Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Monster called Lokpal

The IndiaAgainstCorruption website (, in an article comparing the handling of Class C government employees proposed by the Lokpal Bill v/s the Jan Lokpal Bill makes certain interesting observations.

Since the government has proposed that cases of corruption related to Class C be handled by the CVC, it criticizes this proposition with the following reasoning:

“There are 57 lakh Group C employees and 3 lakh Group A and Group B employees. Internationally, one anti-corruption staff is provided to check corruption of 200 government employees. So, you would need 28,500 anti-corruption staff in CVC to check corruption of 57 lakh employees. CVC has a staff strength of 230 employees. Does the government plan to provide 28,500 additional workforce to them?”

Totally agree. The government proposition just does not fly in the face of simple logic.

The article then goes on to provide several other reasons to criticize the government’s proposition, but I have not re-produced them here as they are not relevant to the main theme of  this article.

While elaborating their model, the IAC article makes the following points:

It starts by suggesting that the CBI be given jurisdiction over all the government employees, including Class C. Then it goes on to state, “However, CBI suffers from severe staff shortage and is under government’s control. Through our proposal, we are only proposing that the workforce of CBI should be increased five-fold, as demanded by CBI and they should be taken out of government’s control and merged with Lokpal. Likewise, in states, the Anti-Corruption Bureaus and State Vigilance Departments should be merged into new Lokayuktas.”

So everyone agrees that no matter which dispensation will perform the investigation, there is a severe shortage of staff.

Let us move on to see how the exact model will look like. The exact paragraph is reproduced below:

“So, how would this system work? Lokpal would have an office/ Police Station is each district in the country (CBI already has one police station in each state. This is proposed to be increased to one police station in each district) and Lokayukta would have a Police Station is each block of that respective state. For corruption in a Central Government department, a citizen could register an FIR in the nearest Lokpal Police Station in the district and for corruption in any State Government, a citizen could register FIR in the nearest Lokayukta Police Station in that block.  It should be noted that the complaints would not go to Lokpal members sitting in Delhi or Lokayukta members sitting in state capitals.”

The essence of the above paragraph is that there would be one person per block who would handle corruption cases under the Lokpal.

There are roughly 10,000 blocks in India (5,161 towns and 6,404 C, D blocks).

What does this mean? That to make the IAC’s model operational, we need to recruit at least 10,000 persons.

Quick digression, before I return to the main point. The IAC article conveniently does not mention a single number while elaborating its model but does drop the 28,500 number while it discusses the government model. I found that rather strange. The nearest they come to quantification is the mention of “workforce of the CBI should be increased five-fold”. But then, by their own argument of “Internationally, one anti-corruption staff is provided to check corruption of 200 government employees”, the workforce needed HAS TO BE 28,500. But the way the content is organized, the subtle conclusion that reader arrives at is that such a huge workforce is NOT required.

Be that as it may, we are talking of a workforce anywhere between 10,000 to 28,500 by their own reasoning, not mine. Let us accept the lower figure so they get the benefit of doubt.

Where will these 10,000 persons work in and as? We are told they would work in a Lokayukta Police Station one in every block. I assume, in the absence of any clarification, that they these persons would be of the rank of at least Sub-Inspector and drawing salaries in keeping with what other Sub-Inspectors in every State Police Station are paid.

If that is the case, and again, in the absence of any direct mention in their article, I have to make this assumption, here are some basic question that arise:

  1. Where are we going to find 10,000 honest persons who would be willing to work as Sub-Inspectors at a block level in India?
  2. If we can find them, then why should we create a parallel system and have them work in a parallel system, why not work in the ambit of the existing system?
  3. If the answer to 2 is that the existing system is corrupt and that eventually these persons would turn corrupt as well, what is going to prevent them from becoming corrupt eventually in the new system? And whatever it is that can be done to prevent them from being corrupt in the new system, why cannot those measures be introduced in the existing system and reform the existing system, instead of creating a new one?
  4. If the answer to 2 is that the existing system will never allow such honest persons to enter it, then my response is that we agitate on this issue rather than create what is very obviously a gargantuan parallel system that is completely at odds with what exists.

What pleasantries are the two Sub-Inspectors from the two Police Stations going to exchange when they meet each other?  For the sake of this nation, let us create an environment that will incentivise and motivate the current Police and CBI personnel to be honest and not create a new police system to police the police and several other government servants.

If we go along with the proposed Jan Lokpal or even the government proposed Lokpal, we will end up creating a police state with unlimited and unbridled power in one institution which is not elected by the people of this nation, nor accountable to it in any way whatsoever. We just have to hope and pray they don’t turn rogue. This is what we want to leave our future generations?

The way to resolve a problem is to treat its root cause, not to treat its symptoms. Electoral reforms, police reforms, these are some of the solutions to the fundamental root causes. Creating a Lokpal is similar to having a nurse who keeps monitoring a patient’s pain and administers medication to alleviate the pain, hoping that in due course the cause of the pain will go away.

I hope better sense prevails and that Team Anna’s agitation is focused on cleansing the system from within and not create a monster that we all hope will threaten its way to cleanse this nation from corruption.

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