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Pandemic and its impact on governance in the state of Delhi

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    23rd Nov, 2021

Context

After witnessing a brief slowdown following the advent of the pandemic last year, there is allegedly a rise in corruption in Delhi Government’s departments to get the work done.

  • Governments are playing a bigger role in the economy and this increases opportunities for corruption.

Analysis

How does Covid-19 affect economic governance in Delhi?

  • First, state government around the world is playing a bigger role in the economy to combat the pandemic and provide economic lifelines to people and firms. This expanded role is crucial but it also increases opportunities for corruption.
    • To help ensure the money and measures are helping the people who need it most, the state government needs timely and transparent reporting, ex-post audits and accountability procedures, and close cooperation with civil society and the private sector.
  • Second, as public finances worsen, countries need to prevent tax evasion and the waste and loss of funds caused by corruption in public spending.
  • Third, crises test people’s trust in government and institutions, and ethical behavior becomes more salient when medical services are in such high demand. Evidence of corruptioncould undermine a country’s ability to respond effectively to the crisis, deepening the economic impact, and threatening a loss of political and social cohesion.

What are the long-term reforms which are required beyond the crisis?

  • A joint effort with civil society and the private sector.
  • It also involves political will and the assiduous implementation of reforms over months and years.
  • Improve governance in areas such as tax administration, expenditure oversight, fiscal transparency, financial sector oversight, and anti-corruption institutions.
  • Complete overhaul of the network of primary health centers, which is the base of our public healthcare system.

What steps the government can take to prevent the menace of corruption?

  • Demand greater accountability
    • Following the maxim “we get the government we deserve", we need to unite citizens to press for greater accountability and effectiveness from government institutions. This has already startedas civil society organizations are building coalitions to hold the government to account and defend government whistleblowers
  • Commit to transparency
    • Business leaders must also commit to fair dealing and must exhibit transparency and accountability
    • Businesses should join civil society’s call for greater accountability from governments because they too must live with the consequences should governments fail.

What are the consequences of corruption?

  • It degrades the social and moral fabric of the society, erodes the credibility of the government, and leads to exploitation and violation of fundamental rights of the poor and marginalized by the state. For instance, diversion of PDS ration deprives the poor violates their right to food.
  • It hampers ease of doing business. As the recently released Global Competitiveness Index has pointed out “The private sector still considers corruption to be the most problematic factor for doing business in India”.
  • The rising inequality due to poor outcomes of the welfare schemes such as ICDS, NRHM (scams have been unearthed in many states like UP), NREGA, etc. is another result of the leakages and diversion of the resources to ghost beneficiaries.
  • Corruption in the tax administration leads to high tax evasion generating black money – an offspring and food of corruption. According to various estimates, the size of a parallel economy in India is as much as 50% of GDP
  • As many CAG reports which were instrumental in unearthing major scams like 2G and coal mines have pointed out, the state bears huge losses due to nepotism and corruption – money that could have been used in the social sector or infrastructure creation.
  • Corruption increases the cost of production which ultimately has to be borne by the consumer. In the project execution such as roads and bridges, it leads to the adoption of poor quality of material claiming the lives of many due to the collapse of the system.
  • Illegal lobbying has led to elite bias in state policies. For instance, tertiary healthcare and higher education receive more political and policy attention than primary health and education
  • Various researches have pointed out a direct correlation between corruption, poor quality of public services, and criminalization of politics.

Lokpal and Lokayukta

  • The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013 provided for the establishment of Lokpal for the Union and Lokayukta for the States.
    • The Bill was passed in 2013 in both the Houses of Parliament and came into force on 16th January 2014.
  • These institutions are statutory bodies without any constitutional status.
  • They perform the function of an "ombudsman” and inquire into allegations of corruption against certain public functionaries and for related matters.
  • The term Lokpal and Lokayukta were coined by Dr. L. M. Singhvi.
  • Composition:
    • Lokpal is a multi-member body that consists of one chairperson and a maximum of 8 members.
    • Out of the maximum eight members, half to be judicial members and a minimum of 50% of the Members will be from SC/ ST/ OBC/ Minorities and women.
    • The Chairperson of the Lokpal should be either the former Chief Justice of India or the former Judge of Supreme Court or an eminent person with impeccable integrity and outstanding ability.
  • The term of office for Lokpal Chairman and Members is 5 years or till the age of 70 years.
  • Jurisdiction of Lokpal includes Prime Minister, Ministers, Members of Parliament, Groups A, B, C, and D officers and officials of Central Government.
    • However, the jurisdiction of the Lokpal included the Prime Minister except on allegations of corruption relating to international relations, security, the public order, atomic energy, and space.
    • The Lokpal does not have jurisdiction over Ministers and MPs in the 

Way Forward

  • Strengthen oversight institutions?to ensure resources reach those most in need. Anti-corruption authorities and oversight institutions must ?have sufficient funds, resources?, and? independence ?to perform their duties.
  • Publish relevant data and guarantee access? to informationto ensure the public receives easy, accessible, timely, and meaningful information.
  • All agencies should cooperate to eradicate corruption. Preventive corruption measuresmust be appreciated and adopted as “Prevention is better than cure”.
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