Dr. Asangba Tzüdir
The 83 pending cases under investigation by the State Vigilance Commission was the highlight of day one of the Vigilance Awareness Week. While the Governor of Nagaland calls for accountability and transparency; the Chief Minister bats for active participation of people to end corruption. But the word of the Vigilance Commissioner is truly pinching when he says that, “…the Naga conscience is no longer able to withstand Naga dishonesty” and further added that both public and government are equally responsible for mass corruption.
Today, corruption finds itself ‘tentacled’ in every possible sphere of human activity. This ubiquitous phenomenon is intensified by the question of livelihood, social status and survival in the evolution of a socially accepted standard of living. And with the socio-cultural trend of ‘normal business’ going on, various forms of corruption will rise spectacularly if left unchecked.
The 83 pending cases is not a small number looking from the prism of its negative impact on development. As such, it calls for taking all the cases to its desired conclusion, only which can attest the government standing by the principle of what they preach – to be accountable and transparent.
Even from the paper reports, it can be seen that the Vigilance Commission needs to be empowered and strengthened in a way that the Commission can ‘act’ without any ‘interference.’ For now, the ‘interference’ has seriously weakened the Vigilance Commission.
Now, the Lok Ayukta Bill that was introduced has come under severe criticism from various quarters especially ACAUT, accusing that the Nagaland Lok Ayukta Bill 2015 is spineless. Only a strong Lok Ayukta can facilitate its establishment where corrupt politicians and government officials can be brought under scanner. What is pertinently urgent is to pass this bill with proper form and content in context. At the center of this bill is the people and it demands active voicing and participation of the people for the implementation of a strong Lok Ayukta.
The presence of a strong Lok Ayukta in the state will not only empower the Vigilance Commission but also the people towards curtailing corrupt practices. Talking about empowerment, accountability and transparency, the Lok Ayukta will empower and strengthen the Vigilance Commission and also in reaching out to the public at large for active participation in the collective fight against corruption.
Having said about the need for empowerment and also tools to fight corruption, it also calls upon the conscience of the people, both the government and the public to be vigilant against corruption, and especially for the government to sincerely apply professional and moral integrity which will provide the necessary guiding force in creating a climate of transparency and accountability. Acting on one’s professional and moral integrity is really desired in our system of governance. It will immediately bear the fruits of accountability and transparency and ultimately better governance and therefore a good life for the people.
In perspective, we need to broaden the horizons of our understanding of corruption, often confined to back door appointments and corruption among politicians and bureaucrats. That, more often we fail to identify our own weakness which makes a person ‘corrupt.’ Our moral compass needs to be kept in constant scrutiny. This has to be the premise if the fight against corruption is to succeed.
Further, to combat corruption, the level of activism, which has hardly gone beyond social media activism, needs to be pushed and applied practically. For people to actively participate in the change process, an empowered Vigilance Commission and a strong Lok Ayokta is needed.
(Dr. Asangba Tzudir contributes a weekly guest editorial to The Morung Express. Comments can be mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org)