MUMBAI: In 2010, India figured 87, down three rungs from 2009, in the Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index. That India is slipping even further was brought to home when Huguette Labelle , chair, Transparency International Germany, alluded that a recent survey revealed that the two in four people paid bribe in India last year as compared to one in four in other countries.
The debate, aptly named, ‘The Indian Spring: Seeking independence from Corruption’ was postponed for about two hours as the feisty Kiran Bedi of Team Anna, saw her flight from Kolkata diverted to Nagpur due to a technical glitch. The debate would have been a non-starter in her absence as the moderator Nik Gowing of BBC, the main presenter felt without her, the balance to the panel would be lost.
Thanks to Anna Hazare and Team Anna, the topic has found a connect among businessmen attending the Indian Economic Summit held under the aegis of the World Economic Forum on Sunday meeting. The audience spilled over to the sidelines of the large Tadoba room. Ashwani Kumar, the minister of state for planning, science and technology and earth sciences, fielded for the government, the debate had its share of fireworks as the former police officer Bedi took on the selfassured minister who didn’t have to tell everyone that he was lawyer by training, as he fobbed off some of the contentious charges against the government.
“There is aresonance in the country on corruption” , the minister said, “but the means and ends are always important” . The minister was obviously showing his displeasure to the constant return to a ‘hunger fast’ and agitation by Hazare and his team. “We cannot have legislation under public unrest,” the minister said. Bedi, ever combative, said the movement has only “deepened democracy”.
When the law (Lokpal bill) comes, it would be historical as the common man has participated in this movement,” she added. “We’ll go back to agitation,” Team Anna’s stormy petrel warned. To the minister’s statement that the Parliament should do its business without being pressured by groups such as Team Anna, Bedi said their efforts meant short-term pain to get long-term gain. Adi Godrej said that corruption was quite “widespread”.
It was rampant not just in business to government dealings but also at lower levels of the society, which was more difficult for people to tolerate.