My Cabinet colleague, Dr. Jitendra Singh ji, members of CVC & RBI, Secretaries of Government of India, officers of CBI, Chief Secretaries of States, heads of State CID teams, Senior Managers of Banks, and all the dignitaries participating in this programme! I congratulate the CBI team for organizing the National Conference on Vigilance and Anti-Corruption.
The vigilance awareness week begins from today. The country is getting ready to celebrate the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Sardar Saheb was the architect of administrative systems of the country besides 'Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat'. As the first Home Minister of the country, he tried to create a system that is for the ordinary citizens of the country and has ethics in its policies. But we have seen that in the subsequent decades, different circumstances were created. You all might recall that scams of thousands of crores of rupees, the network of the shell companies, tax harassment, tax evasion, etc. were the center of discussion for several years.
When the country decided to bring a major transformation in 2014, when it moved towards a new direction, the major challenge was to change the existing environment. Would the country go on like this; will it continue? There was a need to change this thinking. After the swearing-in, the first 2-3 orders of this government included a decision to form a committee against black money. It was pending despite the Supreme Court order. This decision showed the commitment of the government against corruption. Over the years, the country has moved ahead with zero tolerance approach on corruption. Since 2014, there have been reforms in the administrative systems of the country, the banking system, the health sector, the education sector, labour, agriculture, and other sectors so far. This was a period of great reforms. Today, on the basis of these reforms, India is fully engaged in making the campaign of a self-reliant India successful.
We aim to take India to the frontline countries of the world. But friends, for development it is essential to ensure that the administrative systems that we have are transparent, responsible, accountable and answerable to the public. The biggest enemy of all these systems is corruption. Corruption is not just a matter of a few rupees. On the one hand, corruption hurts the development of the country and at the same time corruption disrupts the social balance. And most importantly, corruption plagues the trust that one places on the system of the country and the sense of belongingness. And hence, combating corruption is not just the responsibility of an agency or an institution but is a collective responsibility.
Besides the CBI, other agencies are also participating in this conference. In a way, for these three days, almost all those agencies that play a crucial role in 'Satark Bharat, Samriddh Bharat' will be on a single platform. These three days are like an opportunity for us because corruption is not a stand-alone challenge in itself. When it is about the country, the scope of vigilance is very wide. Be it corruption, economic offences, network of drugs, money laundering, or terrorism, terror funding, it has been seen often that all these are related. Therefore, we have to do systemic checks, effective audits and capacity building and training against corruption together with a holistic approach. A synergy among all agencies, a cooperative spirit is the need of the hour today. I am confident that this conference will emerge as an effective platform for this and will also suggest new routes for 'Satark Bharat Samriddh Bharat'.
In the vigilance awareness programme in 2016, I had said that there is no place for corruption in a country like ours which is fighting poverty. The poor people of the country face the maximum impact of corruption. The honest person faces a lot of problems due to corruption. You have seen that the poor did not get their rights under the conditions that had been prevailing here for decades. Earlier conditions were different, but now you see that through DBT, the benefits are 100% reaching to the poor directly; the funds are reaching their bank accounts. Due to DBT alone, more than 1 lakh 70 thousand crore rupees have been prevented from going into the wrong hands. Today it can be said with a great pride that the country has left behind that era of scams of thousands of crores of rupees. Today, we are satisfied that the trust of common people in the institutions of the country has increased again and positivity has been created.
There is a lot of emphasis from the government to ensure that neither the government should pressurize nor should it be lacking. The government should be available only up to the point it is required. People should not feel any pressure from the government and at the same time must not feel the lack of government either. Therefore, over 1500 laws have been abolished in the past years and various rules and regulations have been simplified. Be it pension, scholarship, water bill, electricity bill, loan from banks, need to get a passport or a license, some kind of government support, setting up a start-up, a person doesn't have to physically go and deal with any official. He does not have to stand in long queues for hours. Now there are digital options to do the same.
There is a saying - 'प्रक्षालनाद्धि पंकस्य दूरात् स्पर्शनम् वरम्''। That is, rather than cleaning the dirt later, it is better not to let it get dirty in the first place. It is better to focus more on preventive vigilance than Punitive vigilance. It is necessary to attack the circumstances that cause corruption to flourish. We all know how once upon a time the game of transfers and postings used to be played at higher levels. It was a different industry altogether.
Friends, Kautilya had said, "न भक्षयन्ति ये त्वर्थान् न्यायतो वर्धयन्ति च । नित्याधिकाराः कार्यास्ते राज्ञः प्रियहिते रताः ॥" That is, those who do not loot the government money but rather help in growing it by using proper methods and those officials who work in the interest of the state should be appointed to important posts. But a few years ago this was forgotten in a way. The country has also witnessed the great damage caused due to the same. The government has shown the willingness to change the situation. Many policy decisions have been taken. Now the period of recommendations in appointments to higher posts and of other types of pressure is over. In Group B and Group C services, as Dr. Jitendra Singh has just mentioned, the obligation of interview for jobs has also been abolished. That is, the scope for any kind of gameplay has also ended. With the formation of Bank Board Bureau, transparency has also been ensured in appointments to senior positions in banks.
Many legal reforms have been made to strengthen the vigilance system of the country; several new laws have been introduced. The laws that the country has enacted on curbing black money and benami properties, the steps that have been taken have been set as examples before the other countries of the world. Action on the corrupt has been greatly facilitated through the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act. Today India is among the few countries in the world where the system of face-less tax assessment has been implemented. Today, India is among those countries where technology is being used more and more to prevent corruption. The priority of the government has been to provide better technology to the agencies related to vigilance, provide capacity building, ensure access to the latest infrastructure and equipment so that they can work more effectively and deliver better results.
In the midst of these efforts, we also have to remember that the campaign against corruption is not a one-day or just a one-week war. In this context, today I am going to mention another major challenge before you. This challenge has been gradually growing in the past decades and has taken a formidable form in front of the country. This challenge is - the dynasty of corruption i.e. corruption transferred from one generation to another.
We have seen in the past decades that when one generation does not get the right punishment for corrupt practices, the other generation commits corruption with even more power. He sees that when nothing has happened to the person getting crores of rupees black money or has received a low intensity punishment, he gets encouraged. Consequently, in many states it has become a part of the political tradition. This dynasty of corruption, which goes on from one generation to the generation, can hollow out the country like a termite.
Laxity in a single case against corruption is not limited to just that case, it forms a chain and sets the foundation for future corruption and scams. When appropriate action is not taken, the media and the society starts taking the crime lightly. A large section of people and the media might know that the person had got hold of thousands of crores of rupees through wrong means but they start taking it easy. This situation creates a major obstacle in the development of the country. This is the biggest hurdle in front of a prosperous India and a self-reliant India.
Just imagine if one of us is working in PWD and the task assigned is to look after the engineering work. The person decides to build a bridge somewhere solely for the interest of money. So he becomes negligent about the work. He takes some money, divides some among his colleagues and the contractor also feels that it is mutually beneficial for everyone. The bridge is somehow constructed and it is ensured that it looked good for inauguration. The Money is taken home; the corrupt official retires without getting caught ever. But imagine that one day that official's young son is passing over that bridge and suddenly that bridge falls. At that time one would realize that it might be just corruption for him but how many lives could possibly be lost! And if your son passes away, then one realises that if the bridge was constructed honestly, he didn't have to lose his only son. Corruption can have serious consequences.
The onus of responsibility to change this situation is on all of us and more on you. I hope that this topic will also be discussed in the national conference. And you also have to pay attention to one more thing. The news on corruption reaches through the media, but when stern and timely action is taken against corruption, such examples too should be prominently placed before the people. This increases the society's belief and trust in the system and also sends a message among the corrupt that it is difficult to escape.
Today, through this programme, I also make an appeal to all the countrymen to continue strengthening India and defeating corruption through the fight called 'India vs Corruption'. I am confident that by doing so, we will be able to fulfill the dream of building the ideal India that Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel had imagined, and creating a prosperous and a self-reliant India. Best wishes to all of you for the upcoming festivals.
Stay healthy and take care of yourself!