National Conference on Integrity
Delhi, 19 January 2011: The Foundation for Peace, Harmony and Good Governance organised a day long National Conference on Integrity on 18th January 2011 at Taj Palace Hotel, New Delhi. Eminent Speakers and experts from various walks of life were present during the day deliberating on one of the most burning topics of the day. The conference was Chaired by Mr D R Kaarthikeyan, President, FGG and Former Director CBI. The conference was organised as a part of the Global Steel 2011 initiative being presented by Gujarat NRE and The Economic Times. The recommendations from the conference would be forwarded to the Law Commission of India. Hon’ble Justice P V Reddi, delivered the Valedictory address and had promised to look into all the recommendations and consider the same in the recommendations of Ninth Law Commission.
Highlights of the sessions
We are all products of our system, and unfortunately we are forced to indulge in corruption, how much ever hard we try. How do we overcome this challenge?
Integrity is not restricted to public life alone. It needs to be upheld in private business enterprises, and more importantly in our personal life. Only when we have personal integrity, can it reflect in our profession spheres. Just as charity begins at home, integrity too needs to begin at home. This has been reiterated by most speakers
Our existing laws actively fuel corruption and there is no incentive to encourage integrity. A vast majority of people is labelled as a criminal by the present legal system, which needs to be changed so that they can speak against corruption.
There is also a crying need to bolster the capacity of the investigative agencies. This requires an urgent updating of outdated laws to facilitate better policing. The agencies also require adequate augmentation of human resources, particularly skilled investigators in middle and lower ranks, to help address the huge backlog of cases.
There is severity of laws but there is no certainty of punishment. This only encourages corruption. Also, there is a need to address the people who have the capacity to corrupt. There is also an urgent need to develop a positive vigilance culture.
To stem corruption, two elements are important – one, accountability, and two, increased transparency. The biggest enemy for the state is not an external threat, but rather corruption which is internal and corrosive. Is there a link between corruption and terrorism? Technology is one way to address corruption – as it aims to increase transparency and stall ad hoc and arbitrary bureaucratic behaviour.
There is also a need to make the vigilance oversight bodies independent. At this moment, the vigilance bodies are located within the organisational structure of each of the government agency. This hampers a transparent investigation of allegations raised against the officials in the agency. There is therefore a urgent need for an independent, but single body to oversee corruption.
There is a huge gap between the actual levels of corruption and people’s public perception of corruption. This gap has been created and come about due to the role media has played in highlighting corrupt practices. As the number of media houses has increased, people’s perception on corruption has increased correspondingly. The media is a major actor, and has managed to achieve things in far less time which the government could not do in the last sixty years. It would benefit if the media could take upon itself to address elements of corruption in particular areas – particularly extrotionary corruption which media could choose to work for about six months. The change that this can bring about would be tremendous eventually lead to lessening collusive corruption.
The biggest corruption challenge that the media is facing is the corruption from within. This hardly gets focus on. Since on one is aware of it, no measure has come about to address it. Professional management of media has come down. Combination of business and political interests dominate corruption in media. Most in the media have also learned to live with the privileges and assume that they are entitled to it. Professional bodies which cannot adhere to the codes of conduct have had to face disciplinary actions. However, the same professional commitment and code of conduct has not been applied by the media on itself. There is therefore a serious crisis of integrity within the media.
- Institute a credible Lokpal institution
- RTI should be made as a fundamental right
- Remove political control over investigative agencies and the police
- The largest majority – honest and silent, should unite and ensure they don’t remain silent. They need to be empowered by the laws that are compliant.
- The laws that make the vast majority criminal under constant fear of entrapment need to be revolutionised.
- The need for a second freedom struggle to empower the common man so that he can speak up against corruption without fear of enforcement agencies.
- Amend the CrPC and make registration of crime more user friendly and easy
- Ensure institutions and existing laws that deal with corruption do not contradict; let the corrupt not be asked to investigate his/her own and give a verdict
- Media should play a major role – as a watchdog, but not as a jury – in exposing corruption
- The Press Council should be given more teeth to provide functional oversight
- Promulgate a law to regulate functioning of political parties
- Reclassify crimes so that minor offences could be addressed through plea bargaining
- The shift system of courts has worked in Gujarat. Could that be replicated in other states?