Monday 23 Jul 2018 | 10:18 | SYDNEY
Monday 23 Jul 2018 | 10:18 | SYDNEY

India needs a national corruption free day

28 April 2011 14:35

Vinod Daniel is the Chairman of AusHeritage, Australia and a Visiting Fellow at the Lowy Institute in Sydney.

Seventy two year old social activist Kisan Baburao Hazare (better known as Anna Hazare) has done well over the past few weeks to mobilise public support and send an anti-corruption political message resulting in possibly stronger anti-corruption legislations through the Indian parliament.

I have been spending a considerable amount of time over the past six months in India. A fortnight back, I got sucked into a political conversation with a small group who I have never met before (and will not recognise if I meet them again) outside one of the government registration offices in Chennai.

Two of the five were DMK party supporters and the other three were AIADMK party supporters. The AIADMK party supporters were blaming the DMK party of corruption based on Raja and the 2G spectrum issue.

 I gently pointed out the hypocrisy of this corruption argument since all five people involved in this political discussion were document registration brokers and just at the moment they were involved with facilitating a registration process for somebody's property with money transactions that was many times the required registration fees.

There was a nervous smile and the argument suddenly turned to this being a minor level of corruption compared to the tens of millions involved in the Raja case. The issue was no longer corruption but the magnitude of corruption!

Similarly, a month back in Jaipur our rental car driver disobeyed a policeman and was stopped. Unfortunately he had forgotten his licence at home and a hundred rupee transaction quickly got him back on the road (I must say all of us in the car were relieved since we were rushing to a meeting and did not comment to the driver about what he did).

In both these cases it is not the law that has failed, but the general publics attitude that this is acceptable in saving time and in the second case a larger fine.

Changing this attitude is what will change corruption in a grass roots level.

Maybe having one day designated as a 'National Corruption Free Day' may get people to realise that change starts with them and their attitude towards corruption rather than expecting the legal system to have all the answers.

As one very senior Judge (now retired) mentioned to me over lunch a couple of years back 'It is not the legal system that is at fault, it is what comes before the legal system that needs to be strengthened. Any legal system can only judge by the evidence that comes before it'.

Photo by Flickr user watchsmart.