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M-PAC: Mumbai: Pact Against Corruption program - Vinay's thoughts

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  • Karmayog.com
    The NGO Council indeed feels honoured that the Anti-Corruption Bureau is involving it in its M-PAC: Mumbai: Pact Against Corruption program. Thank you. We will
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 11, 2006
      The NGO Council indeed feels honoured that the Anti-Corruption Bureau is involving it in its M-PAC: Mumbai: Pact Against Corruption program. Thank you. We will strive to deliver results.

      To understand how de-sensitised and detached we have become to corruption, let me take an incident from our daily lives. A boy starts to learn driving. Soon thereafter, once he does not stop at a signal when the traffic light is red. A policeman stops and fines him. The boy pays the fine. When his dad comes home at night, he tells his dad about the incident. What does the father do? The father scolds him. About what? Not about breaking the trafiic rules or about driving carefully, but about paying the full fine instead of 'settling' with the policeman.

      Isn't this a common enough theme pervading our lives? Let's analyse the effects of this on the boy. One, instead of learning good habits, the boy learns how to 'manage' the system. Two, the boy realises that honesty is not valued, and, in fact, is looked down upon. Three, the boy's respect for his father goes down because he realises that is the way his father leads his life. The boy's mind has been corrupted for life.

      Just one trivial act pertaining to corruption has such a profound impact on us! Yet, we have become so insensitised that we don't even realise this any more.

      So when we see corruption from the effect on the bribe giver, we realise how it makes us weak in every aspect of our lives because it spoils our individual character and makes us spineless in dealing with any situation. And as we know, Character shapes our Destiny.

      And just as an individual's character shapes his or her destiny, similarly society's character shapes the country's destiny.

      So what we would like to do through the NGO Council and the Karmayog website is to work on building social conscience and consciousness. We intend to do this via programs in schools and colleges such as debates, panel discussions, projects, etc.

      We believe that an informed public is the best means to prevent corruption. Towards that objective, we will engage with the Anti-Corruption Bureau and with citizen groups to disseminate information, create awareness, give guidance, and invite and receive feedback. We will do so by utilising the power and reach of the internet, as well as via public meetings.

      As a citizen, what I need to know is whom to contact if I have a problem or suggestion, how to contact, how to do it as painlessly and easily as possible, and how to be confident that it will actually reach someone who is in a power to do something about it and will give it serious consideration.

      We will strive to be such a bridge. We will act as a channel for citizens to access or approach the Anti-Corruption Bureau if a citizen would prefer not to do so directly for any reason.

      We will encourage citizens to come forward to lodge their complaints with ACB. We will provide guidance on how to complain and where to complain.

      Corruption often arises due to unnecessary procedural formalities and gaps in policies. The Governor of Maharashtra has asked officials and citizens to come together and identify such practices which are no longer relevant and find out ways to remove them. We will try to put together groups and systems which can lead to recommendations of such systemic improvements.

      There are different ways to bring about change in society. One way is to change the mindset of people so that they themselves bring about the change. Another way is to build institutional systems that will change the behaviour of people.

      This M-PAC initiative of the Anti-Corruption Bureau involving Community Participation in the Fight Against Corruption indeed has that potential.

      The Anti-Corruption Bureau is like a very powerful gun. But ... it has no bullets. Why? Because it can not take suo moto action. It needs complaints to take action. Citizen complaints are the bullets and we citizens need to provide as many as we can.

      As individuals, however, we all find it difficult to complain about specific situations because of the fear of backlash as well as the time, energy, effort and money required to do so. And, we often end up feeling frustrated or foolish for having done so. There is however great power and ease in doing so via a third party. We hope to be able to create such processes that will enable one to report specific instances, or general bad practices, and even to suggest solutions. We will stive to develop confidence that it will not boomerang on the person, and also give feedback on the complaint or suggestion made.

      Justice, Liberty, Equality! And assurance of Dignity! This is the promise of the Constitution of our country. Only an honest society can fulfil this dream. There is absolutely no other way. That is my personal conviction.

      We are excited with this bold step that the Anti-Corruption Bureau has taken to formally involve us. With public participation, it has the potential to bring about a sea change in our lives and in our city and country.

      We intend forming a group to chalk out a program for the next few months. We invite those of you with ideas and time, to get involved. We will meet next week. So if you are interested, please contact us.
      Vinay Somani
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