Says a new order of citizenry is emerging in the country

A new order of citizenry is emerging in the country that is demanding a moral and ethical framework within which the political executive must function, Comptroller and Auditor General of India, Vinod Rai, said here on Saturday.

Delivering the first T. Narasimhan Memorial Lecture on ‘Good governance and public accountability,’ under the auspices of the Chennai chapter of the Institute of Public Auditors of India, Mr. Rai said 2012 saw the emergence of the new order of citizens in the country who proved that the “silent majority” was a thing of the past.

“As the Indian democracy ages, the Indian nation is getting younger. Our median age today is 25 years … that is a good 15 years younger than the median age in the U.S. And it is this young citizenry that is holding government to account and is seeking transparency in policy formulation.”

The CAG said the political executive and the administration would have to contend with the new order. The urban middle-class, hitherto reduced to being mere consumers in the eyes of the political class, had started mobilising themselves politically. This was the same class of people who had at most indulged in living room discussions and had even taken pride in not voting, but were now taking to the streets with anger and demands.

“Good governance is not the sole responsibility of government alone,” Mr. Rai added. “It is a requirement of corporate India too.” He cited how the Satyam scandal debunked the myth of accountability in corporate India.

Stating that the vibrant democracy of India cannot thrive in an atmosphere where there is a “deficit of ethics,” the CAG said: “The conventional wisdom of good governance has been premised on the edifice that governments are architectured, dedicated and determined to ensure probity and accountability. Time has come when this conventional wisdom will have to be tempered to ensure that the edifice withstands public scrutiny. Citizens have to participate to ensure that this edifice stands.”

N. Ram, Director of Kasturi and Sons Ltd, who presided over the function, said the office of CAG had been criticised by various sections for its inhibiting effect on decision-making and being a paralysing factor. “If the inhibiting effect is on bad and corrupt decisions, then let it have a paralysing effect before the decisions inflict damage on the country.”

On the occasion, trustees of the T. Narasimhan Memorial Endowment Trust brought out a book comprising a compilation of articles written by Narasimhan, a retired officer of the Indian Audit and Accounts service, who served as Accountant General of four states – Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. He joined the IA & AS in 1946, held various positions as a government auditor.

After his retirement, he contributed various articles for The Hindu. He passed away in March last year.