Thursday, April 14, 2011

IITians in Canada & Corruption !!

It was quite a glorifying tweet from the_hindu that praised IITians. It read, "IITians in Canada observe day-long fast for Anna Hazare #Lokpal".

My first reaction was 'What are they doing in Canada after India sponsored their education."

Isn't that corruption? Isn't a collective and selfish action towards siphoning off of taxpayers' money? The politicians use tax payer's money to build swiss bank accounts. These IITians settled abroad use tax payers' money to build bank balances in US, Canada and other developed countries. They are worse than the politicians, as they even pay taxes to those developed Governments, and help in building education infrastructure there. What a sorry irony!

Since 1953, nearly twenty-five thousand IITians have settled in the USA alone. Although the trend has been on the down-slide, the reason is neither a healthy conscience nor patroitism. The reason is lower earning prospect in the US and higher earning potential in India.

Dreaming of higher income and success is neither criminal nor immoral, however we should pay for the opportunity cost. We should pay for the higher income potential made possible by the IITs. The Govt should enable a process for the IITians to repay the Government subsidies that they enjoyed while studying in IITs.

The last word is that corruption can range from IITians going abroad to 2G scam involving crores. It would be foolish to rally against corruption by politicians alone. The need is to create a better conscience right through primary education.

Additionally, we have to put processes for better accountability, making it difficult for the opportunists to siphon off tax payers' money. We should also create an environment of predictable punitive punishment to discourage misuse of tax payers money.

The Lokpal Bill should aim to do the same. More than vigilance, the Lokpal Bill has to be futuristic and pragmatic to create an environment of a healthy conscience against corruption, an environment of accountability and predictable penalty.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ending Corruption - the Corporate way!

Corruption is quite a funny phenomenon. We all know it is evil, yet we all do it knowingly or un-knowingly. With Anna Hazare and the Lokpal bill, it was quite a week of discussing corruption and civil activism.

For me, it was a week of intense reading of opinions in every newspaper and on twitter. One of the tweet said, "rallying against corruption is actually rallying against the symptom & not the cause"

So what is the cause of corruption?

Is it in our culture to think of our own selves? In Hinduism, the ultimate aim is to achieve personal Nirvana/Moksh. We dont speak about the community achieving Nirvana. Does that make us think about ourselves, rather than the civil society? Krishna in Mahabharata corrupted Arjun to think that the end is important than the means. Does that have any implication?We dont think before honking. We dont think before throwing a chips packet out of the car window. We cut lanes without thinking about the other cars. We dont think twice before dirtying the Holy Ganga. We dont think before dishing out a 100 rupees note to the traffic policeman for jumping the red light.

We evade taxes. I have seen individuals preferring to donate lakhs of rupees to a temple, rather than pay taxes. The thought perhaps is that donation may help achieve moksh, but taxes would not benefit directly.

All these human behaviours lead me to think that corruption kind of runs in our blood. And there are only two ways that I can think of curbing corruption.

The first is to put emphasis on primary education to develop a conscience against corruption and easy money (short cuts). Young minds develop as per what they are taught. Moral science as a subject should be made compulsory till class X. The syllabus should be developed by experienced behavioural scientists with an intention to develop a positive conscience against corruption.

The second is to learn from corporate management policies. Corruption is minimal in the corporate world among employees. The reason is perhaps the accounting procedures followed in every department and the deterrant that 'careers would get over if caught doing corruption'.

So both accountable processes and a genuine predictability of punitive action prevents corruption in the corporate world. We need to work towards achieving accountability at every Govt. offices. We need to strengthen the police and judicial processes for better predictability of punitive action.

A watchdog like the Lokpal bill can only do the bare minimum.