Leadership Sans Ego
It is essential to have leadership committed to ethical practices if corruption is to be combated, but again this is easier said than done. In our country, it is common practice for the political leadership to transfer inconvenient heads of public projects or at least pressurize them to do their bidding, even if the schemes themselves suffer as a result. The national highways project is a glaring example, so many of its chairmen have been transferred that it has put the project behind by years. The need is to identify the right person for the job based on merit, integrity and track record. Integrity is vital. It is believed that the cost of any project comes down 15 per cent the moment people know that no money can be made illegally from it. It is also important that such a person should be trusted and supported because there will be problems which he cannot surmount on his own. I believe that his integrity will also give him the courage to stand up to overbearing politicians out to serve their own needs. An aspect that may not have directly contributed to corruption but has certainly had an ill-effect on the progress of the nation is the ego of our public authorities. The multiplicity of authorities has created a situation in which every scheme is subject to regulation by a number of bodies.
The government may take a decision to do some project but it has to go through many clearances. In many cases, various departments decide to question the entire project. I feel that this is mostly because of the ego of some administrators who attempt to derail projects of national importance only because they do not want credit to go to some other department. People often ask how things get done quickly in China unlike in India. The reason is that their own departments do not question the decisions of the government. While regulation is necessary to ensure that checks are maintained on unscrupulous administrators, this should not come at the cost of development. The overall picture has to be kept in mind and there should be some authority that can set aside opposition from various departments to get things done.