Millennium Post

Corruption hurts good governance

The aim of 1991 economic reforms was to do away with the Licence Raj. It was the main source of corruption. Babus amass huge wealth through the means of licences issued for manufacturing and trading. Various licences and approvals were required to start a manufacturing and import businesses. A huge money were flowed under the table to expedite the issue of licences. A manufacturer had to wait for eight to 10 months to get an industrial licence. Similar periods were required to obtain an import licence. Most of the big houses deployed brains to liaison with the babus and expedite the issue of licences through bribes.

 The main targets for AAP’s anti-corruption movement are babus and police. It is the same babus who were the main cause for corruption during Licence Raj. This time the corruptions are, however, of different nature. They are related more to the civic amenities and basic economic needs of general people, such as high electricity bills and water bills, unemployment, inflation, property taxes and police atrocities. Similar to Licence Raj, babus are involved in squeezing general people in providing these services in nexus with politicians and police. The factors, which helped Babus to propel up the crony capitalism in the country, are the complicated regulations and cumbersome procedures.

 It is paradoxical that corruption has become rampant during the period of Manmohan Singh as prime minister in his second term, given that he was the pioneer to banish the license raj in 1991, when he was Minister of Finance. Corruption has spurred almost in every step of governance, whether it is economy or issues relating to facilities to general people. UPA led by him has become the main target of corruption buoyancy by AAP. Abandoning licence raj and inducting various other reforms became boon to economic growth. GDP jumped from a flat growth by 1.4 per cent in 1991-1992 to eight per cent in 1996-1997. Reforms became a strong platform for self-sufficiency in manufacturing and trading which were either dependent on imports or smuggling. Growth in manufacturing boomed to 15 per cent in 1995-96, the highest growth the country witnessed ever.

 The country becomes one of the biggest base in the world for consumer durables like electronic goods and automobiles. Role of private sector and FDI became dominant in the development of manufacturing and trading sectors. The spell of high growth resurrected with Congress coming back into power in 2004. GDP spurred from seven per cent in 2004-2005 to nine per cent in 2010-2011.

 The World Economic Forum Competitive Index said that freedom from corruption is one of the factors that influenced economy’s competitiveness. Corruption is the major hurdle in the growth story.

 Then, what made Congress plunged into corruption in its present term? Most of the corruptions were economic related issues, similar to those in licence raj, such as 2G, coal, real estate scam. This means that Licence Raj has reversed back with the opening of economy in sensitive sectors, such as telecom services, financial services, reality business and mining sectors. Earlier, License Raj was to patronise closed economy. After the reforms, License Raj crawled into the areas which were not open to private sectors.

 Another factor which led to corruption bubble was the larger size of coalition government. With the growing stature of local political parties in State politics, coalition government has become inevitable at the centre. More the ruling government was tied to local parties’ for coalition supports, more corruptions crawled into the governance. The 2G and coal scam are the cases in point. It is argued that one of the main reasons for successes of Modi and Chouhan government in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh respectively was less corruption.
 Corruption could be waned with the absence or lower size of coalition government. Both Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh enjoy single party majority. Evidently, in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, BJP has less ratio of corrupted MLAs. According to Election Watch by ADR, BJP has 27 per cent of its MLAs in Gujarat and 29 per cent of its MLAs in Madhya Pradesh corrupted (against whom criminal proceedings were registered) as compared to Congress having 32 per cent in Gujarat and 38 per cent in Madhya Pradesh corrupted MLAs. 

 Conversely, while Modi and Chouhan led BJP were successful to wane corruption in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh because of their non-coalition government structure, BJP failed to weed out its corrupted leaders at the centre. BJP has higher ratio of corrupted MPs in Lok Sabha than Congress. According to 2009 Election Watch, BJP had 36.2 per cent of its elected MPs corrupted in Lok Sabha compared to 20.3 per cent of Congress MPs corrupted.

 The country witnessed a great transition in shaping the election slogans. Before reforms in 1991, Garibi Hatao hogged the limelight. Subsidy and nationalization prioritized the economy. After reforms, developments became the key slogan to win election. It was pledged that Garibi Hatao could only be uprooted by development in the economy. After the country tasted the windfall of reforms with golden period of growth in between 2004 to 2009, anti-corruption emerged the key slogan to win election. The main reason for corruption to spur despite having a better growth in the economy was that the windfall of reforms failed to percolate to Aam Aadmi.

AAP is the composite of fresh politicians. Most of them do not have experiences in governance using Parliamentary democratic systems. They are from different sects of life - scientists, lawyers, bureaucrats, journalists, technocrats. They have one zeal, that is, how the corruption should be nipped in the bud through revolution in democratic system, which confer democratic rights – whether on the road or in the legislatures. 

AAP followed two pronged strategies to drub the corruptions. One, through Parliamentary democratic system by bringing Lok Pal Bill and two, by anti-corruption movements on streets. This surged the charisma of AAP and became cause for fear to taper the Modi wave. IPA
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