With his government pilloried over corruption , Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday said that he did not have a magic wand’ to deal with corruption, which had become “a big obstacle” in India’s transformation into a major economic power. Singh, however,cautioned against going overboard in highlighting the problem. “It is essential that when we consider these issues, we do not create an atmosphere in which the country’s progress comes into question.
Any debate on these matters should reflect the confidence that we can overcome these challenges ,” he said while delivering the Independence Day speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort. His remarks came against the backdrop of the relentless pummeling his government has taken on account of scandals involving 2G spectrum allocation and conduct of the Commonwealth Games. The Prime Minister acknowledged the pervasiveness of the corruption and graft in the government’s welfare programmes. “‘ Funds meant for schemes for the welfare of the common man end up in the pocket of government officials. In some other instances, government discretion is used to favour a selected few.
There are also cases where government contracts are wrongfully awarded to wrong people. We cannot let such activities continue unchecked.” The Prime Minister used the opportunity to warn the civil society against encroaching on the legislature’s turf. With social activist Anna Hazare scheduled to kick off a fast-unto-death in support of his team’s demands for a ‘strong’ Lokpal Bill on Tuesday , the government is keen to avoid a full-blown confrontation. “I am aware of the differences of opinion on some aspects of the bill. Those who don’t agree with this bill can put forward their views to Parliament, political parties and even the press.
However, I also believe they should not resort to hunger strikes and fasts-unto-death ,” he said. Singh stressed that the government had no magic wand to deal with corruption. “I believe that there is no single big step which we can take to eradicate corruption . We will have to act simultaneously on many fronts. We will have to improve our justice delivery system. Everyone should know that quick action will be taken against the corrupt and punishment meted out to them. If our system delivers justice in an effective manner, government officials would think twice before committing a wrong act out of greed or under political pressure.”
Singh reached out to political parties seeking support for the government’s proposed legislations on public procurement and monitoring of regulatory bodies. “We are taking simultaneous action on many fronts in our fight against corruption. We want all political parties to stand shoulder to shoulder with us in this fight.” Singh reiterated his government’s commitment to ensure a strong Lokpal. He sought to allay concerns about keeping the judiciary outside the purview of Lokpal. He said that the Judicial Accountability Bill would uphold the independence of the judiciary while “providing a framework” to make it “more accountable” . ET