Combating Corruption: Is the Jan Lokpal (Ombudsman) Enough?

By | December 2, 2015

On 15th August’ 1947, India woke up independent from British rule. India inherited a lot of legacies from the British from Communal violence to railways to airways. One thing India was not able to inherit were the work ethics of British. The dilution of these work ethics in due course made India fall into the clutches of corruption, a disease which has eaten into most of its systems.


Corruption simply means using a public office for private purposes. There can be innumerable ways in which corruption can be done. Nepotism, Red Tapism, taking Speed Money, Favouritism, embezzlement of funds, using public employees for private work etc. are only a few of them.

The extent up to which it has bothered the common people is evident in the mass protests spearheaded by Anna Hazare for a strong Lokpal Bill. The bill envisaged a separate watchdog to look into the allegations of corruption against government office bearers. However, only forming a strong Jan Lokpal can’t simply curb this menace. There is something more fundamental to it, which needs to be understood and acted against.

Traditional Indian society was known for its ethics and morality around the globe. So what has changed now? India retired religion in the garb of secularism too early after independence. Religion is one of the strongest factors in building an ethical and moral character. There has been an increased acceptance of corrupt practices in our everyday lives. It is a matter of fact that the societies which left religion in their nascent stages have been the worst affected by it. China can be cited as another befitting example. This perception needs to change. Indian society has to go through an ethical makeover.

Gandhiji was a follower of religion. He believed that religion had the ability to instill a feeling of ethical and moral behavior in people who follow it. Most of his ethical and moral principles of non violence, truth and the strength to follow them, were all derived from religion.

Although a strong ombudsman (Jan Lokpal) is a step in the right direction, laying back only on it would not suffice. What is needed is an ethical cleansing of the society, mostly civil servants, that too the cutting edge bureaucracy. The government needs to impart moral and ethical training to its personnel. As a long term solution, the students must be taught ethics and morality in schools. They should be sensitized about the menace of corruption, the benefits of an ethical character. Thus, the setting up of an institution of Ombudsman though necessary, is not sufficient.

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