Having figured along the frontlines of India Against Corruption movement, retired judge of the Supreme Court and former Karnataka Lok Ayukta, Santosh Hegde, warned that the future of the country was bleak unless the system was revamped. Youngsters, he said, had to come into clean the system.

Mr. Hegde was addressing students at the Loyola school in Thiruvananthapuram on the ‘The role of Indian youth in democracy,’ following which he proceeded to the Asian School of Business to speak on the same subject. His visit was jointly organised by the Asian School of Business and Young Indians. During the interactive session at Loyola, he consistently advised students to abandon cynicism and to show commitment to promoting a democratic polity as it was intended to be.

The retired judge said he had crossed 500 visits to educational institutions across the country, and this figure did not include prize-distribution ceremonies but just the lectures he had held. He told students that if they entered politics, they should do so “with a clear thought that you are getting to serve the people and not to make a profession out of it.”

He cited the example of a Member of Parliament taking offence to an excerpt of a letter by anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare. It read as, “Honourable Prime Minister, do not forget that you are a public servant.” Mr. Hegde said the MP’s reaction was utterly absurd as everyone, right from the President to a government official at the lowest-level, were public servants as underlined by the Indian Constitution.

“The greatest qualification that the one in power has is that they got elected by the people,” said Mr. Hegde, emphasising that the concept of equality had to be featured in a polity that was supposed to be premised upon democratic principles. It was unfortunate to think that some were privileged among politicians simply because they had occupied a big office and were surrounded by security guards. This arrogance of power was a major problem, highlighted the retired Lok Ayukta, who was instrumental in bringing to light the corruption in coal-mining in Karnataka.

During his address at the ASB, he also said that corruption had taken away the resources that should have legitimately been available for development. “From 1948 to 2012, India has lost Rs.9 crore crore and had this money been distributed among all the villags in India, each would have got Rs.126 crore,” Mr. Hegde said.