Latest incidents of violence after Gurmeet Ram Rahim’s conviction, the colossal collapse of Mumbai building, the spurt in number of rape cases, atrocities on tiny-tots in schools across the country, reflect our feeble administration. The issue of corruption occupies centrestage. Economic and social consequences of pervasive corruption have increased the need for absolute accountability and transparency.
Our economy needs major reforms. In order to strengthen the existing administrative mechanism, the government formulated Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) in February 1964. It was formed to prevent corruption, maintain integrity among government servants and ensure appropriate exercise of administrative powers. One such refinement for improving existing conditions is increasing the role of CVC, making it even more proactive.
We are living in the information age, the digital era. The need of the hour is to boost the power of technology to increase the lucidity. Citizens expect honest, useful communications from their government agencies and this expectation isn’t misplaced, as now we live in a world where mobile phones and web are ubiquitous. One suggestion is disclosure of various projects’ budget information on websites. This will prevent misappropriation of resources to a large extent by making authorities accountable. Increased use of CCTV cameras in establishments for overall monitoring is recommended.
Most importantly, we need speedy disciplinary action on errant officials, rather than age-old mechanisms involving cumbersome compliances. Procedures such as issuance of chargesheet, detailed enquiry, showcause notice may take substantial time. But prompt issuance of written memos, warnings, seeking explanations are effective ways to create deterrence and remind the errant officials of their responsibilities. Framing and implementation of disciplinary policies are imperative ingredients of any anti-corruption effort or to bring improvement in the lackadaisical administration.
There are increasing expectations from the administration that it shall manifest and deliver high standards of performance and integrity. Purity in selection process is a sine qua non. Officials with dubious credentials are termites of our system. It is incumbent that the selection criteria and procedures are candid as well as fair. Skills, performance and disciplinary record must be scrutinised and made public. Apart from civil appointments, even the selection of contractual bids should be transparent. Details with respect to contract clauses should be made online, with highlights on the purchase price and benefits for the company.
Scope for favouritism or discrimination in officials’ promotions, too, need to be eliminated from our system. It’s vital to determine minimum criteria for advancement, and make employees aware of standards they need to meet to earn it. Policies should consist of clear-cut norms and criteria, which should be fair and uniformly applicable to all employees without giving scope for nepotism. Reasons for selection, promotion must be recorded and made public as far as possible.
Further, commitment in work and speedy results hold paramount significance. Working hours of institutions and departments need a thorough check. A peep into over-extended lunch hours, well known chai-paani breaks is essential. Monthly administrative reports—on details of work done, targets achieved, appropriate reasoning for non- achievements, status and progress of project works—are an effective method for keeping track of overall progress. With a view to improve efficiency in the system, monitoring attendance, leave records and overall working environment are significant.
Transparency and accountability—the two indispensable instruments—urgently need to be established in the nation.
Advocate, Supreme Court of India