An Indian company official, Podeti Ashok, puts up no-bribe board in his office to discourage villagers from offering bribe. (PHOTO / MANOJ CHAURASIA)
Amid India’s fight against corruption, a local company official has become popular overnight for his unique campaign.
The official, Podeti Ashok who works with the state-owned electricity distribution company in the southern Indian state of Telangana, has put up a big board in his official chamber, declaring that he does not take bribe and that he is “uncorrupted”. The official was prompted to put up the board after the local villagers came rushing to his office offering open bribe for even small works, such as correcting faulty electricity bills and getting a power connections at home.
“I don’t take bribe. I am uncorrupted,” reads the big board in red colour placed on the wall behind the seat of the official posted as an assistant divisional engineer in the Northern Power Distribution Company Limited.
I don’t want to become a hero. My only purpose is to discourage the villagers from offering bribes to the officials. They must know that their works could be done even without paying the bribe
Podeti Ashok, the official works with the state-owned electricity distribution company in Telangana
“I don’t want to become a hero. My only purpose is to discourage the villagers from offering bribes to the officials. They must know that their works could be done even without paying the bribe,” the official said. He added that he would carry the board with him wherever he was transferred and his mission would continue till his retirement.
“The people taking bribe from the villagers in lieu of works have corrupted the system but his fight against graft would continue,” he says adding the people were happy with his initiative.
His unusual campaign against graft has annoyed some other officials but he remains unperturbed. “I only want to convey the message that the every official is not corrupt,” he summed up.
The initiative assumes much significance given recent studies highlighting high degree of corruption in some Indian states. According to a latest survey conducted by the Transparency International, Tenagana remains on the top of southern Indian states in terms of corruption although the northern Indian state of Rajasthan tops corruption chart in India.
The survey, conducted by the Local Circles, a social media firm and the Transparency International, India, covered 190,000 respondents from 248 districts across 20 Indian states in between October 2018 and November 2019.
Another survey conducted by the Centre for Media Studies (CMS)-India Corruption Study-2018 also identified Telangana as the “second most corrupt” state in India. CMS is a New Delhi-based not-for-profit, multi-disciplinary development research and facilitative think-tank.
Another Indian state, Bihar, also a poor performer on the corruption chart, has initiated some drastic measures to curb corruption. One of them is legislating a new law which allows the government to confiscate the ill-gotten property as well as bungalows of the corrupt officials and opening schools or orphanages.
So far the palatial bungalows of four top officials have been confiscated and converted into schools/orphanages while the houses of 23 more such officials are to be confiscated soon. According to an official report, a total of 1,433 cases have been registered against corrupt officials while 1,103 officials were arrested taking bribe red-handed in the past 10 years.
“We have declared a war on corruption and this campaign is going as usual,” Bihar’s vigilance department secretary RK Mahajan said. He said the government had adopted zero-tolerance on corruption to rid the state of corruption. Bihar is currently under Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) rule.
Indian government, of late, has launched massive cracked down on corruption. “A total number of 1,083 officials have been dismissed from the government service under the applicable disciplinary rules in the Ministry including its organizations during the last five years,” federal minister of state for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai had told the Rajya Sabha in July this year.
Moreover, the Indian government has sacked 85 tax officials on corruption charges, as per official statements. Yet despite a series of such initiates taken by the government, the overall situation remains far from satisfactory.
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