Thursday, October 25, 2012

Corruption: What is different now.

Corruption reporting and handling has changed in India, I think for good. Do not despair at all the finger pointing and large scale corruption or scams.

Back to the Future: 1982
We had Doordarshan, a government run TV station that provided news and reports in Hindi and English at the national level. At the regional levels, some of the major cities, had their own regional Doordarshan. For rest of the country they relied on the National Doordarshan. And of course, plenty of radio stations at the regional levels.

We had national and regional newspapers in Hindi, English and regional languages. As far as periodicals, we had a few major weeklies, monthlies and bi-monthlies.

The aam admi in 1982, never was that gullible to believe the leaders and politicians were not involved in corruption. People bribed officials at all levels to get their work done - because bribery was the system. What is fees in the West, is bribes in India. Everybody knew corruption and scams existed. Even getting a gas cylinder or telephone connection required bribing somebody. Forget the issues at ration shops, RTA, banks etc etc. An 1982 citizen would have laughed at anybody who proclaimed there was no corruption or scams in India.

Back to the present: 2012
We have countless private TV & radio stations; and the reliance on Doordarshan keeps climbing down. While newspapers and magazines have consolidated or split at various levels, we have more 'foreign' money flowing into these with their own agenda and priorities.

While the numbers in 2012 is astonishing, as one scratches the head to just get the right number of zeroes in these lakhs of crores, it is not troubling from one perspective. The numbers are large, because the liberalized India has ushered in progress and economic prosperity. Rise in middle class, FDIs and inflation takes these numbers to Himalayan proportions. I say 'Big Deal'. Hey my underwear now is larger than what I wore when I was a toddler. Size is directly proportional to growth :-)

The biggest change is that we have the internet, mobile communications and social media. Any report of corruption in even a remote corner of the country, has the ability to become a national frenzy. Valid regional concerns become national concerns and sensation. People sit up and notice, then talk about it. We were never shy of waxing eloquent. But, changes happen only when people talk.

In 1982, people talked about the corruption while buying vegetables, in buses, in trains and at work. Now they can discuss this on live media, watched by lakhs. They can ramp up the amp by just using 140 words, sitting on their easy-chairs. All these have the ability to bring people down to the streets. There will be mobs and flashes in the pan, however changes take time - unless one desires violent and radical changes in a short duration.

The system is fighting these new forms of communication. I believe, these modern age tools will usher in more reporting of scams, more discussions resulting in better citizenry and country. A well informed people and churned ideas are necessary for a stable and strong democracy. India is marching on the right track.

On the flip side, humans have their biases and prejudices; and it becomes easy to make a mountain out of a mole hill. It would take good journalism to understand if protests are being carried out at the behests of 'foreign' powers, business men or simple politics. The aam admi does not have the time to dissect the causes. There in lies the challenge for Indians to ensure these mediums are not used to control and arm-twist them.


At November 4, 2012 at 10:08 PM , Blogger Sourav Rana said...

The Lokpal Act should lay down an objective and transparent criteria such as competence, experience, qualification etc for the selection of candidates for appointment to the Lokpal.


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