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Sustaining the Momentum on Fighting Corruption

“We decided, right from day one, to attack the menace of corruption. Someone had to make a start somewhere, we decided to do this, without caring for political consequences. The results show that we are succeeding.”

- PM Narendra Modi

Corruption had been an albatross around India’s growth potential. For decades, it plagued the system, hollowing it from inside and causing people, businesses, investors, to distrust the government. However, since the Modi government’s advent, expecting transparency from the government apparatus has become a new normal.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had decisively fought against corruption by deploying multi-pronged actions to uproot the menace. On one hand, he has ensured that the corrupt are caught and brought to justice while on the other hand, he has worked to make the system work in favor of the honest taxpayers. Increasingly, people are deepening their trust in government processes. The number of people filing for income tax returns has doubled in the past 5 years. The tax filing and refund process have been digitized.

No Way Out for Corrupt

The high and mighty, who were earlier considered too powerful to be out of the ambit of law, are finding it impossible to escape justice. This has increased people’s confidence in institutions. The mandate at every layer of governance is to have zero tolerance towards undue harassment and potential corruption. Within 100 days of the Modi government, a number of tax officials including some senior officials have been given compulsory retirement.

 

 

 

Digital India Paving the Way for Honest India

The Modi government has actively deployed the power of technology to eliminate interfaces that create opportunities for human discretion leading to corruption. It has launched the faceless e-assessment scheme to remove the human interface in the income tax assessment system and boost transparency. The move is bound to benefit the taxpayers who would be able to submit their document online by an officer selected randomly.

Communications from the income tax department including notices without computer-generated document identification numbers are to be treated as invalid. This protects taxpayers from harassment as the DIN makes officials accountable for their official communications by ensuring an audit trail of all communications, which reduces the scope for harassment.

With the greater emphasis on the formalization of economy, the digital payment platforms have today become viable and a preferred choice for a large part of the population for their daily transactions. It can be seen from the fact that from the time UPI was launched in August 2016, it has crossed 90 crore transactions (as of September 2019). In the beginning, it had 21 banks, which has now increased to 120 banks thus facilitating interoperable transactions in real-time. These developments are paving the way for India to emerge as a cleaner economy through digital means.

Giving Legal Teeth to Fight Against Corruption

The Modi government approved the Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Bill, 2019. The bill seeks to provide for a comprehensive mechanism to ban unregulated deposit schemes, other than deposits taken in the ordinary course of business, and to protect the interest of depositors. It will help tackle the menace of illicit deposit-taking activities in the country, which at present are exploiting regulatory gaps and lack of strict administrative measures to dupe poor and gullible people of their hard-earned savings.

Meanwhile, an intent to enhance the responsible use of public money and resources has also been seen. The Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Amendment Bill, 2019, cracks down on the unauthorized occupants of residential accommodations in public premises. This will facilitate smooth and speedy eviction of unauthorized occupants from Government residences.

Now, that the Modi government has received a resounding thumbs-up from the people on its anti-corruption measures, the resolve to punish the corrupt and honor the honest has only been strengthened. From reaching out to the beneficiaries through DBT to implementing reforms such as RERA, GST, there is an all-round attack on graft led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the front.

May 29, 2020