Corruption in India

A law is only as good as those who are tasked with implementing it.

Editorial August 06, 2011

On just about every matter we are advised to look to our eastern neighbour for inspiration. India, we are told, provides a better model for governance. And certainly that is true to some extent. But the introduction of a new anti-corruption bill in the Lok Sabha is not without its problems. For one, it exempts the sitting prime minister and members of the senior judiciary from the anti-corruption process. Still, the model is one that Pakistan may want to consider adopting. Citizens can approach an ombudsman, who will be a serving judge, with complaints about corruption, including those levelled against ministers and bureaucrats. The ombudsman and his team will then investigate and adjudicate on the matter.

The problem in Pakistan is that access to justice is selective. Corruption charges against serving government officials either slowly make their way through the courts or are heard by the Supreme Court if they decide to take suo motu notice. Providing speedy justice to all becomes a near impossibility. Relying on the Supreme Court’s suo motu powers is no substitute for an orderly process where all concerns can be heard and investigated. But even if we were to adopt an anti-corruption bill similar to India’s, we wouldn’t necessarily be able to ensure that action is taken against officials found corrupt. A law is only as good as those who are tasked with implementing it and in Pakistan there is an unfortunate dearth of judges and police officials who can carry out the intensive investigative work needed to unearth corruption. Also, corruption cases in Pakistan are tackled on the principle of victor’s justice. The National Accountability Bureau set up by Pervez Musharraf and Nawaz Sharif’s Ehtesab Bureau were not too dissimilar from the Indian model. However, these were set up with the express purpose of targeting the rulers’ political enemies. The true test of our ability to fight corruption will take place not when we introduce a bill in the National Assembly but when the government has to investigate itself.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 7th, 2011.


goggi | 12 years ago | Reply

Eradication of vice and corruption was always an Utopian dream, but to become a part of this mighty corrupt system when chance offered, hardly anyone would oppose it!

harkol | 12 years ago | Reply

Corruption in reality is a problem of lack of education & strong middle class. Every nation where voters were more than 60% middle class & fairly educated (literate), have very less corruption at everyday administration level.

This happens largely due to activism of the Middle class, which typically is the conscience keeper of most developed nations. Tragedy of Developing nations like India, China & Pakistan is that the literacy & middle class levels aren't yet at a level that is necessary for them to be deemed developed nations.

No people are corrupt or honest by nature. British officers were far more corrupt than the Mughal officers who preceded them in India. USA had massive corruption and an oligarchy of their own around 1900. The robber baron phenomenon that plagues India was there in USA too.

But, when US made a turn for the better, corruption plummeted. India, China too will go thru this curve.It may take couple of generations for this to happen.

The movement in India against corruption perhaps is the first wave of such Middle class assertions.

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