The Central Vigilance Commission has asked all government offices, colleges and schools to celebrate Vigilance Awareness Week from October 31st (birth anniversary of Sardar Patel) to November 5th. As usual, several government offices are going through the usual motions of taking a pledge not to take bribes, announcing transparency in all affairs, promising no delays in meeting the needs of the public and chanting the mantra of accountability. But do these motions really make a change? They are duly forgotten soon after the celebration.
However in the case of Mysore, we do not even seem to know about the vigilance awareness week. There is no mention of it in any media. Is it because there is so much corruption in Mysore in every walk of life that we have given up any hopes of eradicating it in our life time? Or is it because like the cleanest city award we got two years in a row, corruption is totally absent in public life here in Mysore? The latter is not the case. There is not a single government office which is free of corruption. As a result in some offices even if officers do not expect any mamool, public automatically offer it.
The worst case of corruption which is eating into the vitals of our society is the return elected representatives expect to get after spending lakh of rupees. It is a well known fact that no government work can be undertaken without paying 15 to 30% of the contract value to concerned elected representatives in the place where that work is undertaken. Customary payment starts from corporators to MLAs, and MLCs. Contractors are expected to pay it once the contract is awarded even if there was no involvement of the elected representatives in awarding the contracts. When Rajiv Gandhi made the famous statement that only 25 to 20% of government expenditures result in helping the society, this system of customary payment to elected leaders was not there. One wonders currently what is the percentage of useful work done when the government spends money?
There must be some elected representatives in Mysore who are honest and dedicated for public cause. If we knew about the Vigilance awareness week earlier, we could have identified such illustrious leaders and honored them. Can we at least do that during the next year’s vigilance awareness week? Despite all the pessimism of fighting corruption, MGP still believes that if the public come together, we can eradicate it.
-By Dr Bhamy V Shenoy
(The writer is president of Mysore Grahakara Parishat)