Corruption dents India's image, says Manmohan Singh
‘Govt has set up a GoM to explore possible measures to tackle graft’
Just two days after former Union telecom minister A Raja’s arrest, which was a culmination of a series of scandals that damaged the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday used a speech to indicate the government’s determination to fight corruption.
Without directly alluding to the scams that have shaken the UPA and cast doubts on his ability to act decisively against corruption, Singh said “serious concern has been expressed in many responsible circles about the lack of ethical conduct and probity in our public life.”
He admitted: “Corruption strikes at the roots of good governance. It is an impediment to faster growth. It dilutes, if not negates, our efforts at social inclusion. It dents our international image and it demeans us before our own people. This is a challenge which has to be faced frontally, boldly and quickly.”
The prime minister said the government has set up a group of ministers to explore all possible measures, legal or administrative, to tackle corruption.
“Two Bills have already been introduced in Parliament relating to judicial accountability and the protection of whistle blowers. Along with legislation, the necessary revamp of administrative practices and procedures needs to be fast-tracked.
“A systemic response that reduces opportunities for corruption needs to be put in place,” Singh suggested.
“It is now well documented that the introduction of competition, greater choice and modern technology can cut down opportunities for corruption in a very meaningful manner.
“Delays, another major cause, can be addressed to a large extent by effective decentralisation and delegation of power and responsibility.
“All these issues require your wholehearted attention and I have no doubt that if all of us work together we can bring about vast improvements in governance,” he said.
Also addressing the conference, Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions V Narayanasamy said there is a convergence of view that “we need an ethical infrastructure with transparency, accountability and integrity as keystones for good governance.
“In this respect, the Right to Information Act, 2005, has been a major success and is seen as a powerful tool for bringing objectivity and reducing corruption,” he said.
The government has been rattled by a series of scams from the defective procedures in awarding licences for 2G spectrum in 2008 to irregularities in organising Commonwealth Games and the “Adarsh Society” scam. The opposition has also been piling pressure by demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the 2G spectrum scam.