Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Unskilled Graduates

Unskilled Graduates
30 June 2014, New Delhi, Sunil Sondhi

          If university of delhi cannot experiment, it should not exist
The University of Delhi in one of its most daring initiatives ever, introduced some most sought after
skill-based courses in 2013-2014. These included B. Tech. in Computer Science, B. Tech. in Electronics, Bachelor of Management Studies, and Bachelor in Journalism and Mass Communication, amongst several others. All these courses had been introduced after prolonged and rigorous discussion amongst the faculty in the respective departments. And the response of the students to these new courses was overwhelming. All the colleges which offered these courses had hundreds of students lining up for these prestigious courses. Those who got admissions are among the most talented we have in the country. Not only had they secured on average more than 90 per cent in their school exam, they had exceptional problem-solving and teamwork skills.

One year of their study in these courses had not only helped the students to develop their competencies, but it had also helped the teachers and even the colleges and the university to build their respective strengths. These students had participated in hundreds of undergraduate research projects which were unheard of in this university before. The projects of these students had attracted the National Skill Development Corporation to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with DU to provide a programme for Industry-University partnership to develop the skills of the students which would promote employability as well as productivity. Company’s like the Maruti-Suzuki and Infosys had offered to tie up with all the colleges of DU to train the students in practical skills.

All these courses have now been scrapped at one go. They have been replaced with courses like B.Sc., B.A. Pass, and B. Com Pass. Not that these courses of yester years were not good. But these courses have negligible component of skill development and they have long been overtaken by the march of global economy. Globalised economy of India can only progress and compete with countries like China if we build the functional skills of our workforce and not just their composition and debating skills. Our graduates have degrees without skills. What the country and the world needs is skill, even if it comes without a degree. It is no surprise that the private universities and colleges mushrooming in the country offer skill-based courses and hardly any one of them gives conventional B.A. or B.Sc. degree. The professional courses have been withdrawn ostensibly for the reason that procedural lapses have been found in administrative sanctions one year after the coming into operation of these courses. Isn’t this delayed discovery itself a procedural lapse? If one is so keen to enforce adherence to the rules and regulations of DU and the UGC, how come one of the most fundamental regulations is observed more in defiance than compliance? This regulation says that there must be a minimum of 180 days of teaching in the university in an academic year. It is common knowledge that on an average just about 120 days or less of teaching takes place in the university in a year. This has been going on for decades now. No students union or teachers union has ever sought to demand implementation of this regulation and no government agency has ever sought ‘immediate compliance’ to this most fundamental requirement of higher education.

Speaking more generally, if we are indeed so serious about procedures how many houses, factories, offices, and hotels in Delhi have been built or are functioning in accordance with laid down procedures? Haven’t we regularised hundreds of unauthorised colonies in this city, several times, on humanitarian considerations? Isn’t education a humanitarian consideration? Aren’t our young students human beings whose body, mind and heart deserves all the care we can give? Have we become so insensitive and callous that we can no longer feel the pain of our younger ones?
Institutions should certainly follow established rules and procedures. But education is about the young minds, their future, and the country’s future. Of what use are the best of procedures, if the young minds and their future is trapped in fossilised colleges and universities. If a university cannot experiment it should not exist. University contradicts bureaucracy. A bureau must perform a fixed job, university must cultivate an open mind. In an effort to streamline the procedures of the university it has unknowingly strangled innovation on the campus that had just began to bloom after decades of barren education.

The author is Principal, Maharaja Agrasen College, University of Delhi

Teaching Grammar of Anarchy

Teaching Grammar of Anarchy
20 June 2014, New Delhi, Sunil Sondhi

          Constitutionalism and reasoned dialogue are the hallmarks of a vibrant democracy
Underlying the present controversy over the Four Year Undergraduate Programme in Delhi University is divergent perception about policy making. Who makes policy, and for whom? A section of teachers believes that they have an important role in making education policy which should first meet their interests. Another view is that policies should be made by experts with larger social interest in mind. Industrial policy is not made by workers, nor is it made for their interests only.

The FYUP was duly approved after prolonged consultations by the Academic Council and the Executive Council which are empowered under the Delhi University Act to take decisions on structure and content of courses of study. Subsequently it was approved by the Delhi University Court which is the apex authority in the University of Delhi. Dissenting opinions had been expressed during the process of consultations and discussions in the Academic Council and the Executive Council.

Eventually, both the authorities approved the FYUP with an overwhelming endorsement by more than 90 per cent of their respective members. Subsequently, petitions against the FYUP were submitted to the President also, who is the Visitor of the university and has authority to overrule the Councils and the Court. The President did not deem it necessary or proper to intervene and the FYUP was put in operation from end July 2013.

These two authorities, Academic Council and the executive Council, consist of more than one hundred distinguished academicians, who are Deans of Faculty, Heads of Department, and Principals in the University of Delhi. It is because of such outstanding scholars and academicians that DU is the best university in India. They can be expected and trusted to take decisions in the best interests of students. All previous courses of study and structures of degree programmes for past ninety-two years in the University of Delhi have been approved in the same way by the same authorities. The decision to introduce FYUP was therefore perfectly legal and rational in every manner.

Differences of opinion have always existed and will continue to exist over almost any issue under the sun. That has not and should not prevent statutory authorities from taking decisions with best of their knowledge and intentions. Once a decision has been taken after due deliberation by an authorised institution, it must be allowed to be implemented before making an assessment of its success. The FYUP has inbuilt provisions for open and periodic review and assessment, and it allows for necessary changes to make it better serve the purposes for which it was introduced.  Discussion on the FYUP should not be misused to bring down the structure itself under the weight of populism. As Mahatma Gandhi put it so aptly, ‘I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides... But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any’. There are three major advantages of the FYUP over the three year programme. Firstly, it rejects the rigid compartmentalisation of subjects and introduces inter-disciplinary studies in the undergraduate programme. Secondly, it introduces practical skills and project based learning in all the courses of study across all disciplines. Finally, it adds undergraduate research projects as an essential component of college education. Thus, FYUP is a composite programme that builds the comprehension, analytical, and problem-solving capabilities of the students systematically over the four years of study. Four Year Undergraduate Programme has been followed by the engineering and medical colleges in India and abroad since long, and has also been introduced in liberal arts colleges in recent years.

The three year undergraduate programmed had outlived its utility for the youth and the nation long back. Surveys by various agencies, like NASSCOM-Mckinsey Report, had shown, as far back as 2005, that just about 25 per cent of the engineering graduates of Indian universities were employable, for non-engineering graduates employability  was just 10 per cent. The higher education structure and content had lost touch with the fast changing national and global economy. This widening gulf between our educational system and the real life situations was reflected in the rising absenteeism amongst the students and teachers, which averaged almost 30 per cent in government funded universities.

Students were being awarded degrees by the colleges in India without imparting them adequate skills to work efficiently in the manufacturing or service sectors. Information age had not dawned in the colleges of even Delhi University till 2013 as very few students and teachers were skilled in using the web to acquire information. It was only under the FYUP that more than 50,000 laptops and broadband connectivity were provided to all the colleges to make global information sources easily accessible to the students and teachers. It has been possible only under the FYUP to take thousands of students to various parts of the country to relate their college education with the reality of everyday life of the people of India.

The campaign in some sections of the media, and on the streets, for roll back of FYUP within a year of its implementation is an invitation to subversion of the system and will lead to chaos and disorder. If decision making function is taken away from designated institutions it will amount to the disintegration of the university system and uncertainty in the lives of thousands of students. Education policy is too important to be left to teachers and students unions. Which students union has ever supported rigorous study and examination system, and which teachers union has ever supported stringent performance based evaluation or even attendance of the college and university teachers?

Constitutionalism and reasoned dialogue are the hallmarks of a democracy, but disruption of established procedures and norms can only lead to anarchy. B R Ambedkar also echoed the views of Mahatma Gandhi on open society when he said in the Constituent Assembly that, ‘where constitutional methods are open, there can be no justification for the unconstitutional methods. These methods are nothing but the Grammar of Anarchy and the sooner they are abandoned, the better for us’.

The author is principal,
Maharaja Agrasen College,
University of Delhi

Monday, January 7, 2008

South Asia in International Relations

Published in South Asia Politics, Vol. 4. No. 11, March 2006.



The poor ability of the western studies in international relations to describe and explain, much less predict, the behavior of states in the global South is recognized as one of their primary shortcomings. This in part accounts for the tepid reception that this body of scholarship has received within countries not counted among the great powers. Both academic and policy-making circles in the developing and less developed world are skeptical about a theoretical tradition whose claims to universalism not only ignore them, but also act to reify a global order within which they are destined to draw the short straw.

The South Asian Region exemplifies this breach between contemporary studies in international relations and the multifarious problems besetting states and societies in the global South. Until very recently, the violence and social conflicts found in nearly every country of South Asia were not even on IR's radar screen. In this article I will discuss what contemporary IR scholarship may or may not offer in its treatment of the South Asian Region, and of the armed conflicts the South Asian Region in particular. My analysis will be limited to three issues familiar to the developing world, as seen through the lens of South Asia’s current crisis: the correlation of state weakness with violence and instability, the post-territorial nature of security threats, and the North-South power disparity.


Among the multiple critiques of western studies in international relations, their limited relevance for understanding the Third World's place in global affairs has gained increasing attention during the past decade.1 First, the end of the Cold War revealed a more complex world stage with a plurality of actors, problems and interests that had little to do with traditional interstate power relations. September 11 drove home like a sledgehammer the point that the world is about far more than the high politics of Western nations. Today, the poor ability of western studies in international relations to describe and explain, much less predict, the behavior of states in the global South is recognized as one of their primary shortcomings. This in part accounts for the tepid reception that this body of scholarship has received within countries not counted among the great powers. Both academic and policy-making circles in the developing and less developed world are skeptical about a theoretical tradition whose claims to universalism not only ignore them, but also act to reify a global order within which they are destined to draw the short straw.

The South Asian region exemplifies this breach between contemporary studies in international relations and the multifarious problems besetting peripheral states and societies. Until very recently, the violence and social conflicts found in nearly every state of the South Asian region were not even on IR's radar screen. The decades old armed conflict Sri Lanka, the violent opposition to monarchy in Nepal, massive social protests in Bangladesh, and Pakistan’s persistent political and social instability have all been branded domestic issues, and thus not within the purview of systemic IR thinking. Worldwide transformations that have blurred the internal-external dichotomy, however, have prompted some to recognize what has long been common knowledge in the region: local conflicts and problems are completely enmeshed with complex global economic, social and political processes. Pakistan’s conflict is a case in point. Global markets for illicit drugs, links between Pakistan’s armed actors and international criminal organizations, regional externalities of Pakistan’s violence, the explosion of the global third sector's presence in Pakistan, increasing U.S. military involvement, and growing concerns of the international community about the deteriorating Pakistan situation all illustrate the international face of this crisis.

Studies in international relations are in the business of explaining and predicting violent conflict, as well as the behavior of the world's member states in relation to conflict and stability. Although critical and second-order studies of international relations have fundamentally different concerns, substantive theorizing must address what Michael Mann calls IR's "most important issue of all: the question of war and peace." Indeed, realist and liberal studies within the classical paradigm, which share a similar ontology, assumptions and premises, purport to do just that. Given that Kal Holsti's latest figures estimate that 97% of the world's armed conflicts between 1945 and 1995 took place in either the traditional or the new Third World, a viable analytical framework of world politics must be able to integrate the global periphery.

In this short article I will discuss what contemporary international relations studies may or may not offer in its treatment of the South Asian region, and of the armed conflicts in the region in particular. My commentary will be limited to three issues familiar to the developing world, as seen through the lens of South Asia’s current crises: the correlation of state weakness with violence and instability, the post-territorial nature of security threats, and the North-South power disparity. I will conclude with some observations on what this may tell us about the adequacy of the western studies in international relations themselves.

State Weakness

The sovereign state that lies at the heart of the Westphalian model is the building block of mainstream IR thinking. Most scholarship about international politics characterizes the state in terms of power, understood as the capability of achieving national interests related to external security and welfare. Realist and liberal perspectives, and some versions of constructivism, are all concerned with explaining conflictual and cooperative relations among territorially distinct political units, even while their causal, or constitutive, arguments are quite different. Although Kenneth Waltz was taken to task for blithely claiming that states under anarchy were always "like units" with similar functions, preferences and behavioral patterns, much of international relations scholarship persists in a top-down, juridical view of statehood largely abstracted from internal features.

But international legal sovereignty may be the most that the advanced industrialized states have in common with states on the global periphery such as in the South Asian region. First of all, South Asian states’ priority is internal security, not their power position relative to other states. Threats to the state originate within the territory of South Asian states, not in neighboring countries. In spite of some longstanding border tensions and historical rivalries within the South Asian region, India and its neighbors tend to be more concerned with the strength of domestic social movements and armed actors than they are with the international balance of power. Indeed, even in the absence of a regional balancer, strong democratic institutions, dense economic and political networks, or multilateral governance structures, inter-state wars in the region during the late 20th century have been relatively rare. This no-war zone, or negative peace according to Arie Kacowicz, appears to be best explained by a shared normative commitment to maintaining a society of states and to peaceful conflict resolution, contradicting both material and systemic explanations of interstate behavior.

State strength in much of the developing world is not measured in terms of military capability to defend or project itself externally, but rather according to the empirical attributes of statehood: the institutional provision of security, justice and basic services; territorial consolidation and control over population groups; sufficient coercive power to impose order and to repel challenges to state authority; and some level of agreement on national identity and social purpose.

States in the South Asian region all receive low marks for the very features that mainstream IR thinking accepts as unproblematic, and immaterial. Although the states in South Asia are in no danger of immediate collapse, most indications point to a state that has become progressively weaker: the basic functions required of states are poorly and sporadically performed, central government control is non-existent in several jurisdictions, social cohesion is poor, and the fundamental rules of social order and authority are violently contested. Most importantly, the South Asian state fails the basic Weberian test of maintaining its monopoly over the legitimate use of force and providing security for its citizens.
Internal state weakness, ranging from impairment to outright collapse, is the common denominator of post-Cold War global violence and insecurity. It is also the permissive condition of South Asia’s security problem. Reduced state capacity underlies the more proximate causes of the violent competition with and among contending subnational groups. One of the reasons why terrorist and subversive groups have managed a foot hold in South Asia is that the people are fed up with the inequity, poverty, and extravagant corruption in which the state has been mired. Disgusted with the governments and despairing of the prospect for peaceful and incremental change within the existing order, the people are looking for an explanation of their personal suffering and societal degradation. There is little doubt that with force, vigilance and some luck, governments will be able to substantially destroy and disrupt the existing cross-border network of terrorism operating in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and elsewhere. But no amount of military force, territorial vigilance and operational genius can contain a group of suicide attackers that stretches endlessly across borders and over time. South Asian states must ultimately undermine their capacity to recruit and indoctrinate new true believers. That requires getting at the factors that help in spreading terrorism. And one of the principal factors is chronically bad governance. The plain and even brutal fact is that the political and administrative system in South Asian states has not been a great success. Political parties use any means and break any rules in the quest for power and wealth. Ministers worry first about the money they can collect and only second about whether their decisions have any value for the public. Legislators are known to collect bribes to vote for bills. Even military officers allegedly order weapons on the basis of how large the kickback will be. There are instances where soldiers and policemen extort rather than defend the public. In South Asia, the line between the police and the criminals is a thin one, and at times may not exist at all. In the domestic context, therefore, it is evident that the South Asian governments are yet to put in place a coherent political strategy of sustaining a sovereign state, internally and externally. Indeed, some institutions of civil governance in the states like Nepal and Sri Lanka have suffered a complete breakdown in the face of the terrorist onslaught. In fact, in the states of Nepal and Sri Lanka several government institutions are a facade. The police do not enforce the law. Judges do not decide the law. Customs officials do not inspect the goods. Manufacturers do not produce, bankers do not invest, borrowers do not repay, and contracts do not get enforced. Most transactions are twisted to take immediate advantage. Time horizons are extremely short because no one has any confidence in the collectivity and its future. This is pure opportunism: get what you can now. Government does not seem like a public enterprise but a criminal conspiracy, and organized crime heavily penetrates politics and government. In this context, neither democracy nor development can be sustained.
It is, then, no coincidence that ethnic violence, religious bloodletting and civil unrest are tightly entwined with the corruption of cynical leaders. The incapacitated state in South Asia cannot sustain democracy, for sustainable democracy requires constitutionalism and respect for law. Nor can it generate sustainable economic growth, for that requires people with financial capital to invest it in productive activity. In this state of disorder, private companies do not get rich through productive activity and honest enterprise. They get rich by manipulating power and privilege, by stealing from the state, exploiting the weak and shirking the law. Thus it is no wonder that such a weak, and porous state has not been very successful in combating terrorism or fundamentalism. It remains to be seen whether in the long run South Asia’s bloody conflicts become a force for state creation in the Tillian tradition, or on the contrary a structure that has ritualized violent discord as a normal part of social life.

This erosion in capacity and competence has taken its toll on what is perhaps a state's most valuable asset--legitimacy. The South Asian states’ mediocre performance and problem-solving record degrades central authority, reducing public compliance and policy options, and leading to a further deterioration in internal order as para-institutional forms of security and justice emerge. This dynamic has been exacerbated by new mechanisms of global governance and the proliferation of global actors within domestic jurisdictions increasingly perceived as legitimate alternatives to sovereign state authority.

What Jessica Matthews describes as a "power shift" away from the state--up, down, and sideways--to suprastate, substate, and nonstate actors as part of the emergent world order may also involve a relocation of authority. This is particularly apparent in the post-colonial and developing world where the state is less equipped to respond to internal challengers, and sovereignty's norm of exclusivity is more readily transgressed. In South Asia, alternative political communities such as transnational NGO's, religious and humanitarian associations, and global organizations, as well as insurgent and paramilitary groups, are increasingly viewed as functional and normative substitutes for the state.
Global Security Dynamics

At the same time that South Asia's security crisis is in great measure attributable to the empirical weakness of the state, it also highlights another dimension of the emerging global order: the complex interplay between domestic and international security domains. The globalization of security puts into sharp relief the growing discontinuity between fixed, territorial states and the borderless processes that now prevail in world politics. While Realists would point out that current events in North Korea and Iraq are eloquent reminders of the applicability of a traditional national security model in which state-on-state military threats predominate, concerns in South Asia reflect a somewhat different security paradigm.

First of all, insecurity in South Asia is experienced by multiple actors, including the state, the society at large, and particular subnational groups. Security values, in turn, vary according to the referent: national security interests, both military and nonmilitary, exist alongside societal and individual security concerns. Indian society not only seeks security against attacks, massacres, torture, kidnapping, and displacement, but also in the form of institutional guarantees related to democracy and the rule of law, and access to basic services such as education, employment and health care. Many of the internal risks that India and other South Asian nations confront are also enmeshed with regional, hemispheric and global security dynamics that are dominated by state and non-state actors.

While South Asia is typically viewed as being the in eye of the regional storm, the regional crisis is itself entangled with transregional and global security processes, including drug trafficking, the arms trade, criminal and terrorist networks, and U.S. security policies. The remarkable growth in the strength of South Asia’s most destabilizing illegal groups during the 1980s, for instance, is directly attributed to their ability to generate revenue from activities related to the global market for illegal weapons.

These transactions occur within complex transnational criminal associations within and at the edges of the South Asian region, which in turn are involved in global financial, crime, and even terrorist networks. Seen from this perspective, South Asia’s conflicts are not so internal after all: they actively involve dense transborder networks composed of an array of global actors. Such a post-sovereign security setting underscores the necessity for mainstream IR thinking to go beyond its state-centered vision of world politics and to develop conceptual tools better equipped to deal with global realities.

Power and Authority on the Periphery

The notion of formal anarchy in international relations studies coexists uneasily with relations of inequality and domination that pervade world order. While most states in the South would tell you that the exclusive authority with which the institution of sovereignty endows them is not quite equal to that of their more powerful northern associates, neorealists and neoliberals insist that the evident discrepancies among states are mere power differentials within a decentralized international system that lacks a central political authority. Thus hegemony and asymmetrical interdependence as such do not contradict the fundamental IR distinction between anarchy and hierarchy.

Some dominant-subordinate structures, such as the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, may indeed be about more than material differences, however. The immense disparity in economic, political and military power has permitted Washington to impose its will in Pakistan on a wide range of issues similar to a coercive hegemonic project. Nevertheless, Pakistan’s observance of American preferences in its foreign and internal security policy is not exclusively related to overt threats or quid pro quos. The rules of what Alexander Wendt and Daniel Friedheim call "informal empire" are such that inequality can also be characterized as a de facto authority structure.

Authority implies that the U.S. exercises a form of social control over Pakistan, and that in turn Pakistan’s compliance cannot always be explained by fear of retribution or self-interest, but rather suggests some acceptance, no matter how rudimentary, of the legitimacy of U.S. power. Ongoing practices that become embedded in institutional structures can create shared behavioral expectations and intersubjective understandings reflected in identities and preferences. Pakistan’s anti-terrorist posture, for example, that was in great measure shaped by Washington’s militarized war on terrorism, has over time become internalized. Pakistan has appropriated the anti-terrorist discourse of the United States, and become an active agent in reproducing its own identity and interests vis-Ã -vis the illegality and danger of terrorism.

It would be an exaggeration, however, to conclude that Pakistan’s behavior on its shared agenda with the U.S. is completely consensual: the underlying power configuration is a constant reminder that Washington calls the shots. The U.S. reconstruction of Pakistan’s internal conflict into part of its war on global terror, with great uncertainty within the country about its implications for a negotiated settlement, is illustrative. U.S. preponderance can also lead to "increased incentives for unilateralism and bilateral diplomacy," at times directly against Pakistan’s interests. Material inequalities can obscure how third-dimensional power also operates in the informal authority relations between the United States and Pakistan.


The South Asian situation suggests various themes which studies of world politics would be well advised to take into consideration. Western scholars have been largely silent on the issues of state-making and state-breaking that reside at the heart of the Third World security problematic. In neglecting domestic contexts more broadly speaking, this body of scholarship is inadequate for explaining the relationship between violent "internal" conflicts and global volatility at the start of the 21st century. These studies also have a blind spot when it comes to non-state actors in world politics. In overemphasizing states, realists in particular are hard pressed to adequately account for the countless sources of vulnerability of states and societies alike. Security threats, from terrorism to drug trafficking to AIDS, defy theoretical assumptions about great power politics and the state's pride of place in world order. Similarly, non-territorial global processes such as South Asian states’ security dynamics are not well conceptualized by conventional IR levels of analysis that spatially organize international phenomena according to a hierarchy of locations.

South Asia’s experience with sovereignty also calls into question the logic of anarchy in realist and liberal IR thinking and writing. Seen from a peripheral point of view, the notion of formal equality is little more than a rhetorical device that camouflages deep and persistent material and social inequalities in the international system. We thus arrive at the conundrum of a "stable" world order, in IR terms defined by the absence of war among the world's strongest states, wracked by violent conflict and immeasurable human suffering in peripheral regions. Perhaps most importantly, today's global security landscape should prompt us to rethink theories that by and large bracket the non-Western, developing domains and suppress their narratives.

The heterogeneity of the IR discipline cautions us against jettisoning the entire canon as flawed when it comes to the Third World, however. Constructivists' incorporation of a social dimension into an analysis of state identities and interests is a promising research agenda for analyzing non-material aspects of North-South relations. Institutionalism theory has also contributed to our understanding of the role of global institutions and norms in conflict resolution and cooperation in the Third World, and may offer insight into seemingly intractable conflicts such as in South Asia.

Paradoxically, certain realist precepts also have utility for analyzing the international politics of developing states. The distribution of global economic, political and military power has an enormous impact on center and peripheral states alike. As we have seen, the inequality in U.S.-Pakistan relations poses a serious challenge to multilateralism and mechanisms of global governance. In spite of the ongoing reconfiguration of the state in response to global transformations, the sovereign state has proved to be highly adaptive and resilient.

India’s internal weakness, for example, is to be contrasted with the state's increasingly successful political and diplomatic agenda within the international community, even in the face of increasing global constraints. The complexities of India’s security dynamics, which vividly illustrate a non-realist security landscape, nevertheless require that public policies prioritize, delineate and specify threats and responses largely in conventional, military terms. And finally, India’s efforts to recuperate state strength, or complete its unfinished state-making process, as the case may be, suggest that state power remains pivotal to internal, and thus global, order.

Rather than dismissing western IR studies outright for their shortcomings in explaining the problems of countries such as in South Asia, we may be better advised to look toward peripheral regions for what they can contribute to testing, revising, and advancing studies of international politics. Perhaps the explosion of war-torn societies in the Third World and the implications this has for global order will inspire critical analysis of where the theories fail and what they have that is germane to analysis of international relations in the South. Just as there is no single theoretical orthodoxy in IR, neither is the Third World a like unit. With any luck, the diversity of these experiences will lead to new thinking about world politics.

Terrorism and Governance in Kashmir

Published in Journal of Conflict Studies, Vol XXIV, No.2, Winter 2004.

Terrorism and Governance in Kashmir

Sunil Sondhi
Maharaja Agrasen college
University of Delhi

The world community has confronted the threat posed by global terrorism with an unprecedented worldwide coalition that is employing every tool of national and international power at its command: diplomacy, law enforcement, intelligence, financial investigation, military action, and humanitarian aid.
Just as terrorism constitutes a fluid, elusive enemy, so the new anti-terror alliance has assumed new and flexible forms in which different countries assume different levels of action and responsibility. (1) Nations have brought their own experiences, concerns, and even policy differences to this war against terrorism. That was inevitable, and in many ways positive; the diversity and flexible nature of this unprecedented coalition is one of its strengths. However, that also meant that the impact of war against terrorism would not be similar in different regions and countries.
India has been at war against terrorism in Kashmir for much longer than the United States or United Nations. That war has vital military and operational components, which will proceed in different ways for months and probably years to come. But force alone cannot win this war. Victory requires a longer-term, political strategy as well. It is more than clear that one of the main factors that have helped in the spread of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir has been chronically bad governance in that state. The campaign against terrorism in Kashmir can thus be characterized as a strategy for victory that requires the creation of institutions and norms that can achieve the goals of freedom and development.
War against Terrorism

Since September 11, the United States and its allies have been at war against an elusive enemy. The Cold War was an entirely different experience, yet it is not without lessons for the war against terrorism. (2) Already the war against global terrorism has achieved important successes. On the diplomatic front, for example, a UN Security Council resolution, adopted unanimously, obligates all 189 members to end all terrorist activity and support, and to bring the perpetrators of terrorism to justice.

In its unanimous adoption of resolution 1373 (2001) on 28 September 2001, the Security Council for the first time imposed measures not against a State, its leaders, nationals or commodities, but against acts of terrorism throughout the world and the terrorists themselves. It is one of the most expansive resolutions in the history of the Council, with a focus on ensuring that any person who participates in the financing, planning, preparation or perpetration of terrorist acts, or who supports terrorist acts, is brought to justice, and that such acts are established as serious criminal offences in domestic law and regulation with punishments that duly reflect their seriousness.

The Council called upon States to submit to the Counter-Terrorism Committee reports on their implementation of the resolution. The Committee has established subcommittees to review those reports, with the assistance of experts in relevant fields, and it conducts each review in partnership with the State that submitted the report. That partnership may lead the Committee, United Nations agencies and/or certain other States to provide a substantial degree of technical assistance and cooperation to facilitate the implementation of resolution 1373 (2001).

Investigators throughout the world have arrested hundreds of individuals with possible ties to al Qaeda and other terrorist networks. The threat of future attacks remains, but the sustained pressure of police work and intelligence gathering, coupled with military operations in Afghanistan, means that al Qaeda is on the run and its network is being dismantled cell by cell, cave by cave.

Drying up the financial sources of terror is vital to end the terrorist threat. In fact, financial support has been crucial to the recent spread of terrorist activities across the continents.(3) Following the UN Security Council initiatives more than 112 nations have issued blocking orders and frozen assets used to finance terrorism, which have been found everywhere from bank accounts in the United States to relief organizations in Europe and chains of honey shops in the Middle East (4). The 29-nation Financial Action Task Force has played a particularly active role in coordinating efforts to identify and stop financial flows to terrorist organizations.

Diverse Impact in South Asia

In the South Asian region perhaps the most positive impact of the war on terrorism could be seen in Sri Lanka which has witnessed significant easing of tensions since September 11. There is a clear shift in the LTTEs position on a separate country (Eelam) with its chief, V. Prabhakaran, declaring that his organisation was neither for separatism nor terrorism. He also indicated that the LTTE would agree to a political solution within an integrated Sri Lanka, but would be forced to opt for secession if the conflict was not solved through peaceful means.

Some countries among the international community had imposed restrictions on the LTTE after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US. The US attacks, while unrelated to the LTTE, strengthened the then Sri Lankan governments campaign for a global ban on the LTTE. Australia, in December 2001, placed the LTTE on its list of terrorist organisation in pursuance of its obligations under UN Resolution 1373 on the suppression of the financing of terror. On November 8, 2001, following a relentless effort by the Sri Lankan government, Canada also named the LTTE as a terrorist outfit and the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, Canada, issued a new list that included, for the first time, the LTTE. The LTTEs front organisations have a formidable presence in Canada and the Tamil expatriate community there is considered to be a major source of funds for the LTTE. Earlier, on February 28, 2001 the British government had proscribed the LTTE under its new Terrorism Act 2000.

In Bangladesh, a number of transnational Islamist terrorist groups, including the Al Qaeda, had established a presence in alliance with various militant fundamentalist organisations there. (Levitt) (Investigations into the January 22, 2002, terrorist attacks on the American Centre in India’s Kolkata, brought these linkages to the fore. The self-styled Asif Reza Commando Force (ARCF), which claimed responsibility for the January 22 attack, is essentially a criminal group allied to the Harkat-ul-Jehadi-e-Islami, Bangladesh (HuJI-BD). The HuJI-BD has very close links with Pakistan’s external intelligence agency the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). The arrest of Aftab Ansari alias Aftab Ahmed alias Farhan Malik, the prime accused in the American Centre attack, led to further disclosures regarding the international linkages between the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and HuJI based in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Ansari is reportedly linked to the ISI and to Omar Shiekh, a prominent leader of the JeM and prime accused in the abduction and murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl, in Pakistan. These investigations and disclosures have put the Bangladesh government on alert and it has agreed to cooperate with other countries in checking terrorist operation from its soil.

In Nepal, insurgency reached unprecedented levels during late 2001. At that time, the Maoists jettisoned the four month-old cease-fire that they had announced on July 23, 2001, and had launched co-ordinated countrywide strikes on the night of November 23, 2001. The worst among the attacks was the massacre at the Army barracks in Ghorai in which 14 troops were killed and another 30 injured. The Leftwing extremists also looted 99 self-loading rifles (SLRs). Besides, the insurgents have also declared the formation of a ‘Central People’s Government’, implying that they have formed a national-level parallel government. The insurgents were also running a state within a state in their strongholds, including in Rolpa, Rukum, Jajarkot and Salyan districts. It was in these districts that the insurgency began in 1996.

Faced with an unenviable crisis, the Nepalese government declared a nation-wide ‘state of Emergency’ on November 26 and deployed the Royal Nepal Army to counter the insurgents. The Emergency was then extended for another three months, with Parliamentary approval on February 21, 2002. Nepal has received unqualified support from India in its counter-insurgency measures and so far it has been able to contain the threat to its nascent parliamentary democracy.

More of the same in Kashmir

In the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, links between Al Qaeda, the Taliban and terrorists active in Jammu & Kashmir have increasingly been recognised by the global community. It is now being accepted that transnational networks of terrorist groups are operating as autonomous entities quite independent of particular national situations. (5) Outfits such as the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, JeM and Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), which have lately been very active in Kashmir, had direct links with the Taliban and with Al Qaeda. After September 11 a large number of members of the Islamist terrorist network are suspected to have crossed over to Kashmir.

Osama bin Laden’s covert support to terrorist organizations in Kashmir became
overt when he threatened the US with more deaths after 11 September if it continued to support India. Osama included India in the category of Russia, Serbia, and Israel as ‘enemies of Islam’. This statement came close on the heels of a similarly worded threat to India from Jaish-e-Mohammed. Maulana Masood Azhar, the JEM chief, bristled at the freezing of his organisation’s assets by the USA on 11th October 2001.and said, ‘We warn them (Indians) to beware of the mujahideen. We will soon deal them a smashing blow to assert our authority. We will continue the struggle.’

In this context, it bears mention that the objectives of the World Islamic Front for
Jihad against Jews and Crusaders, established by Osama bin Laden in 1998, are far reaching and these include:

* liberation of the Middle East from the ‘clutches’ of Israel;
* ejection of the USA from the Holy Land of Sudi Arabia;
* overthrow of the Saudi monarchy and other corrupt Muslim governments, and ;
* uniting of all Muslim under the umbrella of the Ummah to transcend national borders and establish a ‘Caliphate-style’ government. (6)

After September 11 India tried to convince the US administration, that the former was being targeted by the same terror network which inflicted the September 11 attacks on the US, and this common threat emanated from the same Islamist extremist sources supported by common allies, Pakistan, the Taliban militia in Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden. This threat, consequently, required a common response. While this principle has gained wide acceptance, a degree of ambivalence has persisted in the US responses, as it has sought to manage Pakistan in an unlikely role as a frontline state against terrorism. (7)

Even before the September 11 attacks, Western focus had been shifting, howsoever inadequately, towards the burgeoning danger of international extremist Islamist terrorism located in the Pakistan-Afghanistan axis. It is partially this concern that was reflected in the US State Department's assertion, in mid-2000, that the locus of terrorism has shifted from West Asia to South Asia. (8)

The increased US attention on the sub-continent in the aftermath of September 11, revived calls from separatist forces within J&K and Pakistan for US mediation in the conflict. The US has consistently rejected the idea of mediation unless asked for by all parties involved in the conflict (9). The US administration under President George W. Bush endorsed India’s stance that terrorism was being perpetrated in the State under the façade of a freedom struggle and went a step ahead by declaring outfits manned by Pakistani and other foreign mercenaries, such as the LeT, JeM and HuM, as Foreign Terrorist Organisations. The UK too has banned these organisations.

Following intense international pressure, Pakistan has been taking nominal steps against terrorist outfits based in its territory and operating in J&K. This was more so after the US, on December 26, 2001, termed the LeT and the JeM as Foreign Terrorist Organisations (FTO). In the aftermath of September 11, the US woke up to the fact that the Harkat-ul-Ansar (HuA), an outfit it termed as an FTO in 1997 for its links with bin Laden, was operating in Pakistan under the name of HuM after the proscription. The HuM was termed as an FTO in October 2001. Following this US categorisation, Pakistan proceeded to arrest the top leadership of the JeM and the LeT even while permitting the second line of command to operate freely. JeM chief, Maulana Massod Azhar was first detained for a few hours on December 26, 2001 and then arrested again on December 29, 2001. The former LeT chief, Hafiz Mohammed Saeed was arrested on December 30, 2001. These face saving measures were intended to keep the dollars coming from the US rather than checking cross-border terrorism against India. (10)

Since the insurgency in J&K began in 1988, India has been consistently indicating that the state was a theatre for Pakistan's proxy war. It was only after the December 13, 2001, terrorist attack on Parliament, that the government decided that this proxy war required the threat of a military response and military deployment along the border with Pakistan was built-up.

The consequent face-off between Indian and Pakistani forces strengthened Western perceptions of the Kashmir issue as a potential flash-point for a future nuclear confrontation between India and Pakistan, and the international community has been urging India to avoid an armed conflict with Pakistan and to give President Musharraf more time to curb the activities of terrorist groups based in his country. (11)

India’s and Pakistan’s oft-stated positions on Kashmir were vigorously projected in the context of the September 11 attacks. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, while going public on his support to the US in its global campaign against bin Laden and the Taliban, claimed that this course was being adopted to prevent harm to Pakistan’s "Kashmir cause". In an interview on October 2, 2001, where he was asked about the changing focus of terrorism to Kashmir, he stated that this would be the most contentious issue and "it will not be accepted at all" in Pakistan.

The cosmetic changes within Pakistan in the post-9/11 phase failed to impress the jehadi groups, and there was a continuous succession of attacks in India. In the December 13 attack on India’s Parliament, four fidayeen (suicide) terrorists of the JeM, drove an explosives laden car into the Parliament compound and opened fire. Their entry into Parliament building was prevented by the security personnel. Although one of the fidayeen blew himself up, this failed to cause any major casualties. Eight security personnel and a member of the parliament staff were killed along with the fidayeen. India has stated that the JeM, in collusion with the LeT, had carried out the attack.

In its October 1 attack on the Srinagar Legislature complex, a JeM fidayeen exploded an explosives laden car outside the complex gate. In the ensuing confusion, three JeM fidayeen entered the complex and fortified themselves within. They fired indiscriminately until they were killed by security forces. 38 persons, including the four fidayeen, were killed in this attack.

Fractured Peace Initiatives

Despite peace initiatives and international pressure on Pakistan to abjure terrorism as a foreign policy instrument, terrorist violence has been on the rise in J&K in recent years. As a result, 1067 civilians, 590 security personnel and 2850 terrorists were killed in 2001. This was only a continuation of the escalating trends in year 2000, when peace initiatives failed to check the levels of violence. (12)

Several peace initiatives were undertaken in 2001 and 2002 to address the Kashmir issue. Through an official statement on April 5, 2001, the Indian government invited all Kashmiri groups to participate in negotiations to end the crisis. Two days prior to this, Union Home Minister L.K. Advani announced the nomination of K.C. Pant, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, as the government's nominee for the proposed talks. Initially displaying confusion, the All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) failed to issue an official reaction to the government's invitation for talks, and eventually, on April 28, rejected the government’s offer for talks.

This stand was an endorsement of the views expressed by several Hurriyat leaders, including its Chairman Abdul Ghani Bhat (who were speaking for selves) rejecting the invitation for two reasons: First, the government had failed to permit a proposed APHC delegation visit to Pakistan to confer with terrorist groups based in that country; and second, that the invitation was open to all Kashmiri bodies, which meant that the government was not willing to endorse the Hurriyats self-proclaimed mandate as the 'sole genuine representative' of the State's people. The Hurriyat's official rejection stated: "We are ready to enter into a dialogue with the Centre provided we are allowed to go to Pakistan, and New Delhi accepts Hurriyat Conference as the only representative body in Jammu and Kashmir." Stressing the second point, the statement added that the alliance " not ready to join the crowded train which goes nowhere.”

Abandoning moves to involve the Hurriyat in negotiations, the government decided to respond to the series of signals emanating from Islamabad, which said that the Pakistan government wanted a summit level meeting on Kashmir. The Indian government announcement, which ended the Ramadan cease-fire, also invited Pakistans Chief Executive and thereafter President, Pervez Musharraf, to visit India for a composite dialogue, including the Kashmir issue. Responding to this invitation, Pervez Musharraf, who assumed his country’s Presidency on June 20, 2001, visited India in July 2001. The ensuing summit was variously interpreted as being either inconclusive or a failure.

These trends were only a continuation of the scenario in year 2000 which showed that peace initiatives do not necessarily imply a respite from violence. Casualties in 2001, both among security forces and terrorists, were well above the figures for 2000. The increase in civilian casualties, however, was marginal, and there was also a decline in the total number of incidents recorded. But total casualties were significantly higher, testimony to the increased focus and lethality of violence in the State. The casualties suffered by the security forces showed the most dramatic increase followed by terrorist casualties. The year 2001 had repeatedly seen hopes of peace destroyed by arbitrary acts of violence. (13)

The pattern continued in 2002 with terrorist violence erupting whenever peace moves were initiated. While 44% of the voters turned out to vote during the State Assembly election in October 2002, the state’s cleanest elections were also its bloodiest. In 45 days of campaigning, 46 political activists were killed. Most of them, including a state minister, belonged to the ruling National Conference party. The 1996 elections had witnessed skeletal turnout with 13 political workers getting assassinated.

The new Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, took two steps soon after coming to power - a freeze on Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act and release of militants. These are the cornerstones of his much-vaunted policy of “healing touch”. The tactic was to first to put down “the internal fire of discontent and alienation” in Kashmir, a significant break from the security-centric approach of the past.

However, these initiatives met with immediate response from the terrorists. It began with a suicide attack on a CRPF camp in Srinagar on November 22. The next day the militants blew up an army bus and on November 24 terrorists wreaked havoc on the historic Raghunath temple in Jammu, the state’s winter capital. Together, they accounted for 34 lost lives. What followed was an acrimonious controversy over the state Government’s decision to release 24 jailed militants. There are strong indications that the setbacks on the security front may force the chief minister to abandon plans to free more militants. (14)

Meanwhile, over 400,000 Kashmiri Pandits, out of an original population in the Kashmir Valley of 425,000 prior to 1989 continue to be displaced. Official records indicate that some 216,820 of them live as migrants in makeshift camps at Jammu, another 143,000 at Delhi and thousands of others are now dispersed across the country. Many of those registered at the camps have also been dispersed according to the exigencies of employment and opportunities for education, trade or business. There has been little effort to facilitate their return to the Valley over the past year (2002), as earlier attempts were neutralised by brutal campaigns of selective murder, including the killing of seven Pandits at Sangrama in Budgam district in March 1997, three at Gul in Udhampur district in June 1997, 26 in the massacre at Wandhama in Srinagar district in January 1998, and 26 at Prankote in Udhampur district in April 1998.

The possibility of reversing the terrorists ethnic cleansing of the Valley remains remote, and there are now reports of a hidden migration from some of the border areas in the Jammu region where the Hindus are a minority. This exodus has gained momentum after the gruesome killing of another 24 Kashmiri Pandits in March 2003. These people, including 11 women and 2 children, were brutally massacred at Nadimarg village in south Kashmir on the night of March 24, 2003, pushing the valley back onto a path of blood and violence. Perhaps the most distressing part of this incident was that it all happened in the compound of a police post set up for the protection of the minority Hindu community. Of the nine policemen supposed to guard the Hindus, three were absent. Others were asleep. (15) The Governance Imperative One of the reasons why terrorist and subversive groups have managed a foot hold in Kashmir is that the people are fed up with the inequity, poverty, and extravagant corruption in which the state has been mired. Disgusted with the governments and despairing of the prospect for peaceful and incremental change within the existing order, the people are looking for an explanation of their personal suffering and societal degradation. There is little doubt that with force, vigilance and some luck, India will be able to substantially destroy and disrupt the existing cross-border network of terrorism operating in Kashmir. But no amount of military force, territorial vigilance and operational genius can contain a group of suicide attackers that stretches endlessly across borders and over time. India must ultimately undermine their capacity to recruit and indoctrinate new true believers. That requires getting at the factors that help in spreading terrorism. And one of the principal factors is chronically bad governance. The plain and even brutal fact is that the political and administrative system in Jammu and Kashmir, like several other states in India, has been a miserable failure. Political parties in Kashmir use any means and break any rules in the quest for power and wealth. Ministers worry first about the money they can collect and only second about whether their decisions have any value for the public. Legislators are known to collect bribes to vote for bills. Even military officers allegedly order weapons on the basis of how large the kickback will be. There are instances where soldiers and policemen extort rather than defend the public. In Kashmir, the line between the police and the criminals is a thin one, and at times may not exist at all. In the domestic context, therefore, it is evident that the Indian government is yet to put in place a coherent political strategy of response to terrorism. (16) Indeed, most institutions of civil governance in the state have suffered a complete breakdown in the face of the terrorist onslaught. This includes the state’s prosecution department & judiciary, which, after nearly than fourteen years of terrorist strife, 11,850 civilians and 3,460 security force personnel killed and thousands others injured in the State as a result of terrorist activities till the end of the year 2001, has just 303 under trials and has pronounced only 13 convictions in cases related to terrorism. Only five of these convictions relate to serious offences, while the others are all for relatively minor offences such as illegal possession of arms and illegal border crossing. In fact, in the state of Jammu and Kashmir several government institutions are a façade. The police do not enforce the law. Judges do not decide the law. Customs officials do not inspect the goods. Manufacturers do not produce, bankers do not invest, borrowers do not repay, and contracts do not get enforced. Most transactions are twisted to take immediate advantage. Time horizons are extremely short because no one has any confidence in the collectivity and its future. This is pure opportunism: get what you can now. Government does not seem like a public enterprise but a criminal conspiracy, and organized crime heavily penetrates politics and government. In this context, neither democracy nor development can be sustained. It is, then, no coincidence that ethnic violence, religious bloodletting and civil unrest are tightly entwined with the corruption of cynical leaders. The incapacitated state in Kashmir cannot sustain democracy, for sustainable democracy requires constitutionalism and respect for law. Nor can it generate sustainable economic growth, for that requires people with financial capital to invest it in productive activity. In this state of disorder, private companies do not get rich through productive activity and honest enterprise. They get rich by manipulating power and privilege, by stealing from the state, exploiting the weak and shirking the law. Thus it is no wonder that such a weak, and porous state has not been very successful in combating terrorism. (17) Bringing the State back in It is difficult to resist the temptation to think that the problem is rooted in the culture of this state, or perhaps of the nation, and that there is not much we can do about it. It is true that the state will neither develop its economy nor consolidate its democratic system until its culture changes, but it is wrong to presume that cultural change must lead the way out of the predatory trap. Cultures change only slowly, but institutions can be changed fairly rapidly. And cultures will adapt to new institutional incentives if the institutions work effectively to generate new expectations and norms. Through civic education and organizational efforts new, more civic norms can be generated. But these will be sustainable only if the institutions of a civic community come into place. (18) The state of Jammu and Kashmir needs to be completely overhauled institutionally. These are the institutions that generate a rule of law and a climate of peace, predictability and order: An independent and professional judicial system; ·a transparent and efficient banking system (including an independent central bank); ·effective rules, regulations and oversight agencies governing banking, capital markets and commerce (including contract and bankruptcy laws and business codes of conduct); rules and institutions to restrain corruption by monitoring and when necessary punishing the conduct of public officials;· a system of domestic policing that enables people to invest, produce and exchange free of extortion from the state or criminals; and· a tax system that collects sufficient revenue to finance these and other public goods. (19) In his seminal book on globalization, The Lexus and the Olive Tree, Thomas Friedman calls these institutions the "software" that accompanies a country's basic "hardware" and its "operating system". (20) In the context of this discussion, we can call this software institutional resource in that it facilitates the creation and efficient application of all other forms of resources. A crucial place to begin is with the institutions of "horizontal accountability." This is the process by which some state actors hold other state actors accountable to the law, the constitution and norms of good governance. Some of the key institutions in this regard are the judiciary, the central bank and related oversight institutions, and the electoral commission. These institutions must be resourceful, professionally led and staffed, and independent of political manipulation and control if they are to function effectively. The most urgently important institutions of horizontal accountability are the ones directly charged with controlling political and bureaucratic corruption. Corruption is the core phenomenon of the failed administration in Jammu and Kashmir, as indeed in other states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. It is the principal means by which state officials extract wealth from the society, deter productive activity and thereby reproduce poverty and dependency. Apart from the government officials, landed elites, corporate and political leaders and organized criminal gangs use corruption to purchase access to resources and immunity from the law. Politicians use corruption to barricade themselves in power. Patrons distribute the crumbs of corruption to maintain their client groups. Corruption is to the weak state what the blood supply is to a malignant tumor. Cut it off and the tumor will shrink and die. Cutting it off will be a long, contested process. But powerful, well-designed institutions can make a difference. What is needed most of all is an independent anti-corruption agency. The commission would receive declarations of assets by all significant public officials on a regular basis; and have the staffing, technology and political will to monitor those declarations and prosecute cases of corrupt accumulation and concealment of wealth before an independent tribunal. Such a commission must vigorously monitor the conduct of public officials in every respect, backed up by a state audit commission to audit all public accounts and an Ombudsman's commission to receive and investigate public complaints. It must have the authority and resources to prosecute all types of bribery, embezzlement and violation of the public trust. If corruption is really to be deterred and controlled, convictions must bring serious penalties ­including forfeiture of corrupt assets and of the right to hold public office; and for the most serious offenses, jail. Again, this requires independent and resourceful courts and prosecutors as well. The institutions of horizontal accountability form a self-reinforcing web. An anti-corruption commission must rely in part on the audit agency to uncover theft and misuse of public resources, and on the ombudsman to invite and investigate public complaints. Reduction and deterrence of corruption will be reinforced if an electoral commission can produce sufficiently clean elections to enable citizens to turn out of office the most corrupt public officials. It is a mistake to think that the impoverished masses at the bottom of the corrupted system are so fragmented and hoodwinked that they will happily settle for whatever crumbs of corrupt patronage that are dropped their way. (21) People do learn over time that the system is exploiting them, and information about corruption and injustice does move around rapidly. Or at least it can move around if there is some freedom of information in terms of a pluralistic press and free access to the electronic media. The importance of free and fair elections and free mass media underscores a fundamental point about controlling corruption and exploitation. In Kashmir, accountability cannot succeed if the initiative for it comes only from within the state sector. Horizontal accountability must be reinforced by vertical accountability. In addition to competitive elections and the mass media, NGOs have to play a crucial role in monitoring the conduct of public officials and holding them accountable for their performance in office. No infusion of economic resources, no matter how massive and sustained, will in itself generate development in Kashmir because the problem is not simply a lack of resources or functioning infrastructure. The problem is a more fundamental shortage: of the institutions and norms of democracy and good governance. Unless the state of Jammu and Kashmir is helped to develop institutions that collect taxes, limit corruption, control crime, enforce laws, secure property rights, provide education, attract investment and answer to their own people, the state will not develop and the flow of terrorists from across the border will not subside. This is why the government must not only substantially increase the development budget, but also devote a much larger portion of that budget to democracy and good-governance programs (while deploying more career aid officials with expertise in these fields). The global war on terrorism has won a victory in freeing the people of Afghanistan from the medieval tyranny of the Taliban. The United Nations has certainly degraded and disrupted the terrorist infrastructure of al Qaeda. Other military and intelligence challenges lie ahead. But the challenge India faces is as much political as military. In Kashmir it lies in the daunting task of helping to reconstruct a failed state and to construct for the first time a system of government for that state that is decent, responsible, consensual and ultimately democratic. The war on terrorism cannot stop at military victories. India must help and induce predatory and messy administration in Jammu and Kashmir to develop civic institutions and norms. Only then will the state be able to sustain good governance and development progress, and thereby regain the confidence of the people. Only then can India achieve a lasting victory in the war against terrorism.
References 1. For the history and recent trends in international terrorism see: Walter Lacqueur. A History of Terrorism (New Brunswick: Transaction Books, 2002); Paul Wilkinson. Terrorism Versus Democracy (London: Frank Cass, 2000); Christopher Harmon. Terrorism Today (London: Frank Cass, 2000). 2. Anatol Liven. Fighting Terrorism: Lessons from the Cold War. Carnegie Policy Brief No. 7, October 2001. 3. Richard Labeviere. Dollars For Terror: The US and Islam (New York: Algora, 2000). 4. Matthew A. Levitt. “The Political Economy of Middle East Terrorism” Middle East Academy of International Affairs Journal, Vol. 6, Issue 4 (December 2002). 5 Chris Hill. “A Herculean Task: The Myth and Reality of Arab Terrorism”, in The Age of Terror: America and the World after September 11, edited by Strobe Talbott and Nayan Chanda (Basic Books, 2001). 6. Bassam Tibi. The Challenge of Fundamentalism: Political Islam and the New World Disorder (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998) 7 Hussain Haqqani America’s New Alliance with Pakistan: Avoiding the Traps of the Past. Carnegie Policy Brief, No. 19, October 2002. 8. Ajai Sahni. “The Locus of Error: Has the Gravity pf Terrorism ‘Shifted in’ Asia”. 9. Stephen P. Cohen. A Distant Region Takes Counter Stage: Pulling up the roots of terrorism in South Asia, 10. Peter Chalk, and Chris Fair. “Pakistan, Kashmir and the US War on Terrorism: The need to square the circle”. 11. Stephen P. Cohen, op.cit. 12. KPS Gill and Ajai Sahni. “The J&K Peace Process: Chasing the Chimera”, Faultlines, April 2001. 13. Ramesh Vinayak, “Mufti in a Cleft Stick”, India Today, December 9, 2002. 14. Praveen Swami, “Jammu and Kashmir After 9/11: More of the same”, 15. Rashid Ahmad. “When terrorists kill even babies”, Hindustan Times 24 March 2003. 16. Kanti Bajpai. Roots of Terrorism (New Delhi: Penguin India, 2002). 17. Robert D. Putnam. Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993). 18. Ibid.. 19. Larry Diamond. “Winning the New Cold War on Terrorism: The Democratic Governance Imperative”, 20. Thomas L. Friedman. The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization (New York: Anchor Books, 2000, paperback edition). 21. Andreas Schedler, Larry Diamond and Marc F. Plattner, eds. The Self-Restraining State: Power and Accountability in New Democracies (Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1999).

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Combatting Corruption

The Role of Civil Society
University of Delhi

Fighting corruption has emerged as a key development issue in India in
recent years. More and more policymakers, businesses, and civil society
organizations, have begun to confront the issue openly. At the same time the
general level of understanding about corruption has risen markedly. Until
recently, it was not uncommon to hear someone discuss anti-corruption strictly in
law enforcement terms. By contrast, most people working in the field today
acknowledge that public education and prevention are equally important. The
field has also come to appreciate how critical the role of civil society is for
effective and sustained reform.
A number of factors explain this growing emphasis on fighting corruption.
Expansion and consolidation of democracy at the grassroots level has enabled
citizens to use the vote and new-found civil liberties to confront corruption,
prompting leaders and opposition figures to show a stronger anti-corruption
commitment. Internationally, since the end of the Cold War, donor governments
have focused less on ideological grounds for foreign assistance and
concentrated more on trade and development, both of which are undermined by
corruption. Countries with high levels of corruption, like India, have found
themselves less able to attract investment and aid in a competitive global market.
At the same time, business within the country has faced ever stiffer competition
with the gobalization of trade and capital markets, and has become less willing to
tolerate the expense and risk associated with corruption.
The body of theoretical and empirical research that objectively addresses
the problem of corruption has grown considerably in recent years ( Elliot 1997,
Coolidge and Rose-Ackerman 1997, Gandhi 1998, Gill 1998, Girling 1997, HDC
1999, Kaufmann and Sachs 1998, Mauro 1995, Paul and Guhan 1997, Shleifer
and Vishnay 1998, Stapenhurst and Kpundeh 1998, Vittal 1999, World Bank
1997). A preliminary analysis of the literature shows that corruption in India and
elsewhere is recognized as a complex phenomenon, as the consequence of
more deep seated problems of policy distortion, institutional incentives and
governance. It thus cannot be addressed by simple legal acts proscribing
corruption. The reason is that, particularly in India, the judiciary, legal
enforcement institutions, police and such other legal bodies cannot be relied
upon, as the rule of law is often fragile, and thus can be turned in their favour by
corrupt interests.
Preliminary examination of data from various sources suggests the
formulation of a clear hypothesis concerning the role of civil society in combating
corruption in India. The hypothesis is that the sustenance and success of efforts
to combat systemic corruption in India is directly related to the extent of
participation of the civil society in these efforts. The underlying idea is that
development is not the product of set of blueprints given by the political
leadership independently of the civil society but is often a joint output of the civil
society itself. The pace and direction of the developmental efforts is shaped by
the umbilical relationship between the state and civil society.
Viewed in this perspective, anti-corruption strategies are not simply
policies that can be planned in advance and isolation, but often a set of subtler
insights that can be developed only in conjunction with citizen participation.
Combating corruption is, therefore, not just a matter of making laws and creating
institutions, but rather it is deeply rooted in the activities of the civil society itself.
In recent years significant improvements have been made in the
measurement of corruption, in the construction of composite corruption indices,
and in the design and implementation of surveys. Beyond applying improved
empirics through a multi-pronged approach to surveys, it is now possible to
construct a framework linking the analytical and empirical research with
operationally relevant utilization. We can effectively utilize empirical analysis in
the design and implementation of action programs. The Economic Development
Institute at the World Bank, in collaboration with the Transparency International
and local NGOs, has developed a methodological approach integrating within
one empirical framework the various components identified so far for
understanding and combating corruption. This overall empirical approach links
worldwide database and analysis with determinants of corruption, in-depth
country analysis, and country action program (Kaufmann, Pradhan, and
Ryterman 1998). In this research paper the World Bank framework is used to
understand and explain the role of civil society in combating corruption in India,
and consider recent initiatives for an effective action plan in this regard.
Anti-corruption Analysis and Action
Database Determinants Country Action
and Analysis of Corruption Analysis Programme
*Worldwide and *Political *Political Will *Institutional
Regional data and patronage priorities
analysis *Civil society
*Administrative understanding
*Prevalence labyrinth *Political will
of corruption and government
*Lack of role
*Consequences punishment *Focus groups
of corruption
*Civil society
*Country *Social *Task forces
governance factors environment *Role of inter
Adapted from: Kaufman, Pradhan, and Ryterman (1998).
There is little doubt that corruption in present-day India pervades all levels
and all services, not even sparing the Indian Administrative Service and Judicial
Service. The bureaucracy of the British India was considered to be largely
untainted with corruption. Compulsions of electoral politics in independent India
changed this image and the administrative as well as the police and judicial
services came to be charged with colluding with the political leadership to indulge
in systemic corruption, making a mockery of democratic governance.
The mid-1960s is considered to be the great divide in the history of public
administration in India. It marked the fading away of the Gandhian and Nehruvian
era of principled politics and the emergence of new politics the keynote of which
was amorality. The scams and scandals of the nineties revealed that among the
persons accused of corruption were former Prime Ministers, former Chief
Ministers, and even former Governors. India’s experience with corruption has
shown that laws, rules, regulations, procedures and methods of transaction of
government business, however sound and excellent cannot by themselves
ensure effective and transparent administration if the political and administrative
leadership entrusted with their enforcement fails to do so and abuses its powers
for personal gain.
5.1 Political Patronage
The biggest cause of corruption in today’s India is undoubtedly the political
leadership at the helm of affairs in the country. From this fountainhead of
corruption flow various streams of corrupt practices which plague the political,
economic and social activities in the country. The post-independence political
leadership has risen from the grassroots level in the form of regional, caste,
linguistic and other protest movements. They have transformed the nature of
politics and administration. Amoral politics, self-aggrandisement, disregard of the
constitutional norms in the pursuit of power, political survival at any cost are their
rules of the game. They interfere with the administration of justice and have bent
bureaucracy to do their bidding.
The A.D. Gorwala Report was one of the earliest official documents that
laid bare the problem of corruption in India. For Gorwala, character building was
the basis of state building and the decline in character in India had two
immediate causes in the post-1947 period. The first was the impact of the War.
World War II was an expression of violence and also of greed. Though many
people shared in the war effort, for most it was not their war. The war was boom
time, and people benefited legally and illegally from it. Gorwala added to that the
failure of the national movement to leave behind a spiritual residue among the
people (Vishwanathan and Sethi 1997).
The Gorwala Report was particularly harsh on the role of the political
leadership in setting examples before the public. “Enquiries into allegations have
been made by senior all-India leaders of the principle party…. Often they have
remained secret. Nor action was taken. It seems fairly clear that if the public is to
have confidence that moral standards do prevail in high places, arrangements
must be made that no one, however highly placed, is immune from enquiry if
allegations against him are made by responsible parties and if a prima facie case
exists. There should be no hushing-up or appearance of hushing-up for personal
or political reasons.” (India, 1951).
For the Railway Corruption Enquiry Committee, chaired by J.B. Kriplani,
corruption was a failure of citizen ship. Whether it was the bribe, ticket less travel
or theft, all these were acts which undermined the state. The report ruthlessly
listed the categories of people who refused to pay and their attitude towards it.
Politicians and senior bureaucrats were among those who claimed exemption
from paying for travel on account of their status. The report therefore went on to
insist that “apart from administrative reforms, and punitive measures, there is a
great need for higher officials to play the leaders in a reform movement.” (India,
The strange part of the story of the early years of corruption in India is that
the protection that Jawaharlal Nehru extended to his corrupt colleagues did not
benefit him any way. Wealth could not tempt him in any form, and he had a
typical aristocrats disdain for money. However, by condoning high-visibility cases
of corruption and shielding the guilty, Nehru legitimized graft in high places, and
this undermined the rule of law and the moral basis of the polity (Noorani 1973).
After Independence their was a pressing need to strengthen the needs of the
state, establish high norms of political morality, and make no exceptions in the
punishing the culprit. There are a few failings for which India has paid so heavy a
price as his tolerance of corruption among his colleagues and party men. (Gill,
The role of political leadership in aiding and abetting spread of corruption
in India was most clearly brought out by the Shah Commission of Enquiry
constituted to look into the excesses committed during the period of Emergency
(!975-77). Justice Shah reserved his most damning observations for the role that
Sanjay Gandhi, son of Indira Gandhi, played subverting rule of law in the country.
Shah noted: “ The manner in which Shri Sanjay Gandhi functioned in the public
affairs of Delhi in particular is the single greatest act of excess committed during
the period of Emergency for which there is no parallel nor any justification for
such assumption of authority or power in the history of independent India. While
the other acts and excesses may have been in the nature of acts committed by
functionaries have some shadow of authority acting in excess of their powers.
Here was a case of an individual wielding unlimited powers in a dictatorial
powers without even the slightest right to it. If this country is to be rendered safe
for future generations the people owe it to themselves to ensure that an
irresponsible and unconstitutional centre of power like the one which revolved
around Shri Sanjay Gandhi during the Emergency is not allowed to ever come up
again in any form or shape or under any guise.” (India, 1978).
The nexus between corrupt politicians and corrupt bureaucrats has been
clearly proved in recent years by scams like the Animal Husbandry (fodder) scam
in Bihar (in which the former Chief Minister, some of his ministers, legislators of
the ruling and opposition parties and several senior bureaucrats were charge
sheeted by the C.B.I.), Coal scam in Tamil Nadu (involving the then C.M. Ms.
Jayalalitha), Urea scam (involving the son and a relative of the former Prime
Minister Narasimha Rao), Telecom scam (involving the Union Telecom minister
Sukh ram) etc. Since the corruption flows down from the top it is not easy to stop
it or limit it, and it has a devastating effect on the administration and the society in
5.2 Administrative Labyrinth
Cumbersome and dilatory administrative procedures and practices are
another major cause of corruption in India. India’s legal and administrative
system was designed in the middle of the nineteenth century to serve the
interests of colonial administration. The Indian Penal Code, the main instrument
for controlling crime and administering criminal justice, was enacted in 1860. The
organization and functions of the police are governed by the Indian Police Act of
1861. The Indian Evidence Act came into force in 1872. The Indian Telegraph
Act, which regulates the control of air-waves and licensing of broadcasting
facilities, was passed in 1855-even before the invention of the wireless.
Fundamental Rules and Supplementary Rules, the financial Bibles for all
government financial transactions, were framed in the twenties when the
government’s financial transactions and commitments were very simple.
The British had designed this legal system to strengthen a regulatory
colonial administration. These laws were based on distrust of the ‘natives’ and a
firm belief in their inability to govern themselves. It has in built provisions for
delays, prolonged litigation and evasion. Its provisions are ideally suited to the
promotion of corruption at all levels, as graft provides the quickest immunity from
delays and punitive action. Thus archaic legal system is not only least suited to
the promotion of a democratic, egalitarian, welfare state, it fosters an outlook
which is subversive to social equity. The focal point of colonial justice was the
individual and the protection of individual property rights whereas the emphasis
of a welfare state is on the rights of the society and social justice.
5.3 Lack of Punishment
A contributory factor to the growth of corruption in India is that the cases
relating to corruption are often handled in a casual and clumsy manner. Those in
hierarchy vested with disciplinary powers shirk duty and show unwillingness to
use their powers against corrupt practices. This may be due to different reasons
like political or trade union pressure, vested interests, or sheer ineptitude in
handling criminal investigation. The result is that the corrupt are rarely caught
and even if caught are let off with minor or no penalties. The government officials
entrusted with the responsibility of dealing with corruption do it in a most
inefficient and lethargic manner and this suits the political leadership which
patronises corruption.
The judicial system is so expensive, dilatory, and inefficient that it takes
years and years for corruption cases to be decided. The infamous Harshad
Mehta case of organised corruption in the stock exchanges of India, in which
small investors lost thousands of crores of rupees, has been in the courts for
almost a decade now and as yet there is no indication of its nearing any decision.
The result of such inordinate delay is that the accused often escape punishment
because a long time span has an adverse effect on the evidence in a case. The
conviction rate in the Indian courts is only 6%. There are three crore cases
pending in the Indian courts and average time taken for disposal of cases is from
10-20 years (Vittal 1999). Justice delayed is justice denied in most cases of
5.4 Social Environment
Public administration is a sub-system of the political system which itself is
a part of the larger whole called the social system. Therefore the societal culture
or societal environment has powerful impact on public administration. Put
differently, administration cannot be plucked out from the tissue of culture in
which it is embedded as a member of the wide societal system. A bureaucrat
reflects the spirit and ethos of that society, and his actions are bound be the
manifestation of his cultural moorings.
In present day India, corruption has found an acceptance in the social
psyche and behaviour. Social evils like bribery, nepotism and favouritism have
come to be accepted in the society. People often approach someone known to
them for favours which they know are not legally due to them. Jumping the traffic
lights or a queue or getting the benefits not due to one has become part of social
ethos. A person who has acquired wealth through unfair means is often accorded
the same, if not higher, status in Indian society as that given to persons of
Whatever the people may say in coffee houses or in seminars, they show
awe and respect to the corrupt. Such people are repeatedly elected or appointed
to positions of power, and they go on to distribute the spoils of office to their near
and dear ones. This group psyche is very infertile soil for public morality. In the
ultimate analysis the corrupt politicial or the corrupt administrator is a creation of
the public and is a concrete manifestation of the psychologically corrupt men in
the street with whose approval corruption flourishes with impunity. It is no
surprise therefore that at times the corrupt political leaders walk majestically to
the court and acknowledge their supporters greetings as if they were to receive
award for public service.
In the final analysis, corruption is as much a moral as a development
issue. It can distort entire decision- making processes on investment projects and
other commercial transactions, and the very social and political fabric of
societies. The Supreme Court of India in a recent judgement gave its comments
on the far reaching effects of corruption, and these comments deserve to be
mentioned in some detail. The apex court observed that, " Corruption in a
civilised society is like cancer, which if not detected in time is sure to malignise
the polity of the country leading to disastrous consequences. It is termed as a
plague which is not only contagious but if not controlled spreads like a fire in a
jungle. Its virus is compared with HIV leading to AIDS, being incurable. It has
also been termed as royal thievery. The socio-political system exposed to such a
dreaded communicable disease is likely to crumble under its own weight.
Corruption is opposed to democracy and social order, being not only anti-people,
but also aimed and targeted at them. It affects the economy and destroys the
cultural heritage. Unless nipped in the bud at the earliest, it is likely to cause
turbulence shaking of the socio-economic political system in an otherwise
healthy, wealthy, effective and vibrating society" (AIR 2000, SC 870).
6.1 Economic Development
Some fairly robust statistical evidence has now been furnished showing
that higher corruption is associated with (i) higher (and more costly) public
investment; (ii) lower government revenues; (iii) lower expenditures on
operations and maintenance; and (iv) ensuing lower quality of public
infrastructure. The evidence also shows that corruption increases public
investment, by making it more expensive, while reducing its productivity.
A recent study by the Peruvian economist Paolo Mauro (1995 and 1998)
found that a corrupt country is likely to face aggregate investment levels of
approximately 5 percentage points less, than a relatively uncorrupt country. The
evidence from India is particularly stark. If corruption levels in India were reduced
to that in the Scandinavian countries, investments rates could increase annually
by some 12 percent and the GDP growth rate by almost 1.5 percent each year
(Gandhi 1997). Corruption also acts as an additional tax on investment by
lowering the potential return to an investor on both the initial investment and on
subsequent returns. In India, current corruption levels mean that the implicit
corruption tax on investment is almost 20 percentage points (Gandhi 1997).
The impact of corruption on the quality of public infrastructure is all too
clearly visible in the towns and cities of India. The Public Works Department and
the State Electricity Boards which are largely responsible for the maintenance of
roads and management of power distribution respectively, are among the most
corrupt government departments in India. In the capital city of Delhi itself the
transmission and distribution losses in the power sector are estimated to be over
50% out of which almost 30% is attributed to theft which is done with the
connivance of the electricity board employees. A former Chairman of the Delhi
Electricity Board (DVB) was very recently suspended and charged with amassing
assets worth over 14 crore rupees, which is almost a hundred times more than
his known sources of income. Such massive corruption is certainly one of the
main reasons for perennial power shortages and frequent breakdowns in the
Corruption also reduces the government’s resources and hence its
capacity for investment, since tax revenues are depleted by tax evasion (Jain
1998, Shahid 1991). This has two adverse effects: first, shifts away from
investments in development areas occur as bribe-takers are less likely to invest
in activities with significant positive social benefits like education and health.
Second, overall investment levels may fall, since conspicuous consumption or
flight of illegal earnings is probably higher than legal earnings. The high potential
for capital flight of illegal earnings makes corruption more likely to be associated
with a negative impact on the balance of payments (HDC 1999).
India’s Chief Vigilance Commissioner recently observed that,” India’s
economy today is a standing monument to the corruption and inefficiency of four
specific departments, namely, Customs, Central Excise, Income Tax and
Enforcement Directorate. It is the evasion of taxes and the failure of these
departments to check illegal activities that has crystallised into the large
percentage of black money in the economy. The quantum of black money has
been estimated from Rs.40,000 crores to Rs.100,000 crores. Whole industries
today depend on black money. The film industry, a substantial part of the
construction industry and a large number of small industries are run on the basis
of black money " (Vittal 1999).
6.2 Social Welfare
The damaging effects of corruption on investment and economic growth
are widely recognised. But corruption also has adverse effects on human
development. First, corruption reduces the availability and increases the cost of
basic social services. Access to core social services can be easily restricted with
the intention to make corrupt gains. For instance, a government doctor may
deliberately store away free medicines until he is bribed, a police inspector may
deny a First Information Report to a victim until he is paid a kickback, and a
principal may refuse to admit a child in a school until he is paid under-thecounter.
Since obtaining access to basic public services normally requires an
illegal cash payment, corruption also raises the price of these services.
Second, in addition to a decrease in total government expenditure (due to
tax evasion), corruption also shifts government expenditure from priority social
sector spending to areas, where the opportunities for rent-seeking are greater
and the possibilities for detection are lower. Allocating government funds to a few
large defense contracts or mega-projects may seem more attractive to corrupt
bureaucrats and politicians than spending the same money to build numerous
rural health clinics (Bardhan 1997). Similarly, there may be a temptation to
choose more complex technology (where detecting improper valuation or overinvoicing
is more difficult) than simpler, and more appropriate technology.
6.3 Political System
Politically, corruption increases injustice and disregard for rule of law.
Basic human rights and freedoms come under threat, as key judicial decisions
are based on the extent of corrupt bribes given to court officials rather than on
the innocence or guilt of the parties concerned. Police investigations and arrests
may be based on political victimisation or personal vendettas rather than on solid
legal grounds. Commenting on the socio-political consequences of corruption the
Supreme Court of India observed in the judgement cited above that corruption
in a civilised society was a disease like cancer. If not detected in time it was sure
to turn the polity malignant leading to “disastrous consequences”. The apex court
said a socio-political system exposed to such a dreaded communicable disease
was likely to crumble under its own weight.
Looking at the number of agencies created to tackle corruption, it is
apparent that the government has been keen to eradicate this malady. Even
before Independence, the colonial rulers had established the Delhi Special Police
Establishment (DSPE) to control corruption which surged during the Second
World War. The Prevention of Corruption Act was passed in 1947 (Ramakrishna
1997), and an Administrative Vigilance Division (AVD) created in the home
ministry in 1955. Vigilance officers were appointed in each ministry to enquire
into charges of corruption against employees in these organisations. Then, owing
to mounting public criticism, a Committee on Prevention of Corruption was
appointed in 1962 under K. Santhanam to examine this issue in depth and
recommend remedial measures. As a result of its recommendations, the Central
Vigilance Commission (CVC), independent of ministerial control was set up in
1964. Another important measure during the early decades was the creation of
the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in 1963, which incorporated DSPE as
the Investigation and Anti-Corruption Division (Gill 1998).
7.1 Political Commitment
This elaborate and multi-layered apparatus to control corruption could
hardly make a dent on the situation because of lack of political commitment on
the part of political leadership in the states and at the center. It is more than clear
all these institutional arrangements to combat corruption can be useful only if
correctives come from the political class which is the final legislative and
executive authority in a parliamentary democracy. The waywardness of the
politicians can be curbed only from within, there is no agency which can
continuously impose probity from outside. Unless the politicians are made to
differentiate private conscience from public morality, and personal profit from
national interest, the ongoing unrestrained plunder of the exchequer cannot be
stopped. The case of Bihar during the past decade shows that all anti-corruption
instruments and strategies come to naught against a political leadership which
has a vested interest in continuing corruption. Similarly, the spate of criminal
cases in which a former Chief Minister of Tamilnadu, Jayalalitha, was herself
involved shows that during her tenure political and administrative corruption
could not have been checked effectively primarily because of the political
patronage she had given to corrupt practices.
7.2 Administrative Accountability
Another essential component of anti-corruption strategy is the strict
enforcement of the principle of accountability at all levels. In India the
government performs vast functions over a wide range of areas of public
concern. Decisions are taken at various levels of government in which
discretionary power may be involved. The present situation is that there is
general lack of accountability in administration. Almost everyone in the public
services is accountable to no one and is considered above the law. Respect for
the rule of law is woefully uncommon and it is often noticed that those who
violate the law in the most blatant fashion are the ones who get away the easiest.
The judiciary has a key role in ensuring that political and administrative
power is used only in accordance with law and every one is held accountable for
wrong doing or misuse of authority. Recent decisions given by the judiciary have
created a hope for corrective action. The apex court and several high courts have
upheld cases against political and administrative functionaries at the highest
levels. The cases involving former chief ministers of Tamilnadu and Bihar are
illustrative of judicial activism that has come to the rescue of rule of law against
the custodians of law themselves. The recent action of the Central Vigilance
Commissioner of putting the names of administrative and police service officials
on the internet against whom charges of corruption are pending has also gone a
long way in instilling the sense of responsibility and accountability among these
7.3 Procedural Simplification
As explained earlier administrative delay is one of the major causes of
corruption. Therefore to reduce or control corruption it is necessary to eliminate
such delays. For that it is essential that office procedures should be simplified
and levels of hierarchy reduced. In the Indian situation the persistence of archaic
structures has played havoc with the developmental initiatives. After
Independence the country framed an entirely new political and economic agenda
and this required new, matching structures for effective implementation, as the
old administrative and legal systems clashed with the substance and spirit of the
new agenda. And it is this mismatch between politico-economic agenda on the
one hand and the administrative and legal structures on the other which is
primarily responsible for the poor performance of the government.
Instead of the present system in which official files take rounds of several
offices before a decision is taken, new pattern of decision-making, which is
transparent and simple, needs to be evolved. This requires reorganisation of
government departments so as to reduce from nine to four the levels through
which a case is processed today (Gill 1998). Such simplification and
rationalisation is specially necessary with regard to all developmental projects in
the infrastructure areas because inefficiency and corruption in these areas
makes the whole socio-economic system unstable. There is need for singlewindow-
decision system for all industrial projects, both in manufacturing and
service industries. Official forms have to be brief and simple so that unnecessary
complications do not hamper time-bound implementation of projects. Latest
management techniques and methods need to be incorporated into the
functioning of all public services and public sector projects so that their efficiency
and productivity keeps up with their social obligations.
7.4 Civil Society Participation
Civil society is considered as the realm of association between the
household and the state. Typically this includes professional organisations as
well as other formal and informal non-profit associations. Such associations fulfil
certain functions essential for aggregating and expressing societal interests,
including social integration, social participation in state governance, and
promoting the democratic values. Through its many functions, civil society can
create pressure for policy reform and improved governance, as well as explicitly
monitor the state’s actions for fighting corruption and abuse. In other words, the
civil society addresses the will of the state to operate in an accountable,
transparent and responsive manner.
Civil society organisations have a key role to play in combating corruption.
In fact, the task of ensuring sustained political commitment, administartive
accountability, and procedural simplification can be achieved more quickly if
vigilant and active civil society organisations take up the responsibility of
interacting with the government organisations. Civil society is, in the end, the
stakeholder and the ultimate affected party of corruption and thus must be
engaged constructively to get the support and buy-in for the necessary reforms.
Only in this way can the necessary policy and institutional changes become
viable and sustainable. Countries that are supportive and hospitable to civil
society bodies-through hearing arrangements in their regulatory and legislative
procedures, involving them in oversight institutions, etc,- have in fact enabled the
organic and internally driven evolution of policies and institutions to changes in
In recent years a growing number of structures, institutions and
associations-outside state apparatus and profit-making businesses-have evolved
in India for the joint pursuit of shared interests. Chambers of commerce,
professional associations, various forms of non-governmental organisations have
become players, shaping opinions, building coalitions, providing testimonies,
monitoring government and enterprises. The Report Card methodology
developed by the Public Affairs Center in Bangalore is an innovative instrument
to track down and expose corruption in public services (Guhan and Paul 1997).
Similarly, the Common Cause in Delhi has done considerable work in the area of
public interest litigation which has served the purpose of dragging corrupt officials
to the courts. The Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan in Rajasthan has done
commendable work in making public information regarding development projects
in the state. Such information has served to expose instances of bureaucratic
A sustainable participatory process, extending far beyond the initial
awareness-raising and mobilization stages, is crucial for the implementation of
the reforms. The experience of the scorecard method mentioned above
illustrates how powerful such integration can be. The periodic application of the
scorecard evaluation of local public services by the citizenry (including reporting
on bribery and extortion), as well as the discussion and dissemination following
each survey, provides continuous support for anti-corruption efforts at the local
The Government of India too has now become aware of the need to
integrate public policies with public participation. At a Conference of Chief
Ministers of Indian States in May 1997, the Department of Administrative
Reforms and Public Services evolved an “Action Plan on Effective and
Responsive Administration”, based on the responses and reactions from officials,
experts, voluntary agencies, citizen’s groups, media, etc. Among the various
steps initiated in this respect, a core group was formed for the formulation and
monitoring of Citizen’s Charter by identified Ministries with substantial public
interface (Kashyap 1997).
The development and use of an interactive web site by the Central
Vigilance Commission since January 2000 is a positive step in the direction of
keeping people informed and involved in the framing and implementation of anticorruption
strategies. Currently the Chief Vigilance Commissioner, N. Vittal, is
pursuing a proactive three-point operational strategy to fight corruption in India.
The three points are (i) simplification of rules and procedures; (ii) greater
transparency and empowerment of the public and (iii) effective punishment. In
this strategy citizen participation has a key role. The civil society could
participate in these efforts through the NGOs by bringing corrupt practices to the
notice of the powers that be and also effectively help in operations like the
trapping of corrupt persons or informing the CVC about the disproportionate
assets of the corrupt public persons against whom raids can be undertaken by
the CBI and the Income Tax Department (Vittal 2000).
Another notable instance of citizen involvement in combating corruption is
the launching of Satyagrah (non-violent protest) by S.D. Sharma, an
octogenarian freedom fighter and Vice-Chairman of the Transparency
International-India, against political corruption and for honest and efficient
governance. Established in 1997, the Transparency International-India has been
playing a significant role in fighting corruption through Gandhian methods of non26
violent mass mobilization. It has now undertaken to organise 24 hour relay fast
concurrently with the sessions of the parliament, to remind the government and
the parliament that they have failed in their duty to the country to take effective
steps for eliminating corruption from their ranks (Sharma 2000).
A participatory process involving citizens in the formulation and monitoring
of anti-corruption strategies is thus taking roots in India. As more and more civil
society organisations become involved in this process and take steps to both
formulate and implement anti-corruption strategies it can be expected that in the
coming years efforts to combat corruption should yield positive results.
There is a much better grasp today of the extent to which corruption is a
symptom of fundamental institutional weaknesses. Instead of tackling such a
symptom with narrow intervention designed to “eliminate” it, increasingly it is
understood that the approach ought to address a broad set of fundamental
institutional determinants. However, the challenge of integrating this
understanding with participatory process has barely begun. The implementation
of institutional reforms can benefit significantly from the participatory process that
is being developed for anti-corruption activities. Equally important, any
participatory process, however sophisticated, ought to lead to concrete results
beyond enhanced participation and heightened awareness.
Thus, identifying key institutional reforms in India, and mobilizing support
for such reforms, needs to be fully integrated into the participatory process from
very early on. Such early convergence is likely to promote a better balance
between prevention and enforcement measures in addressing corruption. Until
recently, the pendulum was firmly in the “enforcement” corner. The gradual swing
towards middle ground has taken place due to recognition of the limitations of ex
post legalistic enforcement measures, since rule of law institutions themselves
are currently part of the corruption problem in India.


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