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Dedicated to “Bharat” and “Dharma”

Politics & Corruption: Here’s how to “fix the system”

Or more accurately, how to begin fixing the system.

Some of you may have read my recent comments (here and here) in which I mentioned about writing a post on corruption. Two days ago, in an amazing coincidence, I received an email from Sanjeev on this very issue.

In the email, Sanjeev wrote,

“…my only concern would be that the initiatives cited (eg. the zero value rupee, 15% commission to Ghaziabad municipality, etc.) are likely to be cosmetic and unsustainable.

India needs systematic reforms of its governance, of the sort covered in my book. That is, in my view, the only long term solution.

My recent TOI article (on reforming the bureaucracy) is part of the attack we need to launch against corruption. Here are the responses I received….If you’d like to, I particularly recommend a relatively short chapter 5 entitled, “An analysis of political corruption in India“.

I read the chapter yesterday and I was stunned by the clarity of Sanjeev’s arguments and his insightful analysis.

Sanjeev’s basic contention is “socialist policies have created the opportunities for corruption in India, and our flawed electoral system design (which forces 99% of our candidates to get huge amounts of black money and to liaise with the mafia while contesting elections) creates the incentives for corruption. Governance reforms are therefore needed at both levels – to reduce opportunities, and to eliminate the incentives”

If you think of yourself as a concerned citizen of India – or someone who loves India and wishes it well, please do read it IN FULL Chapter 5 An analysis of political corruption in India.

But for those of you pressed for time, below is a summary of the chapter, including Sanjiv’s diagnosis�and his suggestions for reform.

No doubt I have lost a lot of flavour and punch in condensing an 18-pg document in a few bullet points; Hence the request to everyone to read the article full.


The Situation Today aka The Rot in the System

  1. Our society and political system has failed to throw up outstanding leaders of stature, intellect and probity
  2. Whatever else we may be today, we are definitely not a role model for anyone in the world on ethical standards
  3. The kind of people our system attracts are power- and money-hungry individuals “who are not reflective on their use of power, unaware of the concept of freedom, and unwilling to listen to expert policy advice or innovations designed to create a great India. “
  4. We therefore experience a depressingly corrupt and ineffective democracy in India where the qualifications for being given a ‘ticket’ to contest elections are: possession of a modest intellect, capped with serious moral defects, and�(a) the ability to play fast and loose with public money, (b) close association with genuine, mafia-type criminals and (c) ability to threaten honest candidates to prevent them from contesting elections.
  5. Unless we “build systems that will attract some of our best people to run for government…we are destined to perpetual mediocrity; perhaps much worse. “

The root of the current malaise is: “There are also so many compulsions for dishonesty built into our electoral system that good people simply aren’t interested in representing us.”


The Barrriers and Compulsions that prevent good people from joining Politics

  • There is no reason to be honest
  • On the contrary it “hurts” to be honest; The system makes it financially punitive to do so and keeps prudent people out of the process (unless they are willing to compromise their integrity and honesty)
  • The low salaries (Rs 12k per month for an MP) keep the competent away from participating in the process

The underlying issues are:
a] the artificial (and ridiculously low) limit on electoral spending (Rs 25 Lakhs)
b] the routine violation of this limit
c] the lack of accountability and consequences of such a violation


The Remedies

  1. Raise the wages of MPs and MLAs, at least by a factor of ten; probably more, while getting rid of all of their ‘perks’.
  2. Ensure state funding for elections
  3. Dismantle election expense limits (that are routinely breached); instead have very strong audit systems with severe penalties for violations
  4. Initiate a wider set of reforms of the electoral system e.g. making public the property returns of our representatives

For those of you who wish to read more, the entire book is available for download (for free) on Sanjeev‘s website.

I would encourage you to do that…but above all, I would humbly request everyone reading this to drop a short note to Sanjeev (or leave a comment here) appreciating his work and effort.

Sanjeev: I hope this generates some discussion and thought. As you said, this needs wider publicity and wider discussion. Unless we all agree on the “need” for reform, change will be hard to come by.

Sharon and Pragya: I hope this triggers some thought and you find the time to read Sanjeev’s chapter in full.

Breaking Free of Nehru

Related Posts:

Do we deserve the politicians we get?

How to earn Rs 50 crores in 5 years

End big-time corruption? I dont think so

Corruption in Public Life: Are we the only ones?

BPD, BM, LP: Light at the end of the tunnel? and Why don’t “Good People” join “Politics”?

September 14th, 2007 Posted by | Corruption in India, Current Affairs, Featured, Politics and Governance, Politics and Governance in India | 27 comments


  1. Hi Shantanu. Took your recommendation and read Sanjeev’s entire book. I have written a short critique of it in my blog www. karmayogini.blogspot.com.

    Check it out and tell me what you think

    Comment by Subadra Venkatesh | September 14, 2007

  2. Subadra: Thanks. I will definitely have a look at your critique.

    Thanks also for the separate comment on BM/LP. There is a lot more that needs to be done…Hopefully we will get there – someday. I will write a more thoughtful comment over the weekend.

    Comment by B Shantanu | September 14, 2007

  3. Shantanu, I am most impressed with your effort AND TALENT. I am very familiar with Sanjeev’s thought process, and have read both his books (the other one being Brief History of Freedom) in their early drafts. You have conveyed his theme beautifully in a few precise words.

    Jai Dharma is performing a Great Role. I am becoming very optimistic now that the effort being put in by you (truly herculean if I may add), and several others, will gradually bear fruit in the coming years and help India propel towards Its rightful place amongst the most developed economies and cultures of the world.

    Comment by Suresh Anand | September 14, 2007

  4. @ Subadra: I had a quick look at your review of Sanjeev’s book (and also Sanjeev’s response). I broadly agree with the points you have made especially with regards affirmative action, Uniform Civil Code.

    I have also read Sanjeev’s response …and I believe that we have positions on these issues that are closer than they might appear to be- which means there is hope for a broader consensus.

    The one issue on which I am strongly in favour of your position is the reference to secession in Sanjeev’s book.

    Since I agree with your concerns, instead of highlighting them once again, let me, instead, examine Sanjeev’s response to it.

    I can understand where Sanjeev is coming from – but I am afraid the idea is utopian – for where does one stop? At what point does it become unfeasible to let further sub-division happen.

    Sanjeev suggests that “the approach of democratic secession will always have the opposite effect” – I am not so sure. The underlying assumption about the maturity of people – and their respect for core values and freedom of thought is difficult to substantiate – one certainly does not see that in the discourses and discussions on these issues in India and I cannot think of any current political leaders who has the maturity and the vision to engage in this discussion.

    I am afraid that in the current scneario, if people are allowed to splinter, they will find plenty of “leaders” willing to lead them in doing just that.

    The benchmark is high – but it is the principle which I (and I think you too, Subadra) find dangerous. Finally, the caveat of “Violence from the proponents of the new state will nullify the referendum� is difficult to enforce – and leaves on on a slippery slope.

    I have not read more about the example in Canada – so I will not comment on it…but will await further comments from you and Sanjeev


    @ Suresh: Thanks for your kind words, encouragement and support.

    It is words like these that keep me going (and I am sure Sanjeev too)…We do what we can…In the long run, even this is too little and does not go far enough…there will be a time when we will have to take things to the next stage.

    Until then, this goes on.

    Comment by B Shantanu | September 16, 2007

  5. Shantanu,

    I have not been able to read Sanjeev’s book completely. Since the discussion thread is on fixing the political corruption in India, I have the following observations based on the gist that you have presented here:

    The first one relates to:
    5. Unless we build systems that will attract some of our best people to run for governmentwe are destined to perpetual mediocrity; perhaps much worse.

    What do we mean by best people to run the government? If people like Sanjeev, Gopal Krishna and many others prefer to follow the escape route, this goal seems rather unachievable.

    It is like Na nau man tel hoga, na Radha nachegi

    I would rather prefer the Edward De Bono way of changing the system from within. I agree that the challenge is as daunting as changing a punctured wheel without stopping the fast moving car.

    While I broadly agree with Sanjeevs approach on electoral reforms, we also need to look at handling the much deeper rooted corruption in the forms of Chai-Panee in government offices and a Rs 100/- note to a traffic policeman. In that regard, I would disagree that the other approaches (Rs 0. note and the move by MCG) are just of a cosmetic value and hence unsustainable.

    I think one formula is not enough to cure the disease. There is a need for a broad-spectrum antibiotic. For that we need multiple initiatives like the ones cited above at various levels. People from computer systems background would appreciate that to achieve the desired results we need to hot-fix as well as cold-fix the system. The beauty of hot-fixes is they can be easily achieved without bringing the system to a halt, right?

    Comment by Pragya | September 18, 2007

  6. Pragya: I will let Sanjeev and Gopal answer how they hope to change the system by being removed from it.

    I liked your simile of a flat tyre and a speeding car – very apt!

    As regards the deep seated corruption (the chai-pani which you talk about), Sanjeev has a separate chapter devoted to bureaucratic reform (I think it is No. 7) but I agree with you that we need a broad spectrum of approaches.

    I dont think I am qualified to comment on “hot” or “cold-fixes”…My awareness of computer systems & IT is embarrasingly inadequate – I can just about type !!

    Comment by B Shantanu | September 19, 2007

  7. Thank you Sanjeev and Shantanu for going through the review.

    Yes , I think we are all in agreement on tossing out socialism completely. Let the government get on with the task of protecting the public good and refraining from making bread, cloth, steel and other commodities. The government should probably also get out of higher education and focus only on primary (K-12) schools in underserved areas.

    The few differences of opinion I have with Sanjeev are the following:

    1. While the idea of each group within a nation being ruled by their own set of laws (according to their religious beliefs) sounds ideal, it is far from so. Embracing multiculturalism to this extent is really quite suicidal. (Please take a look at what is happening in England where a substantial portion of the Muslim population wants everyone to live by the Sharia laws. ) I truly believe that without a Uniform Civil Code, we are endangering ourselves to being splintered further.

    2. The idea of people willingly living together in harmony with no force is something that the United States has now, in the 21st century. Please let us remember that they fought a civil war in order to do soit was not automatic. Thus, allowing any group to secede from the Republic will cause further problems for India. India will, in fact, cease to exist.

    3. The third difference of opinion lies with the very notion of public property and land. Who does the land of India belong to? Does it merely belong to those who squat on it, or does it belong to all Indians? Do the waters of the Ganges belong to me also as an Indian, or do they only belong to those in Benares or wherever the Ganges flows? Do the North-eastern states also belong to you and me or only to the people living there and to more than a few illegal immigrants from Bangladesh? How all Indians answer these questions will determine if India remains intact in the future.

    Comment by Subadra Venkatesh | September 19, 2007

  8. Sorry for getting away from the topic of corruption. Getting back to it, I noticed in Sanjeev’s book most of the suggestions on removing corruption from our government focused on improving remuneration to people in government bureaucracy and providing incentives etc. I don’t know that government officials are that underpaid when compared to the private sector. Let us not compare their positions to those in the IT industry which is more highly compensated than other industries.

    In addition, his book did not focus on the punitive measures that could be used to curb corruption. Indians are corrupt because they can be. The system punishes neither the giver nor receiver of bribes. A stiff jail sentence for both parties might do the trick. In the book “Tipping Point”, the author discusses how the crime rate in New York City declined because the police decided to punish every small crime. This sent a powerful message to the rest of the population.

    Thus, in India , if we start punishing even the small corruption cases, we might find both the public and government officials less inclined to taking bribes etc.

    Comment by Subadra Venkatesh | September 19, 2007

  9. Thanks for the reply, Shantanu.

    Btw, the credit for the anology of flat tyre goes to Mr. Ashish Basu of NIIT. He used it in one of his mentoring sessions.

    The hot and cold-fixes are very simple concepts (am sure you know them). Cold fixes require the running system to be brought to a standstill whereas hot-fixes could be done while the system is running. Obviously, the former are more expensive and time consuming to implement. The hot-fixes are low risk and relatively easy :-) to implement. And they need not be cosmetic always .

    They help you fix systems incrementally and slowly rather than following a big-bang approach.

    Comment by Pragya | September 19, 2007

  10. Shantanu,

    Re: I will let Sanjeev and Gopal answer how they hope to change the system by being removed from it.

    How about others?? :-). Will they not care to answer?

    My concern is if good people leave saying that they are leaving becuase there aren’t enough good people in the system. How can they propose solutions for getting good people? Sounds like a paradox to me..(confused)

    Comment by Pragya | September 19, 2007

  11. Subadra and Pragya: Thanks for the additional comments. I will respond to them in a day or two.

    Comment by B Shantanu | September 20, 2007

  12. Dear All

    The ongoing interest in my (draft) manuscript is really appreciated.

    I’ve already responded at some length to Subadra’s concerns on her blog and will do some more work on the manuscript in its current revision to take up these issues.

    Three small points here:
    a) Re: punitive solutions: I have indicated clearly somewhere in the manuscript hat the current system does not punish – WILL not punish – the corrupt. For everyone from the top to the bottom is in league with the corrupt. As a crusader against corruption (among other things) in my 18 years within the service, I found that all the corrupt escaped punishment because corrupt senior officers, corrupt Ministers, and corrupt judges let their corrupt brethren escape.

    In the alternative governance system I have proposed, there is no tenure and even the whiff of corruption against the senior officers can lead to their termination. Surely we dont’ want a notional law for punishing the corrupt. We want to actually punish the corrupt, don’t we? How many more years will it take for us to realise that punishments can only be imparted within an honest system.

    Incrementalism doesn’t work here at all, as it won’t work in almost all other cases I have covered in my book. I think those who want incrementalism in India are largely wasting their lives. I have no plans to continue my incremental approaches I have already trialled for 18 years in the civil service and don’t propose to spend another 18 years fiddling while Rome burns. Either India wants to seriously change for the better, or I must stay out of its future. There is a time for small things and then there is a time for big things.

    b) My solutions are not all linked to remuneration. They are linked to balancing the incentives of bureaucrats and politicians. Getting rid of tenure of senior officers, and state funding of elections, as an illustration, are not remuneration based solutions. There are a huge number of other, non-remuneration based, solutions in my book.

    c) Re: ‘good’ people leaving India. I claim that there are at least 1500 good people still in India who can and should come together on an agreed platform and advance the messages of freedom and good governance. Not all good people have left India (only a small proportion of them have left) and many (presumably ‘good’) people like me can readily come back to contribute if there is a real demand for good governance in India.

    Just a few years ago (2003-2005) I spent a huge amount of my time and effort in kick-starting a national political party which was reasonably successful, but which then derailed for reasons I won’t go into here. That I am now an Australian citizen (and an overseas Indian citizen) should not prevent a future India from giving me dual citizenship.

    I have decided I won’t relinquish my Australian citizenship now that I have taken it, for I have come to love this country too much for me to do that. These are fun loving people who work very hard and always strive to be the world’s best. No shallow boasting about ‘Mera Bharat Mahaan’. These guys are never satisfied by being number 2. They are the kind of people who I want to to see in India, and if India won’t change, I’d rather live the rest of my life with them.

    But my heart still remains in India for I know its potential is infinitely high. I am sure with full dual citizenship being given to people, things can shift for contributions from people like me.

    But it is time for me to get back to revising my book! Thanks for all your comments. I’d appreciate if you can circulate the link to the book more widely and get people to send feedback to me at sabhlok AT yahoo DOT com.



    Comment by Sanjeev Sabhlok | September 22, 2007

  13. @ Subadra:
    Thanks for the follow-up comment. My position is identical to yours re. the UCC and secession as I mentioned above (Comment #4).

    As re. your question, Who does this land belong to?, do have a look at this post: http://satyameva-jayate.org/2007/09/22/india-breaking-read-and-weep/

    As regards corruption, my sympathies are with Sanjeev. I believe a systemic overhaul is necessary and it has to start at the top at the level of political leadership. It was for this reason that I extracted this chapter from Sanjeevs book rather than the one dealing with the issue of corruption in administration (and amongst government officials).

    Yes, punitive measures are essential but as Sanjeev points out “punishments can only be imparted within an honest system.”


    @ Pragya: Thanks for your comments. I mentioned Gopal and Sanjeev simply because I could not speak on their behalf.

    You ask what about others?

    I believe good (as in honest & having integrity) and capable people will join politics only if they see some hope for change

    At the moment, the disillusionment is so complete that most people do not even think about this possibility.

    The second reason why most people do not enter politics is that the present system does not offer any chances of a serious career unless one is (i) very very wealthy or (ii) open to alternative ways of making money via rewards, favours, kickbacks, commissions etc.

    Unless we have a reasonable number of people who have done well for themselves (in a straight, honest way) and are willing to devote the rest of their productive lives to the cause of their country, we will not have critical mass.

    The other reason for not having critical mass is that even if there are a small number of people who wish to do something, they are mostly working in isolation, and are not networked and in most cases not even aware of each others work.

    Unless that changes, we may never achieve critical mass.

    So is there no room for hope?

    I believe there is. Why?

    For several reasons.

    First the growing success of the Indian diaspora in the developed economies of the West means that there is slowly emerging a generation of Indians who are vastly well off as compared to the average Indian and yet have made their money/fortune in a straightforward, honest, above-board manner.

    Two, thanks to new media and technologies, it is today possible with minimal resources and relative ease to try and bring people together on a platform.

    Three, there is a demographic shift in the population (with half the population being under 30) which will help change. The young are most open to change and also the most willing to take a chance.

    So I believe there is hopehowever things are not going to change overnight. This is going to be a long haul and there will be several failures and disappointments along the way but if one persists, I thing change can come…change will come.

    Until that happens, we (Sanjeev, Gopal, others) need help, encouragement, support and continued engagement.

    The fact that Sanjeev gave up in 2005 is an opportunity lost for Bharat. The fact that Gopal is thinking of coming back in 2009 is cause for hope.

    @ Sanjeev:

    Thanks for following up with your comment.

    At some point I would really like to understand your experience between 2003 2005 and share it with everyone here.

    I am sure there is a lot we can learn from it although it may be painful for you to recall.

    And I hope someday we will have you back as an Indian citizen!


    All: Please continue this dialogue and forward the link to others you know – friends, acquaintances everyone…this is a subject of vital national importance.

    It will determine our, India’s future.

    Comment by B Shantanu | September 23, 2007

  14. Hi ,

    I always wanted to contribute my part to any reforms to fight against the political corruption.
    Could the reforms be started by a mere citizen? Not a beauracratic level which may be difficult to impossible.

    The people of India should first understand the most common instances of corruption. And simple ways to fight against that. That may be the first step.

    Comment by Sai | November 13, 2007

  15. Dear Sir,
    Coruption is a global phenemenon and because even the smallest of actions in India meet with retribution it has reached such gigantic proportions. It is sad to note that we are loking at the outside for the solutions when we are the problem!
    Corruption is not all that difficult to handle if we put our mind to it. We encourage corruption because we would like get things done easily without exerting ourselves.
    Let us consider an example. Let us take the case of driving thru a no entry. The worst offenders are the Government vehicles! What do we do if we get caught? We try a little request, then beg, then try to throw our weight around and if that also does not work we take out our purse. Now why is that? let us not break the law in the first place and then we will not be the dilemma that we face every time.
    This is a very simple case. One of the greatest opportunities for the netas to make money was the regime established by our “visonary PM”! Licences! Licences! and Licences for everything and everybody. It was this law that created this Cancer of the concept of corruption.
    Most of the laws that are in effect in India were devised by the British to rule over the colonials and not for the betterment of the nation. The Indian Bureaucrat had all the priveleges and he did not want to rock the boat. He had his salary, his perks and authority and he never encouraged the netas, whom they were supposed to advise and guide to to adopt to the new growth and development policies of the world.
    They were enconsed safely in their Ivory towers, enjoyed the power and priveleges and let the country to rot. Salary and perks were of no consequence to them as their slightest wish was an order for the minions to serve them as otherwise they could tease a person to death.
    They continue to sustain the laws as devised by the rulers of India! and as times went by as India gained Independence and freedom when the thinking grew the bureaucrats sold their powers to the highest bidder and held on to the power.
    Corruption per se can be reduced if we as Indians are willing to put our minds and effort together and as a first stage do not break laws for our convenoence. Even small things like cutting a red light, going thru a one way, not parking in no parking area not paying THAT EXTRA for that first day first show, or paying THAT EXTRA to get tickets in the train as we took a decision just at that moment to go on a holiday etc. small things will lead to a mighty opportunity. Only drops of water will grow into a flood!
    Why blame outside things for every mishap of ours including corruption.
    I am reminded of a story which I read. An old wise mule owmed by a old farmer fell into a disused well in the farm. The old farmer tried his level best to get the mule out but all his efforts failed. He then called his neighbours and even their efforts failed. He then decided that as the mule was old and will be of no use to him in a very short while and the well was also disused, he will hit two birds with one stone! he decided to put dirt into the well, in which case the mule will also be buried and he will save a bullet! and the well will also be filled up in the process!!
    As the farmer started to fill in the dirt, the Mule found that the dirt was falling all round him and over him and he started shaking himself to get the dirt of himself and lo and behold!! what was happening every shovel load which fell on the mule and around the mule found the ground rising!!! The Mule kept shaking and finally he found himself on th rim of the well and he jumped out of the well.
    What is the moral of the story. If we keep doing small things like following simple laws at first, and the Bureaucrats start applying their minds at amending laws in very small ways and not throwing their weight around in very small ways, even like not using the red light on the roof of their car slowly India can peep at a better future and in can be what Shakespere has said :All’s well that End’s well.
    All that I have stated is easily said than done, but an effort can be made even by some of us who participate in this blog and make a beginning. We are on a long haul, but as the Chinese saying goes, ” A Thousand mile journey begins with first step”.

    Comment by v.c.krishnan | November 15, 2007

  16. nice

    Comment by Sumanta Sarkar | March 24, 2008

  17. Worth thinking about:

    A corrupt nation cannot be rich: CK Prahalad
    Suman Layak, Hindustan Times, May 08, 2008

    “…And at the end of Fridays address and during the open session Prahalad stressed that India must fight corruption if it wanted to get where it wants to.

    The professor of strategy at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, quoted data to show that there is a heavy co-relation between corruption and a low position in the human development index and, finally, the wealth created in a nation.

    Corrupt nations do not develop their human resources. Without that you cannot create wealth or become a rich nation, he said.

    There are 170 districts in this country now where there is no rule of law. You can find them between Nepal and Telangana. It is the result of bad governance and nothing else, he said.

    …Prahalad said India seemed to have gone into a collective paralysis over corruption and spreading information and education was the only way to fight it.”

    Comment by B Shantanu | May 11, 2008

  18. @ Shantanu: just a correction w.r.t. corporates excemptions of income tax to political party.

    As per Section 293A of the Companies Act (1956), a private Indian company/association/firm/corporation can contribute to a political party or for political purpose an amount not exceeding 5% of its net profit averaged over the immediate three preceding financial years. The entire such contribution is exempt from income tax.

    And it is mandatory for a political party to report:

    As per 29C of The Representation of People Act (1951), all contributions (individual or corporate) made in excess of twenty thousand rupees have to be reported to the Election Commission

    Comment by Mahesh Patil | August 16, 2008

  19. Some excerpts relevant to this discussion from Trust vote as a turning point by N. Vittal

    …Three points were highlighted by the trust vote exercise:

    Democracy involves a lot of money and there is a close interplay between money power and political power;

    Equally important is the display of inefficiency and impotence of the government agencies, especially those connected with tax collections, that have allowed a free flow of unaccounted black money in the system.

    The support from criminals who were elected MPs and who were released from jail to participate in the vote.

    But merely taking note of these points is not enough. Can anything be done to change the situation? If so, by whom?

    1] Political fund-raising

    Let us remove all restrictions on individuals and corporates on donation of funds to political parties. The only condition must be that both the donors and recipients must account for this in their records and disclose the same to the tax authorities. As of now, only contributions by individuals to political parties are tax free. The same concession may be extended to corporate donations also.

    …In the interest of conducting free and fair elections, the Election Commission can take the lead, using its powers. NGOs can help mobilise public opinion, as happened in the case of candidates declaring their wealth and criminal records.

    2] Black money

    We may next consider the problem of black money. The money power in politics, highlighted by the trust vote, shows the relative slackness and lack of interest of our tax authorities in checking black money. I had a sad experience of this as Central Vigilance Commissioner when, on March 13, 2001, a tehelka.com sting operation was telecast on many TV channels. A contractor, Mr Jain, was shown claiming that he had made a profit of Rs 1 crore on a Defence contract.

    On March 15, 2001, I wrote a letter to the Revenue Secretary and the Chairman, Central Board of Direct Taxes, asking them whether this profit amount was declared in the tax return of Mr Jain and, if not, was any raid on him contemplated. I was shocked that neither of the two dignitaries responded to my letter and the matter was given a quiet burial.

    The recent display on TV channels of currency notes worth Rs 1 crore being held up in Parliament should have alerted the tax authorities to study how such a large amount of money was mobilised and check if it was legally accounted income or black money. So far, there is no report of such action.

    …The trust vote can be a turning point for better governance if the authorities redouble their efforts to unearth black money and follow the audit trail sincerely. The forest of exemptions in the Income-Tax Act must be removed. There must be no income-tax on individual income up to Rs 5 lakh per annum. Any amount above Rs 5 lakh should be taxed at a uniform rate of 20 per cent. This will check black money generation and increase the government’s tax revenue.

    3] Criminal MPs

    Now, the issue of criminalisation of politics. One simple method to check this is to amend the Representation of People Act in such a way that any candidate against whom a criminal charge-sheet is framed in a court of law should not be permitted to contest the election till his name is cleared by the court.

    Unfortunately, the inordinate delay in the disposal of criminal cases enables the tainted candidates to contest and become MPs or MLAs. Law-breaking criminals enter politics to gain power and use the same power to protect themselves.

    To remedy the situation, the suggested amendments to the criminal law to bar candidates who are facing criminal charge-sheets in courts of law from contesting elections would be really effective.

    If the bar is introduced, the very criminal candidates will ensure that their cases are decided faster and that the judicial system moves faster. The delay in the criminal justice process helps only the criminals….

    (The author, a former IAS officer, has held the posts of Chairman, Telecom Commission and Central Vigilance Commissioner.

    Comment by B Shantanu | August 16, 2008

  20. Check this link


    Comment by Sanjay | October 30, 2008

  21. I am highly impressed by the initiative…and WE NEED IT.
    We are taught to be opportunistic with the current system.
    Moral values are to be taught to others that they can be duped…..
    Let the common be blinded by the veil of morality and let us
    bend or break the rules for our own vested interest….
    this what is implied by every politician and so called the
    elite of my country.
    on the basis of my experience ….
    Moral people can only make a system run efficiently .
    It is very laudable if one can gather a group of spririted people to come together for such a noble cause…
    But the real challenge lies whether they would be able to retain their sanctity…
    I feel disappointed by the state of any affairs in this country leave alone politics…what about the corporates and so called the common man…
    I have seen the most common man making equal contribution
    to this chaos and mess…
    Truth can never be democratic. that ‘s why democracy has failed us and would continue to do unless morality is revived among us……
    My personal belief is that..
    The political system is highly misleading.
    These measure may help
    problem : politics has become a carrier!
    sol: No one can contest a form of election more than twice.
    Problem: the term of five years becomes a safe haven for corrupt and criminals and commission earners.
    sol : make a separate ministry or a permanent body.
    that will hold elections is shorter durations thereby eliminating any chance of politics a livelihood.
    representation was required when the telecommunication was not developed , we no longer need any representation going beyond more than a few months.
    prob: illiteracy leading to populist politics.
    SOL : A system built where a higher educated person having a higher importance thereby not marginalising the educated and the scholar class.
    prob: The representation concept is completely pseudo and
    Sol: There should be referendum on major issues..thereby clearing any possibility of misrepresentation.
    representatives should have the opportunity of framing the bills and not passing it (major ones) like amendment is the constitution, war)..people should have the power to bring down a bill…
    These are few of my thought .
    I believe that Empowerment of the masses is the only solution. implementing tis can ..definitely build a better India even if not a utopia…
    DEMOCRACY is by the people, for the people ,by the people


    Comment by themonkwhosoldhisferrari | April 20, 2009

  22. Mr & Mrs Amar Singh


    Comment by Rohit | October 16, 2009

  23. Shantanu,

    I am getting disillusioned with FTI Team, there is no out of the box thinking.. I am afraid FTI is going to become one of those also ran cases..

    I have seen many such groups coming and going for over last 15 years..

    What remedies are suggested here are merely small improvements where as what we need are drastic changes. Realities are different in India which you will not without going to villages. There are well entrenched sections of Indian societies which are actually playing roll of British of preIndependence era, who are unwilling to give up tpower.

    I am suggesting you only one step that can bring improvement surpassing any other change:

    Just make internal elections compulsory to elect the official candidate of a political party.

    There are many other steps that can be practically taken, but India needs a different approach to democracy..

    I am still awaiting your detailed observation to a document sent to you..



    Comment by Milind Kotwal | October 5, 2010

  24. Milind: Thank you for the comments…Yes, I have your document in my (now growing) list of things to respond to…Hopefully should be able to do that in the next 2-3 weeks (last few days have been v intense work-wise). Thanks for your patience.

    Comment by B Shantanu | October 5, 2010

  25. If these allegations are proved to be true, here’s another news of a cop behaving badly:

    Comment by Kaffir | October 5, 2010

  26. Corruption plays abysmal role in our country India and we all need to stand together to eradicate corruption from bottom of the root.“Corruption is one of the most damaging consequences of poor governance.It undermines investment and economic growth, decreases the resources available for human development goals, deepens the extent of poverty,subverts the judicial system, and undermines the legitimacy of the state. In fact, when corruption becomes entrenched, it can devastate the entire economic, political, and social fabric of a country…corruption breeds corruption – and a failure to combat it effectively can lead to an era of entrenched corruption”.In countries where corruption is successfully controlled, there is greater inflow of foreign investments, higher per capita income growth, higher literacy rate and increased business growth . Hence, eradicating corruption inevitably helps further poverty eradication and economic development.Corruption destroys the Progress of a Nation. Many individuals who are honest become day today victims of this act. Politicians and his henchmen are responsible for this act of Corruption.
    How can we collectively ” STOP CORRUPTION in Public Life”. How can we make India a Corruption Free Country.main thing is our entire Govt department such as IT,Muncipality,RTO, R and B,PWD, – from top to bottom – reeks in corruption.

    How to Eradicate Corruption?

    1.Effective Reforms are Essential in Delivery Mechanism to stop the theft of Fruits of Economic Progress of the Nation
    2.Administrative Reforms Commission Report-1968
    3.Proportional Representation,Open List Method
    4.Honey Report, USA-1968
    5.Live Video Monitoring
    6.Dharmaveera Police Commission Report
    7.Law Enforcement
    8.Vohra Committee Report
    9.100% State Funding,
    10.Benami Proprties Act-1988
    11.Legal Donation through Cheque
    12.Character Check once in three months
    14.Prevention of Corruption Act-1988
    15.Scientific Recruitment, CT Scan during Recruitment Interview
    16.Independent Federal Investigation Agency
    17.Regular Under Cover Operations to Achieve ZERO Corruption
    18 Implement Supreme Court Verdicts-Capital Punishment for henious crime equal to murder,Treason of Subverting National Institutions and National Security
    19.There are 5 principles of Sowing and Reaping:
    1.You only Reap if you Sow.
    2.You always Reap what you Sow.
    3.You always Reap quite a while after you Sow.
    4.YOU always Reap much more than you Sow.
    5.Whatever you Reap will be Sowed and Reaped again.

    Our Citizens of India are not allowed to take out any salary /money from their account they can use their funds only by their Debit or else credit cards or through Cheque for any purpose eg:shopping, any other Purchasing and he/she need to carry ID while Shopping. In this way Government employers, Politicians would be scare to ask bribe this has to make compulsory by the Indian Government.Each transaction has to made online.Say no to Cash and One main advantage to our country is we can get ride of fake note issues.

    Comment by CHURCHILL KUMAR SHAH | November 21, 2010

  27. Excerpts from Prof Rajeev Gowda and E Sridharan’s article The costs of democracy(emphasis added):
    To combat corruption, we must attack its root causes. Our research (available at bit.ly/GowdaSridharan2012) suggests that corruption in India is driven by flaws in political party funding and election expenditure laws.
    … Parties need funds to function and to campaign. But where do such funds come from? How are they spent? Are there larger implications of how India addresses these questions?

    Historically, parties raised funds openly and legally from corporate donors and small contributions from members, something Mahatma Gandhi was adept at, as Ashutosh Varshney reminds us in his column in this newspaper (‘The business-politics nexus’, IE, July 9). However, in the late 1960s, corporate donations were banned without being substituted by alternative legal sources, for example state funding. The demand for funds required to run parties and fight elections was addressed by shaking down corporate donors for unaccounted “black” money.

    On the supply side, corporate donors were willing to contribute black money in exchange for licences and permits. Two decades after liberalisation, the same corrupt equilibrium prevails because governments still control key aspects of resource allocation (for instance, spectrum and land). Discretionary allocation of such resources helps those in power raise funds and those who contribute to get ahead of their competition.

    ..In 1985, corporate contributions to political parties were re-legalised and from 2003, made tax-deductible. Parties were now required to file income tax returns disclosing their sources of income, except for contributions below Rs 20,000.

    Renewed legality and tax deductibility of corporate contributions has not resulted in a deluge of open giving. This is because elections witness a substantial turnover of parties in power. Corporate donors reason that they are better off contributing to parties covertly so as to avoid adverse impacts when a non-favoured party wins the election. Anonymity trumps tax-deductibility.

    Parties continue to garner significant resources through contributions below Rs 20,000 from unidentified donors, raising questions over whether this represents black money being channelled into party coffers, rather than donations from loyalists. Parties’ income tax declarations, now publicly available thanks to the Right to Information Act, show that in 2008-09 the Congress raised Rs 480 million in donations out of an income of Rs 4970 million, and the Bharatiya Janata Party raised Rs 1960 million in donations out of an income of Rs 2200 million. Donations below Rs 20,000 constituted Rs 201 million and Rs 1654 million respectively.

    The Election Commission’s aggressive monitoring of overt election expenses also has perverse consequences. Expenditure has simply been driven underground. …candidates now simply pay cash to voters. Elections typically trigger a covert spending arms race. “Paid news” is one of the fallouts.

    Electoral finance laws also lead parties to seek out wealthy candidates, or those with the capacity to raise and distribute significant amounts of black money (thus increasing the chances of criminals obtaining party tickets). Wealthier candidates are more successful. According to National Election Watch, in 2009, of 322 candidates who declared assets greater than Rs 50 million, one-third emerged victorious, whereas only 19 per cent of candidates with assets between Rs 5 and 50 million triumphed.

    There is another, larger impact of election finance laws: Black money flows to key individuals who are likely to come to power. Once in power, these individuals raise more resources through preferential allocation of governmental favours to the private sector. Their stranglehold over funds enables them to favour supporters and marginalise competitors, helping them gain dominance over their parties. Such individuals typically rely on family members to manage their treasure chests, a factor leading to the emergence of political dynasties across party lines.

    State funding is a potential solution to India’s electoral ills. The Confederation of Indian Industry had recommended raising money through corporate contributions to a state-managed fund or a cess on excise duty. Yogendra Yadav recommends that government allocate Rs 100 per vote polled to constituency units of parties, to be used for legitimate political expenses. This would cost the exchequer less than the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme, while helping level the electoral playing field.

    We recommend that parties be given matching funds in proportion to the amounts they raise from identified small contributors and after demonstrating mandatory internal democracy..We also recommend the simultaneous removal of election expenditure limits to bring spending overground and to end a counterproductive charade. Only when we come to terms with the actual costs of making democracy work will we take the first steps towards a cleaner public sphere.

    Comment by B Shantanu | July 19, 2012

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