Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Bribe giving and bribe taking

It's a sad day in the history of independent India when a High Court declares that bribe has become an accepted norm now' (Deccan Chronicle, Dec 1, 2010). The court has observed: 'the bribe culture has got so deep rooted, no work is done without paying bribe; It is hard to imagine if any work gets done in government offices and offices of public authorities without payment of bribe'. The Court has made these observations while upholding the conviction and sentence of 18 months imprisonment for accepting a bribe of Rs. 1,500 seventeen years back in 1993.

On the 2G scam, Kapil Sibal has stated "As we function in a democratic set up, we must ensure transparency in the functioning of the government and justice and equity in formulating and implementing policy".

If 18 months imprisonment can be awarded for taking a bribe of Rs. 1,500, what should be the punishment for giving and taking of bribes in crores and crores of rupees? What should we do as a nation to stop all cases of bribes and how do we recover the money? How do we set up institutional mechanisms to prevent giving and taking of bribes and money laundering? How do we prevent our democracy from being derailed by horse-trading and vote buying? Can a fool-proof methodology be evolved for the public to monitor all activities in a democracy to ensure total transparency for total accountability? Without this, democracy would be a farce and more a kleptocracy; and nepotism would be the order of the day!

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