Governor of Rajasthan Margaret Alva on Monday called upon politicians to take credible steps to ensure financial transparency in the functioning of political parties, government institutions and private business houses.

“By turning a blind eye to this problem, I am afraid, we are weakening the very foundations of democracy,” she said while addressing a gathering at a lecture organised by the Kanara Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI).

Speaking on “issues and challenges in the next decade and way ahead” Ms. Alva said that the non-government organisations must make their functioning, including funding, transparent. “If we are to improve our system of governance, we have to work towards transparency in public life across the board,” she said.

The Governor said that corruption would continue to pose a huge challenge to public life in India. “The challenge, to my mind, is not just allegations of corruption, but our collective failure to initiate credible steps to stem corruption.”

She said that there was evidence of corruption affecting polity, bureaucracy and sometimes in sections of the judiciary too. One of the fountains of corruption in polity was electoral funding.

She said major political parties recently closed ranks to keep themselves out of the ambit of the Right to Information Act. Mahatma Gandhi rebuked his son for having a little extra sugar at an ashram. Gandhiji went on to term his son’s conduct as ‘gross’ misuse of money contributed by the people, in sacred trust, for the freedom struggle. “This is a legendary example of the most severe financial accountability in political life.”

Referring to poverty she said that according to the Planning Commission about 22 per cent of Indians lived below the poverty line. Absolute poverty was likely to persist for some time, she said. The Governor regretted that social, religious and sectarian tensions were deepening in the country. “This is a great threat to social harmony that can derail, years, or rather decades, of work in the development sphere.”

She said that educational institutes should impart skills to students and not produce “paper graduates”. “Enhancement of human skills is a gigantic challenge.”

Referring to the youth coming to the streets over various issues she said that the “seething unease among youth should be contained and they are properly directed.”

She said that the youth could be the force of development if they were properly directed.

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