English Release 27-February 2015
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Prime Minister's Office17-November, 2006 13:56 IST
|PM’S KEY NOTE ADDRESS TO CONFERENCE OF CBI & STATE ANTI-CORRUPTION BUREAUS|
GOVERNMENT TO BRING FORWARD PUBLIC SERVICES BILL: PM
|The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh has announced that the Government proposes to bring forward a Public Services Bill before Parliament, which will define a public services code of ethics and management. It will also protect whistleblowers and have the overall objective of developing public services as a professional, politically neutral, merit based, and accountable instrument for promoting good governance and better delivery of services to all our citizens.
In his Key Note address to the Conference of CBI and State Anti-Corruption Bureaus, here today, Dr. Singh called for a “comprehensive” strategy to reduce the scope for corruption. In this context, he stressed the need for an integrated approach, elimination of discretionary controls, reform of tax system, modernization of justice delivery system. In addition, he underlined the need for reform of public procurement systems, effective utilization of the Right to Information Act, decentralization of administration and the delivery of justice and Public Services Users Associations in ensuring delivery of services without corruption.
The Prime Minister stressed the role of an alert civil society which can mobilize people against corruption. He presented the President’s Police Medals for Distinguished Service on the occasion. The Minister of State for Personnel, National Security Advisor, Principal Secretary to Prime Minister, Cabinet Secretary, Chief Vigilance Commissioner, Secretary, Department of Personnel, Director, CBI, and other dignitaries were present.
Following is the text of the Prime Minster’s address on the occasion:
“I am very happy to have this opportunity to address your biennial conference once again. Let me first extend my heartiest greetings to the recipients of the President’s Police Medals for Distinguished Service, the Police Medals for Meritorious Service and the Gold Medal for the Best Investigating Officer. I commend each of the awardees for their dedication, commitment and devotion to duty. You have set a shining example of outstanding work and sincerity. These medals are but a token of the Government’s gratitude for the good work done in the best interests of our people and our country.
I attach great importance to the work you are all charged with. The questions of good governance, of honesty and of transparency in our system of public administration, have been at the centre of our political discourse for a long time. However, what has changed is the level of tolerance of the people for corruption in our public life and administration.
I was, of course, happy to see that according to one global index of corruption India’s ranking has improved in the past two years. There has been some debate on the veracity of such indices, their relevance in inter-country comparison. However, it is heartening to see that global perceptions about corruption in India are on the mend. But I dare say we have a long way to go and we must all work to get rid of this scourge of corruption which permeates some sections of our public administration.
Corruption is not a new challenge for us. Over four decades ago when Gunnar Myrdal wrote his famous book ‘The Asian Drama’, he identified corruption as one of the constraints on development. He argued that corruption in public life had contributed to the Indian state being a “soft state”, as he put it. The scale, the typology and the mechanisms of corruption may have changed, but the problem of corruption has not gone away.
We did make a major dent on it and reduced the scope for corruption when we abolished the Licence-Permit Raj and reduced the extent of discretionary controls. However, I am aware that many controls remain, and need to be either abolished or made transparent and non-discretionary. Reducing Inspector Raj and making necessary inspections transparent and simple will reduce the scope for corruption. This is why we have taken several steps to end the Inspector Raj and replace it with a transparent system of regulation.
Our Government is also intending to bring forward a Public Services Bill before Parliament. The Bill will define a public services code of ethics and management. It will also protect whistleblowers and have the overall objective of developing public services as a professional, politically neutral, merit based, and accountable instrument for promoting good governance and better delivery of services to all our citizens.
When I recently watched the popular hindi movie, Lage Raho Munnabhai, the one incident that touched me most was the ordeal of a senior citizen trying to get his pension without having to pay a bribe. In stripping his clothes, as an act of protest, this pensioner was stripping our system, exposing the ugly nakedness of the self-aggrandisement of those who man our institutions of governance. Any system in which a retired senior citizen is required to pay a bribe to secure his legitimate dues is a most despicable system. Such corruption must be visited by the sternest action to reform, restructure and rejuvenate the system. The very legitimacy of the State and its various institutions is brought into question by such illegal exercise of power and authority.
In helping the Government deal with this cancer from within, all of you, have an important role to play and I commend the good work that all of you are engaged in. The anti-corruption machinery in the country should create a deterrence against corruption by aggressively pursuing cases of high-level corruption to their logical end. Rapid, fair, and accurate investigation of allegations of corruption against public servants at all levels should remain a priority for you.
However, while punishment may be a deterrent it is not a solution to the problem. Moreover, such deterrence should not discourage public officials from exercising their judgement, taking initiative and showing our ability to take risks at work. Our system of investigation and punishment should not be abrasive and not become an alibi for people to avoid taking initiative in performing their duties. We must learn to make a distinction between an “honest mistake” and deliberate malfeasance. In dealing with a “mistake”, rather than a “wrong-doing”, we should not discourage individual initiative. This is the point I made last time also and I re-emphasise the great importance of evolving systems and procedures whereby those who make honest mistake will not be penalised and we need a system which protects honest mistakes because life in the World that we live in is full of uncertainties. Those who have to take decisions are often not provided with all the data that needs to be made available to them and in this environment honest mistakes are unavoidable and our system of curbing corruption must protect these honest mistakes.
We must, therefore, devise a comprehensive strategy to reduce the scope for corruption, while at the same time providing space for individual initiative and action. I submit to you that such a comprehensive strategy against corruption in public life must address what I consider as the following major issues:
First and foremost, we must recognize the need for an integrated approach to dealing with corruption. Agencies like yours cannot operate in isolation. You must have the resources to take a broader view of individual cases and be able to make a distinction between a “bonafide mistake” and deliberate “wrong-doing”.
Second, we must eliminate all discretionary controls and minimize the scope for discretion in the control and regulatory systems we cannot dispense with.
Third, we must reform our tax system, make it simple and transparent, and ensure moderate rates of taxation that enable widest possible compliance. This remains an area where most citizens encounter corruption.
Fourth, the justice delivery system has to be modernized and made more efficient and speedy. Not only must the guilty be brought to book more speedily, but the innocent must be spared the trauma of delayed justice. The assurance of integrity within the judiciary is itself a deterrent against corruption in public life. Hence, prompt action against corruption in the judiciary, at all levels, is also a necessary element of the battle against corruption in other institutions of the State.
Fifth, the reform of public procurement systems both civil as well as defence, with complete transparency in the tendering processes at all stages with publicly recorded discussions is also an integral element of a comprehensive strategy to fight corruption.
Sixth, the Right to Information Act has to be effectively utilized so that it will not only act as a deterrent but also empower citizens to bring to light any acts of corruption. In fact, non-governmental organizations and concerned groups of citizens can and should use the RTI Act to combat corruption in public life.
I also think that Public Services Users Associations can also play an active role in ensuring delivery of such services without corruption. We need a Citizen’s Charter that states explicitly the Rights of tax payers and consumers of public services. A citizen holding a ration card should be able to secure his entitlement without recourse or resort to corruption.
Seventh, the decentralization of administration and the delivery of justice can help in reducing corruption by making the system more accountable to the people they have to serve. Be it municipal authorities or public utilities, be it school teachers or doctors, whatever the service provider, greater community scrutiny and decentralization of administrative control can act as a deterrent against corruption.
In the final analysis, however, there is no better protection against corruption in public life and in public services than an alert civil society. Our Government has empowered civil society through the Right to Information Act. However, it is public minded individuals, NGOs, and the media who have to take the initiative to mobilize people against corruption.
I hope your conference can come forward with ideas that the Government can pursue in dealing with the cancer of corruption. I wish your conference all success”.
(Release ID :22094)