Sonia can free India from graft, but is she up to it?

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By Chetan Bhagat

Via e-mail

Since regular mail will never get past Sonia Gandhi, Congress Party president,  and I do not have her e-mail ID, I have chosen this medium as the best option. Also, I don’t speak only for myself. I address this directly to her.

India must get rid of corruption. Whatever the solution, you will have a pivotal role in implementing it.

I don’t think you would have a personal interest in being corrupt. Money would hold little significance for you at this stage of life. Neither do you come across as someone, who aspires to a lavish lifestyle. Yes, the compulsions of running a political party require vast amounts of funds. This brings in cronies and moral compromises, which have become part of any Indian politician’s life.

In recent times, however, there have been too many of these compromises. Amounts have reached levels that cannot be computed on a digital calculator. Scams after scams show how we have created a monster of a system that rewards the evil and threatens the dream of India becoming a “first world” country.

Recently, your son spoke about how corruption prevents the benefits of globalization from reaching the common man. This is absolutely true. In fact, it not only cuts existing benefits, it cuts out future opportunities for the young. Corruption is worse than terrorism. Terrorists blow up existing infrastructure such as roads, airports and power plants. Corruption prevents such infrastructure from being made in the first place. Terrorists take innocent lives. Corrupt politicians prevent hospitals from being built, which means innocent lives that could be saved are not.

You say corruption is a disease. But that sounds a little defeatist. A disease is something inflicted upon us by nature. Corruption isn’t caused by little bugs falling from the sky. Corruption comes from unchecked power. Take the example of electric power, a wonderful invention that brings light and comfort to our homes. But, before this power reaches us, it is kept under control at various sub-stations to limit voltage and current. If electric power is unchecked, it can burn our homes. Political power is unrestrained in India. Like little kings, our MPs roam around with their sycophants, blocking traffic, openly defying quotas and doing anything and everything possible to exploit their power. If you want to fix this “disease” — and you can do it  —  you need to pass a “political accountability Bill”  in Parlia-ment. Also, an independent council against corruption needs to be set up. It should not be under the control of politicians and should have the power to prosecute politicians. Without these changes, no matter how many wonderful speeches are made, the disease will remain uncured.

It isn’t easy to change things but it needs to be done. And you, of all people, have the best chance of taking this archaic bull by the horns and showing it the right direction.

The question hundreds of millions of young people are asking is: Are you up to it?

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