In the days of licence-permit regime with shortages, rationing and price controls, the scope for corruption was enormous. People had to wait for years to get things like a HMT watch, a Bajaj Chetak scooter or a Maruti 800 car or a BSNL landline telephone or an LPG gas connection.
These types of corruption have mostly vanished with Abolition of industrial licensing Entry of new players with corresponding increase in supply of goods Abundance of foreign exchange reserves Abolition of import quotas Sharp reduction in import duties.
Nature of corruption in the present- Some politicians have found new ways of illegal self- enrichment. These are popularly known as ‘Syndicate Raj’ & ‘Cut Money’. politician-police nexus has also given rise to another kind of extortion racket called “Hafta System” Under this system, all businesses and operators have to make a monthly payment which is shared between the police and the political leaders.
Electoral Bond Scheme:
Under the scheme, Companies can buy tax-free bonds from the State Bank of India (SBI) and deposit these, anonymously, in the bank account of any political party. This aims at replacing black money with white in politics and improving corporate transparency.
Right to Information Act:
Perhaps the single most effective tool available to ordinary citizens for exposing corruption in the last 15 years has been the RTI Act.
In 2019, despite stiff opposition within and outside parliament, the government pushed the RTI (Amendment) Act. The amendment compromised the autonomy of information commissions by allowing the Central government to determine the tenure and salaries of all information commissioners.
In 2019-20, the year the Lokpal was established, it received 1,427 complaints; in 2020-21, it received 110 complaints, and until July 2021, no more than 30. In August 2021, the government in Parliament cited this declining number of complaints to the Lokpal as evidence that “there is hardly anything to complain against”.
Of the 30 complaints during 2021, the latest year for which data are publicly available, 11 were “closed” and the rest are under investigation. The Lokpal does not make available the nature of complaints and how they are handled.
“To break the grip of corruption and black money”, the Prime Minister declared demonetization on 8 November 2016 which took the nation by a complete surprise. The principal objective of demonetisation was to make the black money hoarded in large denomination notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 worthless pieces of paper.
Some suggest that the punishment for corruption needs to be severe if it has to be an effective deterrent. Actually, it is not the quantum of punishment but the probability of getting caught, prosecuted and ultimately sentenced that holds the key.
Here, the honesty/efficiency of regulators, police and judiciary working in a time-bound manner comes into play. These are areas where a lot is lacking in India.