OPINION

Roots of corruption (From an Editorial)

The latest report of the Central Vigilance Commission says that “the temptation to resort to corrupt practices seems to be rather strong even at the senior official levels of the Ministries of Defence, Finance, Departments of Railways, Posts and Telegraphs and Foreign Trade and Supply” and that such practices at the lower level are in a sense endemic in the Railways and the Postal departments. Among those dismissed for official misdemeanour are listed for instance a lieutenant commander, a Barrack and Store officer, an income-tax officer and one Deputy Director of Postal Services, besides a host of other gazetted and non-gazetted officers. That the itching palm is as old as man himself cannot be an excuse for condoning the growing lapses. On the contrary, it should be deemed a forceful reason why a special watch against corruption is necessary. The institution of the Lok Pal and Lokayukta may prove to be only a half-measure. Many of the State Governments are unwilling to appoint their own Lok Pals. Some State Governments have been arguing that these offices are quite unnecessary because Ministers can be hauled up for their failings before the legislature of which they are members, while complaints against officials could be submitted to the appropriate Ministers. But what is happening in Kerala exposes the weakness of this argument. That cases of corruption have been increasing is sufficient proof that the cure does not lie in merely reforming existing grievance procedures.

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