The issue of corruption in India is not a matter of law. India has more than enough laws to fight corruption. The menace of corruption in India is prevalent due to the lack of implementation of the existing laws. Corruption in this country is not a public sector thing, it is actually a matter of private behaviour.
Relying on laws will not cure corruption in India. Anna Hazare’s agitation relies too much on laws. He is staging protests for the appointment of the ombudsman or Lokpal and stresses on passing of new laws to curb corruption. But, if passing laws were a solution, India would be a perfect country.
The problem is that we Indians rely too much on the state. We rely too much on the laws. We rely too much on the officials, but we do not rely enough on ourselves. The need of the hour is to start relying on ourselves.
What is actually required is that people of this country should change their own behaviour vis-à-vis corruption to make the much sought difference in the system.
We have to change the behaviour of public officials by private agitation as well as collective agitation. A common man of this country has to join hands with other common men to fight the menace of corruption.
Mass agitations alone are not of much help in fighting the scourge of corruption. People of this country need to change their behaviour if they really want to get rid of the menace of corruption.
Media too has to play a more active role and become a part of the process to fight corruption. Every country was once corrupt. Some countries have become less corrupt now. So, we need to study their behaviour. We need to study how the developed countries of the world like the United States of America and the United Kingdom have become less corrupt.
It was public action by individuals with the help of media which helped in bringing down the level of corruption that existed in these countries.
Even Bangladesh has done better than India because it does not have a caste system. Caste system is the biggest problem of India. If you think that it’s the job of a particular community to carry human waste, you will never think about better ways to clear it up.
India can progress by abolishing caste system and by fighting evils like untouchability. How can a society believe in Advaita and Brahma and treat half the population like waste? How can any society live with a contradiction like that?
India should evolve its own model to make progress in the direction of overall human development. And whatever model of progress this country adopts, it should be practised after abolishing the age old caste system. (As told to Ashok Kumar)
(Lord Meghnad Desai is Professor Emeritus of Economics at London School of Economics and Political Science, UK.)