Speaking for the first time on the issue of corruption after the agitation of the social activist Anna Hazare, Indian Prime Minister,Manmohan SIngh, talked about tough legislative and political action to combat the menace of corruption.
Underscoring the present mood and anger of the nation against corruption Singh admitted that there is little tolerance among people for corruption.
Addressing IAS, IFS, IPS and other senior bureaucrats on the Civil Services Day in New Delhi the PM asked them to be bold and alert in taking initiative and should not succumb to the temptation of corruption.
“We must recognise there is little public tolerance now for the prevailing state of affairs. People expect swift and exemplary action and rightly so”, Singh said.
Asking the bureaucrats to contribute in the fight against corruption the Premier emphasized that “There is a growing feeling in the people that our laws, systems and procedures are not effective in dealing with corruption”.
Reassuring the nation about the United Progressive Alliance or UPA’s commitment to bring in an effective legislation to rein in graft and corruption charges at the higher places Singh tried to allay any doubt about the introduction of the Jan Lokpal Bill (Civil Ombudsman’s Bill) in the coming Monsoon session of the parliament.
“A committee of Ministers and representatives of civil society is at work to finalise the draft of a Lokpal Bill, which we hope to be able to introduce during the monsoon session of Parliament”, assured the PM.
He described corruption “a challenge that we must tackle boldly and we stand committed to doing so.”
He asked the civil servants “to be honest and fearless in advising superior authorities, especially the political leadership” and advised that “those of you who serve in senior positions would do well to also encourage your subordinate officers in this direction”.
Singh observed that the bills related to judicial accountability and protections of the whistle blower have already been introduced in the parliament and in time to come his government will also ratify the United Nations Convention on Corruption.
“We are committed to bringing more transparency in public procurement and to ensuring that disinvestment of public utilities and allocation of public resources are done in a manner that best safeguards the interests of the asset-owning public,” the Prime Minister said.
Underscoring the need to uphold the highest standards of probity and integrity in public and personal life and create an atmosphere and work ethic which encourage honesty and integrity Singh advised the civil servants to be vigilant and trustworthy to the people.
“It is a pity that instances of individual waywardness, of lack of moral courage and of surrender to pressures and temptations tarnish the image of Civil Services and lead to immense criticism and dissatisfaction”,advised the PM.
Prime Minister’s bold statement on corruption comes at a time when the whole nation is agitated over the issue. The success of the movement against corruption led by the social activist Anna Hazare has jolted the government and created panic among the political class.
Singh’s speech today is the boldest enunciation of the thinking of the government on the issue of corruption.
In the last one years several scams have tumbled out of the UPA government’s closet- scam in the allotment of the 2G spectrum, bugling in the preparation of the Commonwealth Games, Adarsh Society scam in Maharashtra, appointment of a tainted Chief Vigilance Commissioner, P J Thomas and the links of senior politicians with Hasan Ali, a gambler who is supposed to be involved in millions of dollars of hawala transactions and is presumed to be hiding billions in some secret Swiss bank accounts.