"Corruption and hypocrisy ought not to be inevitable products of democracy, as they undoubtedly are today." - Mahatma Gandhi
"Corruption is a major cause of poverty as well as a barrier to overcoming it. The two scourges feed off each other, locking their populations in a cycle of misery. Corruption must be vigorously addressed if aid is to make a real difference in freeing people from poverty." - Peter Eigen - Transparency International Chairman
India ties for 88th place with the likes of Armenia, Benin, Bosnia Herzegovenia, Gabon, Iran, Mali, Moldova and Tanzania in Transparency International's recently released 2005 Corruptions Perceptions Index. Compare this to China (also a failing score) at 78th place, but ahead of Pakistan in 144th place.
Prime Minister Manmoham Singh has a major legislative victory in putting forward a piece of legislation much like the American Freedom of Information Act, but with ruthless penalties for government agencies that do not meet the mandate of the law. The Asia Times Online reports:
"The Right to Information Act (RTI) came into force last week, giving Indians the legal right to seek information from government and aiming to curb corruption.
The new law is meant to curb corruption and inefficiency in the government at various levels and covers all central and state administrations, panchayats (traditional village institutions), local bodies and non-governmental organizations that get public funds. Under the act, the authorities are required to respond to queries in as little as 48 hours, if it is a matter of life and liberty.
The law aims to ingrain accountability and transparency in public functioning, as it specifically provides for hefty fines and disciplinary action against erring officials. The act becomes even more relevant as the government has planned a huge employment-generation program estimated to cost more than US$40 billion per year to be implemented at the behest of public functionaries across the country."
If properly implemented, this law can help the ordinary public fight back against rampant corruption by demanding government accountability and breaking the hold of the Indian mafia on contracts, and India can expect to receive larger foreign investments, a better government, and ultimately a higher standard of living.
The Acorn has another interesting piece on legislation in India that seeks to thwart companies using names that appear to be government related.
Time will tell if it is properly inforced.