Public welfare is the ultimate politics, and good and transparent governance is an appropriate instrument to achieve it. Every year the index of governance is released world wide and also at the national level suggesting which administrative units are the best and which are the worst in the field of governance. Unfortunately, certain states in India continue to top the list of the most corrupt administrative units in the country. Their perpetual ‘legacy’ has remained unhindered till date for the last seven decades.
As a matter of fact, corruption in India is a national phenomenon. But what has been observed is that some states or UTs are always on the front foot of this infamous phenomenon. Jammu & Kashmir also, unfortunately, continues to be among the top states/UTs in this dubious list. Many things in the UT changed over the last seven years in general and in the last a couple of years in particular, but corruption continues to disturb the peace of the common and ordinary citizens. There is virtually no field left in the public administration which hasn’t been affected by this menace.
People of public prominence and position have expressed themselves in context of corruption many a time. We have heard the most talked about phrase in this regard a number of times from very important people in the governments like, ‘there will be zero tolerance against corruption’. It is definitely ear-pleasing for anyone and also expresses a positive resolve of the responsible people in the governments. However, when the facts speak, they provide a different picture.
It was in March 2019 that Justice S.M. Subramaniam of Madras High Court observed that corrupt public servants should be declared “anti-nationals”. Justice SM Subramaniam, in scathing remarks observed that corruption was the greatest enemy of the Constitution and that the judiciary must initiate drastic measures to control corruption in various forms. Noting that bribing public authorities starts right from the child in the mother’s womb, the celebrated judge said, “officials had to be bribed even for getting the benefits of government welfare schemes”.
“They are anti-nationals because they are obstructing the development of this great nation. Terrorists are declared as anti-social elements. Thus, persons corrupt and acting against the developmental activities of our nation are also to be declared as anti-nationals. These anti-nationals do not care about the development of this country but are only interested in their self-development,” Justice added.
“It is painful and unfortunate to state that sexual favours are demanded in lieu of bribe in educational institutions and public offices and what else can be worse than this in public administration,” he said. Coming down heavily on poll-related corruption, the judge said, “these representatives of the people are not only accountable but also responsible for enactment of laws. If they indulge in such corrupt activities like bribing voters, the very foundation of democratic principles is shaken.”
Often speaking, any activity that damages the prospectus of national growth and social peace and tranquillity is considered to be an anti-social activity while those which cause defence and security related risks including damage to the strategic matters of a nation are termed as anti-national acts. Ordinarily an activity of anti-national dimensions are deemed to be seditious in nature and content. Legally all these acts are severely bad in law and invite a punitive action. But an activity of sedition is a very specific class of activity that is taken as a very serious crime against the society and the nation.
Corruption has emerged as an institution of vested interests in the society with very strong roots over the last seven decades in India with the support of the political and bureaucratic echelons. In every deal at the top, either politicians or bureaucracy or both are a party to it. The height of the arguments in its favour as advanced by the silent supporters of corruption is that any corrupt practice at a very lower level too has a connection with the top in the government and the administration. It is because of this notion that the government jobs were considered as a key position by the society to earn bad money by hook or a crook. Historically speaking, prostitution and corruption are the oldest professions of the world. Any society that is worth to be considered as a society of values and morals is supposed to be far away from these two historical vices of the human race. Unfortunately, freedom at midnight in India couldn’t envisage a social framework in which corruption would be considered as a huge immoral and illegal practice by the society.
Moral values flow from the top, usually and they flow like a river from a higher level to a lower level. Jammu and Kashmir was always a pampered state right from 1947 onwards in almost all political and economic spheres. This pampering took a heavy toll and the corrupt practices also got official patronage at all levels. We have come across recently with an interview of the past Governor of J&K, Satyapal Malik, who made a categorical statement about rampant corruption in the erstwhile state. This author in his first interaction with the present Lt. Governor, Manoj Sinha this year heard a frank admission from his excellency about the prevalent corruption in the UT virtually at all levels. Former LG of the UT, G.C.Murmu in one of his addresses to his the then administration in J&K had warned corrupt officers of dire consequences and also reminded them that he had asked for a list of the most corrupt and the deadwood officialdom in the Union Territory. This is the confirmation of the fact that corruption in Jammu and Kashmir is deep rooted and stands spread like a cancer in the society.
Thanks to a number of administrative measures, the selections for various posts through JKSSB and PSC can’t be manipulated now due to a transparent and accountable system. But postings, promotions and transfers of employees are subject to many unlawful inducements. The top administrators prefer to sit on files unless ‘profitable offerings’ are not made. Commission based contracts in virtually every kind of government deal like, construction work, repairs and overhaul of roads and buildings, government supplies, project works and supply of items including food and other consumer durables are considered a normal government and business affair in Jammu and Kashmir.
Though there has been a wide change of perception regarding corruption and corrupt practices among the new generations, yet the old bad ‘legacies and habits’ hold their ground. In Jammu and Kashmir, in order to translate the phrase that ‘there would be zero tolerance against corruption’, a revolutionary methodology requires to be adopted by the government.
In the words of Justice Subramanium, corruption needs to be treated as an anti-national activity in the country. If there is any state or UT that needs a law in this regard very earnestly, it is Jammu and Kashmir. Corruption is surely a form of sedition so far as its short term and long term impact on the state-nation is concerned. It is hoped that the people Incharge, in this regard, in the government of the UT of J&K are listening. Enactment of a competent law of such a nature in J&K is absolutely important, sooner the better.....!
(The author is a senior BJP and KP leader, Incharge, Deptt of Political Feedback, BJP-J&K)
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.