Corruption and the Crisis of Governance in India |

Corruption and the Crisis of Governance in India

20110926_C-Raj-Kumar_05On 26 September 2011, Professor C. Raj Kumar, Vice Chancellor of Jindal Global University in India, gave a lunch talk entitled “Corruption and the Crisis of Governance in India” at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. Kumar addressed the implications of corruption on India’s institutions and remedies to tackle them.

Kumar said that despite the presence of strong democratic institutions, the rule of law has failed to prevail. India has put in a good deal of effort to fight corruption by setting up specialised bodies, but “they are run by corrupt law-enforcement agencies”, making anti-corruption measures difficult to implement, he said.

Highlighting new policies to fight corruption, Kumar mentioned India’s recent enactment of “direct accountability” legislation aimed at assessing public officials’ performance. If officials failed to deal with customers’ queries within a specified time, they would be subjected to fines and other disciplinary action. Nevertheless, corruption has not faded away and its effects are mainly borne by the poor, marginalising them further. Because of their lack of knowledge, the poor are often intimidated and taken advantage of at various bureaucratic levels across the country. As such, it is not the poor but the middle classes that who have become the main driving force in the fight against corruption.

Touching on the evolution of corruption in India, Kumar said it used to be confined within the political classes but today it has penetrated the country’s judiciary as well. Recent impeachment cases by parliament of some key members of the judiciary are cases in point. Kumar also applauded the increasingly active role of the media in exposing malpractices and subjecting civil servants to greater scrutiny. 

Kumar described how privatisation has helped to eliminate endemic corruption in India’s railway and telecommunication industries by creating transparency and efficiency, and said privatisation could be a viable option for the government which still controls a sizable chunk of various corruption-ridden industries.

“There is a real danger for the fight against corruption to be undermined,” Kumar remarked, adding that it was crucial for India to introduce far-reaching policies, one of which could be enactment of a witness protection law. India also needed to create an independent anti-corruption panel along the lines of countries such as Singapore and South Korea.

Kumar is sceptical that law and institutions alone will solve the problem. Apart from radically reforming bureaucracies and introducing changes in the country’s electoral system, the key is to raise people’s awareness and understanding of corruption and its threat to the fundamental well-being of society.

 

By Uran Bolush, a first-year MPP student at the LKY School.

 
Synopsis:

The talk will outline the problem of corruption in India, which has affected all institutions of Indian democracy leading to a crisis in governance. It will discuss the significance of corruption in India, the approaches adopted and the measures initiated by the government in responding to the crisis. The talk will critically examine some of the recent developments, including legislative, judicial, institutional and civil society initiatives in the fight against corruption. The relationship between elimination corruption to promote good governance, establishing a society based on the rule of law and the protection and promotion of human rights will be discussed. The presentation will draw upon some comparative experiences in dealing with corruption and to what extent Indian government and the society is ready and willing to take tangible measures to reduce and ultimately eliminate corruption. Issues relating to transparency in governance, accountability in administration, development of integrity systems, whistleblower protection law and the larger need for creating trust between the citizen and the state will form the central aspects of the talk.

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Speaker(s):

Professor Dr. C. Raj Kumar, Vice Chancellor of O.P. Jindal Global University, India

Date:
Monday, 26 September 2011
Time:
12.15 p.m. - 1.30 p.m.
Venue:

Seminar Room 2-2
Level 2, Manasseh Meyer
Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy
469C Bukit Timah Road
Singapore 259772

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