My cabinet colleague Dr. Jitendra Singh ji, Principal Secretary Dr. P.K. Mishra, Cabinet Secretary Shri Rajiv Gauba, Central Vigilance Commissioner Shri Suresh Patel, all other commissioners, ladies and gentlemen!
This Vigilance Awareness Week began with the birth anniversary of Sardar Saheb. Sardar Saheb's entire life was devoted to honesty, transparency and the building of a public service system based on these values. And with this commitment, you have started this awareness vigilance campaign. This time you are celebrating Vigilance Awareness Week with the resolution 'Corruption Free India for Developed India'. This resolution is the demand of today's time, is relevant and is equally important for the countrymen.
Both trust and credibility are very important for a developed India. People’s trust in the government also enhances their own confidence. The problem for us had been that the previous governments not only lost the trust of the people, but also failed to trust them. Unfortunately, the legacy of corruption, exploitation and control of resources, which we got after the long period of slavery, gained more strength after independence, and as a result, four generations of the country have suffered a lot.
But we have to completely change this practice which has been going on for decades during the ‘Amrit Kaal’ of independence. During my address from the ramparts of the Red Fort on August 15 this year, I said that along with the last eight years of efforts and initiatives, the time has come for a decisive fight against corruption. We will be able to move fast towards a developed India underscoring the importance of this message.
There have been two major reasons behind the prevalence of corruption in our country and preventing the countrymen from moving forward. One, the lack of facilities and secondly, unnecessary interference from the government! For a long time, people were denied facilities and opportunities and a gap was allowed to grow. This led to an unhealthy competition to secure benefits over others. This competition also helped create an ecosystem of corruption. Queues became ubiquitous for ration, gas connection, filling of gas cylinders, payment of bills, admissions, licences and for any other permission. The longer the queue meant rampant growth of corruption. And if anyone has to bear the most due to corruption, then it is the poor and the middle class of the country.
When the poor and middle class of the country spend their energy in mobilizing these resources, then how can the country progress? Therefore, we have been trying to change the system created by scarcity and interference for the last eight years and bridge the gap between demand and supply. We have taken several measures in this regard.
I would like to draw attention to three main points -- use of modern technology, the goal of saturation of basic facilities and self-reliance. Now take for example the issue of ration. We integrated PDS with technology and weeded crores of fake beneficiaries out of the system in the last eight years.
Similarly, the government benefits under the DBT are now being passed on directly to the beneficiaries. So far, more than Rs 2 lakh crore has been saved from falling into the wrong hands due to this single step. We all know how difficult it is to detect bribery and black money in a cash-based economy.
Now the complete details of the transactions are becoming easily available due to the introduction of the digital system. The transparency in government procurements due to the creation of Government e-Market Place (GeM) is underscored by the people who are becoming part of this portal and they realize its importance.
Ensuring any government scheme to every eligible beneficiary and achieving the goals of saturation ends not only discrimination in the society but also eliminates the scope of corruption. The role of middlemen ends when the government and various agencies of the government themselves take the initiative and identify each and every eligible person. Therefore, our government emphasizes the principle of saturation for every scheme. Schemes such as tap water to every house, pucca house to every poor, electricity and gas connection to every poor manifest this approach of the government.
Excessive dependence on foreign countries has also been a major cause of corruption. You know it very well how our defence sector was made to be dependent on foreign countries for decades. As a result, many scams happened. The scope of these scams has also come to an end after we laid emphasis on self-reliance in the defence sector. Today India is moving towards manufacturing rifles, fighter jets and transport aircraft. Not only defence, we are also promoting efforts for self-reliance so that we are less dependent on foreign countries for other requirements also.
CVC (Central Vigilance Commission) is an organization which encourages everyone to ensure transparency. The last time I urged all of you to pay attention to preventive vigilance. I am told that you have taken several steps in this direction. The three-month campaign that has been launched in this regard is commendable and I congratulate you and your entire team. In order to ensure transparency, you are adopting the traditional method of audit and inspection. But you must further deliberate how to make it more modern and technology-driven.
It is equally important that all the departments reflect the same determination of the government against corruption. We have to develop such an administrative ecosystem for a developed India, which has zero tolerance against corruption. You can see this today in every policy and decision of the government. But this sentiment should also be firmly embedded in the DNA of our administrative system. There is a feeling that action against corrupt officers, whether criminal or departmental, goes on for years. Can we complete the disciplinary proceedings related to corruption in mission mode and in a time-bound manner? The sword over his head also bothers him. If he is innocent, he will always repent in his life that he got entrapped in the system despite leading a life of honesty and the department is unable to take a decision. There is no doubt that the one who has done wrong will suffer. But if someone has not done any wrong, life becomes a burden for him due to this sword which hangs over his head. What is the use of making your own comrades wait for a long time?
The sooner such allegations are decided, the more transparency will come in the administrative system and its efficiency will also improve. There is also a need for speedy action and constant monitoring in criminal cases. Another initiative can be taken by ranking the departments on the basis of pending corruption cases. There should be competition in this regard as we do for cleanliness. Attempts should be made to find out which department is very indifferent and the reason behind it and which are the departments taking this problem seriously and ensuring prompt action. Monthly or quarterly publication of such reports will motivate different departments to expeditiously dispose of cases against corruption.
We should do one more thing by using technology. It is often seen that vigilance clearance takes a long time. This process can also be streamlined with the help of technology. Another topic that I want to put before you is that of public grievance data. Complaints are sent by the common people to various government departments and a system of their disposal is also in place.
But if we audit the data of public grievances, we can easily find out a particular department against which there are a rising number of complaints. Is there a particular person who delays everything or is there something wrong with our processing systems which are causing problems? I think you can easily get to the bottom of the corruption in that department if you follow this. We should not see these complaints in isolation. These complaints should be analysed thoroughly. This will also increase the confidence of the public in the government and administrative departments.
We should also ensure how we can encourage maximum participation of society and the common citizen to monitor corruption. Therefore, it is the responsibility of institutions like you to see that the corrupt, no matter how powerful he may be, is not spared.
It is also necessary to create an environment where corrupt people do not get any political or social support and they are put in the dock. We have often seen that the corrupt people are glorified even after they are convicted of corruption and sentenced. There are many people who wear the label of so-called honesty on their sleeve but are not ashamed of posing with them.
This does not bode well for Indian society. Even today, there are people who put up different arguments in favor of the corrupt who have been found guilty and advocate for honouring them. This has never been heard of in our country. It is very necessary for such people and forces to be made aware of their duty by the society. Concrete action by your department also has an important role in this regard.
Now that I am amongst you, I feel like discussing some issues with you. I want to tell all the agencies like CVC which are involved in taking action against corruption and the corrupt people that you need not be defensive. There is no need to live in guilt if you work for the betterment of the country. We don't have to follow any political agenda.
It is our job to get rid of the problems that the common man of the country is facing. And those who have vested interests will shout and will try to throttle such institutions. An attempt will be made to defame the dedicated people part of these institutions. All this will happen. I have gone through all these things for a long time, friends. I have had the opportunity to work as the head of the Government for a long time. I was subjected to a lot of abuse and accusations, friends. Now, there is nothing left for me.
But the people are another form of God. They test the truth, know the truth and also stand by the truth when such an opportunity arises. I am telling you this from my experience, friends. Discharge your duty with honesty. You see, God will be with you and the people will be with you. There would be some people who would keep shouting due to their own personal interest. Their own feet are drowned in swamp.
Therefore, I say it again and again that there is no need for you to be defensive in the wake of any dispute when you are working for the country with honesty and integrity.
All of you are witness to the fact that society stands by you whenever you come across occasions in your life when you have to take any action with conviction. It is necessary for institutions like CVC to remain on guard to make a corruption-free country and a corruption-free society. But you will also have to keep your systems in place because you can’t do anything alone. What can four-six people sitting in an office do? Sometimes the systems break down if they are not integral to it and continue with the same spirit.
Your responsibility is huge. Your challenges keep changing too. Therefore, there is a need for constant dynamism in your methodology as well. I am sure that you will continue to play a vital role in building a transparent and competitive ecosystem in the ‘Amrit Kaal’.
It is good that some school students have been called here today. Everyone took part in the essay competition. A tradition of speech competition can also be developed. But I noticed one thing and you must have also noticed it. There were only 20 percent of the male members who bagged the award, whereas 80 percent of the daughters got the award. That is four daughters out of five people. May the same quality develop among male members against corruption which is there in the heart and mind of these daughters! Only then will there be the path of a bright future.
But your preventive campaign is good in the sense that children should develop antipathy towards corruption. Unless antipathy towards filth is developed, the importance of cleanliness is not realized. And don't underestimate the corruption; it breaks down the entire system. Since I know it, I keep on reiterating and we have to remain alert against it continuously.
Some people also use their influence to continue with the (corrupt) practices bypassing laws. They also advise people that they would face no problems if they could bypass laws. Now this purview of (law) is spreading fast. If not today then tomorrow, at some point or the other, problems are bound to come and it is difficult to escape. Technology is finding some evidence or the other. The more the power of technology is harnessed, the more we can change the systems. Let's make an attempt.
I wish you all the very best.