mid-day editorial: Fight corruption with action, not promises

For most citizens, the rules are the same — anyone who breaks the law will be punished. Unless they’re a government servant; in that case, they’ll get a promotion. Yesterday, this paper carried a report about how a stenographer who was caught accepting a bribe of Rs 25,000, is now an Assistant Municipal Commissioner in ward number 4 of the Ulhasnagar corporation.

Ganesh Shimpi was caught red-handed as he accepted a bribe to allow illegal construction. An inquiry by the corporation found him guilty, and even the chief minisyer gave him the marching orders on hearing of the crime. Despite all of this, Shimpi was still given the senior post and continues to hold it. Ridiculous excuses are being trotted out to justify why Shimpi has not been removed from his job.

More importantly, this case is symbolic of how corruption remains endemic in our system. When the proof is there and the CM himself is convinced that he needs to go, why is a tainted employee still on the chair?

In this way, you erode any remnant of faith among young people that wrongs will be righted and corruption will be weeded out. Such cases stand as examples that all this talk of weeding out corruption is just lip service and will only ever remain on paper. This is also the reason why people have such deep-rooted cynicism about government inquiries and probes. Even when high-profile scams are uncovered, citizens scoff at the government’s solemn promises of justice. One can hardly blame them.

If we are serious about changing the system in this country, we have to start by setting an example. When people are caught red-handed, there has to be immediate action to punish or remove them from positions of power.

The anti-corruption movement has been a hot button issue for a while now. But unless we see some real changes on the ground, there is little use bandying words of bravado. These words and promises must be backed by solid action.

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