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   Sunday, October 21, 2018
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Free Will
By D-Sector Team


Many feel that all hullabaloo on corruption may not rattle the business-as-usual scenario! A peep into the latest developments with the controversial scheme for elected parliamentarians may confirm such apprehension. Each MP has Rs 5 crore each year at his/her discretion for promoting 'local area development'. Whatever it may mean, the privileged members can now assign works under MPLADS scheme without calling tenders and they have liberty to engage any agency or assign the task to any NGO.The only clause being that the assigned party should fit into the subjective interpretation of being of 'national reputation' .
 
That the scheme is under Comptroller & Auditor General's scanner for 'irregularities' doesn't concern the government a bit. Far from taking cognizance of irregularities pointed out by CAG, the Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation has gone to the extent of suggesting that MPLADS funds can henceforth be used for works on 'private lands'. With an estimated Rs 21,300 crore riding on members in each session of the parliament under the scheme, the chance for public money to be squandered for private purposes cannot be ruled out. There is enough evidence to suggest that 'that' might indeed be the case!



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Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

Lead View
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By Rina Mukherji
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