A decay has set into the present system of democracy in this country. It has to be changed by effecting a change in people’s attitude to political governance, according to N. Santosh Hegde, former judge of the Supreme Court.

“This change,” he said, “cannot be brought about by my generation. It has to come from the present youth who must not take the widespread corruption in the system lying down.”

He was addressing a session on ‘The role of Indian youth in democracy’ organised in Madurai on Monday by Madurai Chapter of Young Indians (Yi), a body of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) that provides a platform for young Indians to work towards the development of the nation.

Elaborating on his point, he said that the country was faced with such a decline in public standards that a Member of the Parliament took objection to the Prime Minister being termed as a ‘public servant’ even though the Constitution stated that all government employees including the President of India were public servants.

The elected representatives who had won despite having got only a quarter of the votes in their constituency think of themselves as leaders and above the people. However, he pointed out that on January 26, 1950, the Constitution was adopted on behalf of the people.

“The very first line of the Constitution is ‘We, the people of India …’ Yet, there has been a fall in democratic standards over the years.” Corruption had grown exponential over the years from Rs. 64 crore in Bofors scam in 1986 to Rs. 1.76 lakh crore in the 2G scam in 2010. A developing country like India could not afford this corruption.

Mr. Hegde also pointed to a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report which stated that of the lakhs and crores of rupees given to the States by Centre for various social welfare projects, Rs. 51,000 crore was missing in one financial year alone.

Speaking earlier, Karumuttu T. Kannan, past chairman of CII (Southern Region), said that at a time when many developed countries were experiencing a decline in population, India was enjoying a surging youth population of 400 million. However, the value system they were being exposed to was not good.

Hema Sathish, co-chair, Yi Madurai Chapter; Mridula Ramesh, co-chair (learning); K. Thiagarajan, chair (learning); and M. Raghu Ram, chair, spoke.

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