vote for honest candidates and bring the issue of corruption to the forefront.
It seems with the growing economy, the quantum of corruption has also gone up. There are cases where people have to bribe authorities even to enjoy their legitimate rights. In ninety-nine percent of such cases, a person indulging in corrupt activities will demand money from the weaker sections.
To what extent is consumerism responsible for thriving corruption in this country?
A very huge amount of consumerism has added another dimension to the issue of corruption. In an economy where a marketing system becomes the basis of economy and the whole objective of the advertising campaigns is to lure more and more people to buy newer commodities, new demand are created.
On the other hand, the economic system does not have the elasticity to enable people to allow one to buy fancy products at will giving rise to a situation which creates further incentive for corruption.
How can the Right to Information Act be used as a weapon to remove the evil of corruption?
I am strongly convinced that the Right to Information Act can become a strong tool in our endeavour to fight the scourge of corruption. Look at Anna Hazare’s movement. Though I don’t agree with many of the objectives put forward by Anna’s movement, it has no doubts given a fantastic momentum in bringing corruption to the centrestage.
If the people are able to carry on the momentum of this awakening, corruption can easily become one of the major issues by the year 2014 when India goes for elections, and parties can certainly start worrying about it.