16th May 2017
There is now light at the end of the tunnel: Swarna Bharat Party
Before joining the IAS I didn’t really understand what goes on inside government. But I soon found that all ministers are corrupt and many officers are happy to serve these corrupt ministers. Just recently I found that one of my batchmates (who is now chief secretary of one of the states) is one of the most corrupt IAS officers of India.
One thing we do know, that everything has a cause. If an apple falls to the ground, gravity is implicated. Similarly, there are reasons why people become corrupt.
Those who come to power must spend vast amounts of money during elections, for which there is no possible reimbursement except through corruption. When these people become ministers, they get access to the opportunities for corruption that India’s socialist system generates. The resulting corruption is inevitable.
Second, we systematically shelter our bureaucrats from accountability. Officers know that regardless of the party that forms government, their “services” will be needed by minsters to undertake corrupt activities. They also know that the law protects them through Article 311 of the Constitution.
We have to deal with these causes if we are serious about eradicating corruption. No shortcuts such as Janlokpal or demonetisation will work.
Today, honest persons from the middle or poor classes cannot contest elections since they will lose their hard-earned savings if they lose the election. To get such people to contest, we need to pay candidates something for each vote they get. A reimbursement of Rs 20 per valid vote, up to a maximum of Rs 70 lakhs per parliamentary constituency, will do the trick.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has recently raised the prospect of state funding of elections. This is the solution. But he should do it properly. The 1998 Indrajit Gupta inquiry didn’t even consider the per vote funding: the solution that is proven to work.
We will, of course, need complementary reforms. The security deposit will need to be increased to ensure that only serious candidates contest elections. MP and MLA salaries will need to be raised, while eliminating perks and pensions.
Even then, corrupt candidates will probably still outspend honest candidates. But as good candidates start participating, voters will get improved choice, and finally the corrupt will stop contesting.
The second part of the solution is to eliminate tenured services such as the IAS and IPS and replace them with contractually appointed experts. Hire-and-fire contracts for senior officials will ensure total alignment with performance. These contracts will let the government terminate of services of those who are found to be corrupt or inefficient, without recourse to cumbersome disciplinary processes. This is a proven and working model in many countries. So we don’t need to reinvent the wheel.
After I found these answers to India’s problems, I had no choice but to resign from the IAS and work towards forming a political party which would bring these (and other) solutions to India. We now have such a party, called Swarna Bharat Party. If Indians are serious about good governance, they will soon have a choice.