Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Anti-corruption rhetoric

The customary messages against corruption from the Governor and the Chief Minister during Vigilance Awareness Week every year makes good reading but nothing happens in the corridor of power to curb this menace that has totally destroyed the State. As every year, the Governor and the Chief Minister gave tall messages on the need to fight corruption but there words can be taken only on face value. “Increased transparency, fairness, equity, competitiveness and leveraging of technology in all areas of functioning of the Government should be promoted,” Governor PB Acharya said in his message. The Governor admitted that corruption has progressively increased and is now rampant in Naga society. “It has become a way of life. Society itself has accepted and embraced corruption. No one questions the many that live beyond their means of income,” he said, while calling upon people to come together and reaffirm their commitment to promote vigilance concepts and to rededicate to the cause of fighting corruption. Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio went a step further by stating that the PDA Government will endeavour to bring out a comprehensive zero tolerance policy towards corruption. The Chief Minister stated that his Government was committed to making all out efforts to implement transparency and good governance initiatives in the fight against corruption and taking steps to eradicate corruption. Indeed such rhetoric from our rulers is not uncommon in our parts of the world and we now know what to believe and what not to believe. The ugly levels of corruption in Nagaland are an open secret. Corruption has not only affected development and economic growth but it has destroyed our environment as well. Had our institutions like municipal/town councils, revenue department, etc not been involved in massive corruption, our water bodies would not have been under threat today. Had the illegal constructions not been allowed, there would not have been floods in Dimapur every year during summer. Had there been transparency in selection of Indira Awas Yojna (IAY) beneficiaries, many families would not have been deprived of this rural housing scheme? Had forest officials not been collaborators in timber smuggling, we would not have lost most of our forests cover. Had our engineers and contractors not taken and given bribes, our roads would not have been in shambles as it is today. Alas, successive governments have failed to curb corruption at all levels. No wonder, today there is widespread belief that making the State free from corruption is now a war that can never be fought, not to speak of winning. Not just because the menace has spread tentacles too deep, but for the reason that the Government is not ready to launch an honest, concerted, result oriented crusade against corruption. Sure, Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio through his speeches seems to be concerned over the affliction of corruption in the State, but his high pitched anti-graft talk has proved nothing more than rhetoric. Today each political party in the State has the dubious distinction to hoodwink people into believing that if voted to power, it would take out the State from the deep morass of corruption. But after assuming power, the promise vanishes into thin air as the same politicians show a proclivity to plunder and loot. In their cozy rooms they think of amassing wealth and continue with weak anti-graft law. There is an important question for the Chief Minister; if he is sincere to walk the talk, then he has to open the cases of corruption against tainted employees that lay buried in the files of general administration department. If he spares some sincerity for fighting corruption on which he speaks so consistently, he has to act swiftly. Indeed the Government needs to take note of how corruption has damaged the moral fabric of the society, and come out from the dormancy before it will be too late to act against growing corruption. The evil of corruption has taken the shape of a monster, and the law that the State needs to deal with this monster should have stronger teeth. Perhaps it is not too late to save the State from the cruelty of the corrupt.