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Re: Corruption and System

On Sun, 20 Sep 1998 wings@hd1.vsnl.net.in wrote:

> In a previous posting, Sanjeev made an issue that the system should limit
> the possibility and extent of corruption in case the quality of government
> that we had was less than desirable.
> I had made a similar point earlier when I had posted an article titled
> SYSTEMIC CHANGES. Let me offer two illustrations of systemic changes that
> limited corruption in the recent past.
> A few years back it was easily possible for one to bribe a railway clerk and
> obtain a reserved rail ticket. It was the railway clerk who maintained the
> reservation registers manually and he had enormous discretion in allotting
> reserved tickets. Whether you liked it or not, if you wished to travel,
> corruption was required by the system. Since the past few years, bribing of
> the railway reservation clerk has virtually vanished, at least in all major
> towns. This is because the system has changed and his discretion removed.
> Technology - computerisation - has ensured this.
> A decade back, all income tax returns were scrutinised for assessment
> (audited, as the Americans would call it). So, in all cases the tax officer
> had a chance of taking bribes and showing favours. Nowadays, just about 3%
> of the tax returns filed get scrutinised. Admittedly, the number of
> corruption cases has reduced dramatically. This year, the tax department has
> put an embargo on all scrutiny assessments - to achieve other key targets.
> This year, therefore, the tax officers will make money from even fewer
> taxpayers. This is not that the total money turning around in bribery has
> gone down. No, it has increased - but it is from a much smaller number of
> cases and that is the point I wish to make.
> I can go on and offer numerous examples. But these two are enough for now.
> These examples show that when a system is changed to eliminate discretion
> with a bureaucrat or public servant, corruption can simply vanish.
> The reason is simple. Corruption arises out of discretionary powers to grant
> favours. In a system where discretionary powers are vested in bureaucrats,
> corruption is bound to exist. You cannot eliminate it. Nor is it worth while
> trying to urge people to not give bribes and not take bribes.

Srini: Agree 100%. earlier i suggested that Voucher system should be 
followed and every school going child should get it irrespective of the 
school the child attends. the moment you evaluate the standard of the 
school or the income of the parent, we are replaceing one contaminated 
water with the other. We have to make systems simple and 'demandable'. 
The parents should know that there can be NO hitch in getting the 
vouchers but should use his intelligence to make the best use of it. But 
it should be redeemable only by schools. No question of parents using 
that money for groceries or entertainment.

> The solution to eradication of corruption should be two-fold: eliminate the
> possibility of corruption by changing systems and removing discretions;
> establish the rule of law where every offender is brought to book (about
> this later).
> Such systemic changes are possible very widely. In fact, almost all laws and
> regulations are loaded with entirely avoidable discretionary powers vested
> in bureaucrats. There are effective, alternative, non-discretionary, systems
> possible in most instances.
> Changing systems often can be achieved quietly. All it needs is the
> lawmakers to be convinced of it. Quite often this is not all that difficult.
> In any case, it is easier than most other ways of removing corruption.
> What IP should do, according to me, is to work on systemic changes from this
> angle (besides its present task). IP should network with all interested
> groups - chambers of commerce, consumer groups, labour unions etc - and
> promote establishment of non-discretionary systems in all areas of
> governmental operations. Working on systems and getting them changes is
> easier than changing people. And it can be achieved in a few years.
Srini: Yes, we should.

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