Corruption is a subjective term. It is not an absolute term. For example, if i (as part of the Govt) make a law that says from tomorrow all earnings on a salary greater than Rs 10 Lacs a year will be subject to a wealth tax of 95%. How many people would rush to somehow save as much money as possible. They would possibly even make sure a part of one’s package above that amount is transferred to some Banks abroad. Or for some reason the Govt declares a 300% custom duty on Gold. How many people who know the coast lines are ‘leaky’ would be tempted to start a parallel business in bringing Gold from the Middle East or elsewhere to Indian shores. Obviously the nexus of these ‘criminals’ would extend slowly to Cops and Politicians soon, all at the expense of the common man.
Both the above are not hypothetical examples. They happened in India post Independence. Large sums of money left Indian shores more because of rank regressive laws than because Indian people are inherently corrupt. Simply put, Government laws made honest people corrupt almost overnight, not the other way as the Govt would have us to believe that people are inherently corrupt. It is with this in mind, any Anti Corruption movement would have to be rooted in not making corruption some absolute value to be avoided in itself, but in context with laws the Govt mandates for political, populist expediency that compel honest sets of citizens scrambling to either send money outside or to evade tax.
Anna Hazare’s Anti Corruption movement’s biggest fundamental flaw is/ was in treating Corruption as a Moral Absolute. This attracted a large amount of well wishing people that were fed up of low level corruption that one typically finds in Government institutions, whether one applies for a passport, a ration card or any kind of license or certificate. It also attracted the wrong kind of people who became their intellectual icons and leaders. The Left liberal variety. The very kind whose rhetoric pushed laws like 300% Gold duty and 97% wealth tax above a certain salary. The very kind whose rhetoric made laws that made honest people take money out of the country and invest it elsewhere.
The other big fundamental flaw in the anti-corruption movement led by Mr Hazare was focusing on the ‘Punitive’ aspect much more than on reviewing laws, increasing transparency and removing discretionary powers from the hands of Ministers. To be fair most or almost all the scams exposed in the last few years were not done by Tehelka type Media, or Arnab/ Sagarika type journalism, or the CBI but ironically were exposed by a Government Institution, the CAG! Yet the entire spectrum of Anti Corruption ideologues focused singularly on CBI (part of the Punitive organ of GoI) and Judiciary. The focus though should have been on improving the Audit procedures and experience. Ajit the Filmi villain of the 70’s made his career depicting the archetypal Gold smuggler and the Vinod Khanna, Amitabh Bacchans the angry men that heaped punitive damage on the smugglers. Yet amazingly in real life, it was an official single line notification in the early 90’s that reduced gold smuggling and Foreign exchange black markets such that doing business in the black market for Gold and Foreign exchange became an untenable business preposition.
The focus on the wrong solutions to curb corruption occurred because of these fundamental flaws of approach, particularly assuming Corruption as some Moral absolute. These fundamental flaws attracted a brand of Left Liberal Marxists that ironically were the very reason why corruption bloomed in India. The very variety that believed in handouts and subsidies. The core primary reason why corruption in our state flourishes. These would be the type that would garner popularity and at a point of opportune time would make a political bid for power. Nothing could be more dangerous for both removing the reasons for corruption to exist, but also for the strategic security of the country. The trajectory that Anna put out to fight corruption lies only through a massive ombudsman that will have to be initiated at every city, district, town, village level. All will be massively expensive on the exchequer. With due time large pensions will be extracted. With due time favors and quota’s for becoming part of this additional bureaucracy will be the norm. Money and opportunity will continue to flee India as the ombudsman too becomes part of the left liberal marxist set up. When that happens obviously the founding fathers of the movement will deny this was the desired result. It may not be the desired result, but it is the inevitable result of the inherent fundamental flaws.
Another aspect is with undue stress on the Punitive aspect of curbing ‘corruption’; a large scale policy paralysis, a hesitation to make a decision for investment or even policy will set in. This will massively delay infrastructure development, setting up of entrepreneurial faculties and business in the country. For a country that injects 20 million youth into the job market each year, we need to be creating a million small companies each employing an average 20 people every year! We do not do that if we scare business away with regressive laws and governing concepts and ethics. The very kind of leadership the movement is attracting (the Marxist left kind) is completely opposed to business and does little to allow conditions for entrepreneurs to flourish. Subsidies and welfare will suffer if opportunities do not exist. They will remain rhetorical slogans for this lot to wreak havoc once again in our Nation. We stand to lose for generations if we do not understand these inherent flaws in approaching corruption today.
The eagerness to address the Punitive aspect rather than the Transparency and Discretionary power aspect that results in Corruption is a basic flaw in the movement and a lot of it’s present believers. With stress on punitive aspects and little on transparency corruption will surely reduce, but the State will have to resemble a North Korea: Massive punishments for bribery and such, but next to nil on the transparency index. When the Transparency and Discretionary power aspects are addressed, the resultant reduction in corruption is holistic and real. It’s measures synchronous to democratic and pluralist mechanisms.
It is in that sense the legacy that Anna’s movement engenders will be taken over by the very kind of people that made this scale of corruption and Government apathy possible. The Aam Aadmi Party reflects that aspect of the movements immaturity in addressing the core issues, despite it’s manifest honest intentions.