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Crackdown on corruption must be sustained

The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has startled many with its pro-active move of nabbing corrupt officials without waiting for complaints. It is almost a dream sequence for the Indian people who are practically inured to the idea of those in power getting away with corruption. With regular doses of news about corruption indices and India’s ranking on global scales of graft, it is not really a surprise that so many have been swept up in the net by the ACB. Neither are the posts held by the officials nabbed, surprising.

The modus operandi of the ACB, too, reads like an edge-of-the-seat thriller movie or TV serial, as we read about plainclothes cops hanging around, eavesdropping and picking up on instances of bribery, then swooping down and catching the culprits in the act.

What many are wondering is how long this dream run will last. Close to 600 corrupt officials have been caught in six months. Applying simple laws of scale, there are bound to be many more who should be in the net — and we hope will be, if ACB Director General Praveen Dixit continues to do the good he has initiated. The fear is, however, that he may not be able to. Wielding of clout and hushing up of those who speak out is well-known in our country. Instances abound of upright officials being transferred to ‘punishment postings’ or harassed. With Dixit’s cleanup drive affecting government employees, he is probably in the spotlight now.

The operation has not spared even senior officials and also a former minister, but the question that arises is, can the momentum be sustained? And will the really big fish be netted? Those who wring their hands over corruption often say that since it is endemic to the system, right from the top, the small fry cannot escape the effect of bribery as it percolates down through the hierarchy. So the answer is, probably, catch the big fish — as well as the small ones.

Spare no one, and even more important, ensure that the charges are watertight and that the guilty are prosecuted.

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