Vittal launches anti-corruption week in India

Vol 5, PW 19 (07 Nov 01) People & Policy

Corruption is a malignant cancer eating into India.

Nobody acknowledges it as forcefully and publicly as Chief Vigilance Commissioner Nagaraj Vittal. The doughty and much feared Vittal is again in the news with a bang.

From 31st October to 6th November Vittal oversaw the nationwide observance of the second annual Vigilance Awareness Week. Posters and banners outside government offices across the country announced the event.

Heads of government departments and state-run companies kicked off the week with an anti-corruption pledge. Debates, essay competitions, seminars and workshops were organised to highlight the harmful effects of corruption.

"Corruption is anti-economic development, anti-poor and anti-national," says Vittal. He also quotes a chamber of commerce study, which says that if corruption in India is brought down by 15%, it would add 1.3% to annual economic growth and raise annual investments by 2.9% of GDP.

Home minister Lal Krishna Advani seconded the campaign with a message in which he described corruption as a "social menace" against which he called for a "systematic campaign by involving all members of civil society." Advani agreed with Vittal that corruption is "sapping the very vitals of our social, economic and national life, severely retarding our growth." Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi also joined in. "The crime of corruption is perhaps the most widespread and all-pervasive crime in our country."