Fight Against Corruption

December 9th is observed as International Anti-Corruption Day.  It was on this day in 2003 that the United Nations General Assembly adopted the U.N Convention against Corruption.

Why fight against corruption is important?

1. United Nations states that nearly 5% of the global GDP is lost to corruption. The money lost in corruption is needed for providing various essential services to ordinary citizens.

2. Corruption also finances corrupt officials and regimes in the form of bribery and defrauds public exchequer.

3. Anti-corruption measures are important to control organized crimes like trafficking of drugs, weapons, migrants and natural resources.

When the international community focused on corruption?

1. UN Convention against Corruption was enacted in 2003.

2. It is the only legally binding universal anti-corruption instrument present.

3. The convention covers 5 mains areas –

a) Preventive Measures

b) Criminalization and law enforcement

c) International Cooperation

d) Asset recovery

e) Technical assistance and information exchange

4. Forms of corruption included under this convention are – bribery, trading in influence, corruption in the private sector.

5. India ratified the convention in May 2011. As of now, the convention has 183 signatory states.

Where the effectiveness of the convention is seen?

1. A specific chapter deals with asset recovery. It is aimed at returning assets to the rightful owners including countries from which they were taken illegally.

2. Peer to peer mechanism has also built trust and accountability among member states. It will result in educating, empowering citizens and promoting transparency.

3. It also strengthens international cooperation to recover the state’s assets.

4. Every country now has a law in place to counter corruption.

5. India is ranked 81st in the global corruption perception index in 2017 among 180 countries, improving its position from 85th in 2014.

What are the measures taken by India?

India has adopted a multi-pronged approach through institutions and legislative framework to tackle corruption.

1. Executive Measures:

a) Attestations by government servants for submission of certificates for jobs and other facilities were abolished.

b) Personal interviews for recruitment to lower posts were abolished.

c) Demonetization was carried out with an aim to eradicate black money and corruption. It also enhanced digital transactions and cashless payments resulting in effective control.

d) Exercises to weed out public servants who are inefficient and of doubtful of integrity were undertaken. 125 senior officials in Central government were retired “prematurely”.

e) Direct Benefit Transfer system to beneficiaries based on Aadhaar also aims to bring down corruption.

f) The government also had set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) under the chairmanship of Justice Shah.

2. Legislative Measures:

a) Prevention of Corruption Act (amended), 2018 was enacted to enhance transparency and accountability of government.

b) Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018 was passed to bring to book absconding offenders and to deter them from evading the law.

c) Lokpal and Lokayukta Act aims to create an anti-corruption ombudsman to look into corruption allegations against administrators and legislators.

d) The Judges (Inquiry) Act also aimed to tackle corruption in the judiciary.

e) Other important legislation in these lines is – Prevention of Money Laundering Act, Benami Transaction (Prohibition) Act, Whistle Blowers Protection Act, 2011.

3. Added to these measures, institutions like Central Vigilance Commission, Central Information Commission, Comptroller, and Auditor General also helps in achieving this objective.

Which are the other ways adopted by India?

1. India uses diplomatic channels to tackle corruption.

2. Information sharing agreement with Switzerland allows automatic sharing of tax-related information.

3. India has signed an extradition treaty with 48 countries. Extradition of middleman in VVIP Chopper Scam to India from UAE is an example of the success of diplomatic measures.

4. Recently, India presented a 9-point agenda in the G 20 summit held in Argentina, calling for strong cooperation to comprehensively deal with fugitive economic offenders.

5. India is also stressing for full and effective implementation of principles of the UN Convention against Corruption, UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime.

How to further the fight against corruption?

1. One essential way to deal with corruption is bringing electoral reforms. Election Commission has been pushing for transparency in the funding of political parties.

2. Electoral bonds brought in the last budget is in this direction. But the political consensus is needed to bring more effective measures.

3. Over bureaucratization is one reason for corruption. So, more focus on simplifying the process in government offices is needed.