Sunday, 18 September 2011

Ending Corruption - Who really is the weakest (or strongest?) link

Ensuring that corruption is brought down very quickly and very significantly is the need of the hour. I am however unable to understand why the bureaucracy / senior officials and day to day lower level staff are being treated as disjointed entities even though they represent one office or department.

In a public sector bank any corrupt act on the part of the junior-most employee requires explanations not only from the branch head but even those above working in the administrative office on why the senior officials were not vigilant enough and what mandatory or random checks they had conducted – in any case it is invariably a black mark, if not worse on them.

In a government organization the indifference and blind eye of the seniors to what is happening in the office is absolutely unbelievable. In a corrupt office, they can be active participants to the situation by being part of the ladder from top to bottom or, at best, passive participants by allowing corruption below to exist or even flourish.  In any case they gain significantly by continuing to get postings of their choice, by the status they enjoy compounded by their absolute disdain for their juniors, and for the common man. This explains why the general view is that departments which are pure administrative in nature are perceived to be more corrupt than say departments which offer more specialized services e.g. Railways, Delhi Metro, Government Hospitals etc..

It is not adequate to determine whether a “Group A” officer is personally corrupt or not. It is essential that he /she is also held accountable for lack of vigilance on what is happening below.  This aspect does not appear to have been considered in the Lokpal Bill.

Recently the newspapers reported that FIR has been filed against some DDA officials in the Siri Fort CWG Project. But why is no action being taken against the top man or woman in DDA.  Is it not his/her responsibility to ensure that non-corrupt practices are being followed in the organisation and that he / she has exercised due diligence, been vigilant, conducted random / mandatory checks? That the Head has not turned a blind eye to the happenings, has not shown total indifference and apathy to what is happening in the office?

Perhaps the first step in bringing down corruption would be to hold the Head accountable whether for malafides or for gross and repeated negligence towards what is happening below.

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