Lokpal is a good beginning, but more needs to be done

After eight unsuccessful attempts in the last five decades, the Lokpal Bill finally saw light of day on December 18. However, it is important to understand that the Bill, although a good beginning, is not a magic wand that will banish corruption overnight. To be effective, it must be part of a series of parallel actions, so that we have an effective architecture against corruption.

What should that architecture look like? It must include, in the first instance, four other steps: One, reform of funding and financial accountability of political parties. Two, a systematic increase in the neutral intervention of technology into as many areas as possible where the common man has to deal with government. Three, finalisation of a model legal framework ensuring transparency and fair play in all transactions relating to the disposal and acquisition of national resources and government procurement processes. Four, instituting deterrent action in a timebound and exemplary manner for all acts of corruption, which, in turn, presupposes substantive judicial reforms.

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The passage of the Lokpal Bill is great , let us, however make sure it is implemented

The lokpal legislation’s journey of over four decades ended on Wednesday with its passage by  Lok Sabha. This is welcome. After a tortuous journey, its last phase was speeded up considerably when people had almost given up hope. Praise is due to Congress, BJP as well as Anna Hazare for facilitating legislation that’s an important step in the fight against corruption in public life. To be more effective, it needs to be complemented by other legislation such as one protecting whistleblowers, and enhanced investigative and prosecution skills.

While we should certainly celebrate the passage of the Lokpal Bill, its eventual impact will be contingent on ground level implementation. India’s legislative history has seen many laws grand in ambition, but their impact on society has been poor. A law can never offset the inability to get things done and this is where the state has repeatedly tripped up.

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