Pranab Bardhan, Professor of Graduate School, Department of Economics, University of California, Berkeley, on Friday said the level of corruption increased in India in the post-liberalisation period owing to increased value of public resources such as land and minerals in the market and mounting election expenses.

Speaking at the 9th VKRV Rao Memorial Lecture at the Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC) here, Prof. Bardhan said corruption had been usually related to regulations and bureaucratic discretion. The level of corruption had increased in the post-reform era in India due to sharp increase in the prices of public resources such as coal and other minerals in the market due to higher economic growth. “The political allocation of these public resources leads to more corruption.”

Speaking on “Corruption: when preaching piety is not enough”, the economist, who authored nearly two dozen books, said corruption happened due to under-pricing and diversion of public goods such as foodgrains, diesel, kerosene and LPG meant for domestic purposes.

Noting loopholes in the proposed Jan Lok Pal Bill advocated by the anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare and other activists, he said “Jan Lok Pal will become another super bureaucratic institution”.

The country needed independent agencies and the CBI had been used to serve political ends of the ruling party at the Centre, he argued.

Prof. Bardhan, who wrote extensively on corruption, said “corruption involves a set of complex and occasionally paradoxical issues that cannot be resolved by simplistic pious slogans.”

Hegde differs

The former Lokayuka N. Santosh Hegde, who was the chief guest, differed on couple of issues with Prof. Bardhan said the Jan Lok Pal would not become a super bureaucratic structure if the UPA Government passed the proposed Bill in Parliament. The independent institution would help to control corruption. “It is impossible to remove corruption totally from society,” he said.

Noting various scams at the Central level in recent times, he said: “All of us not born as human beings. There are many inhuman beings in society and therefore corruption continue to exist at all levels.”

He said: “On account of corruption in public hospitals, many patients who go to hospitals vertically return horizontally.” C.T. Kurien, member, Board of Governors, ISEC, presided. R.S. Deshpande, director, ISEC, welcomed. Infosys founder N.R. Narayana Murthy and several former IAS officers attended the function.

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