TED Conversations

rajbir singh

This conversation is closed.

By helping public services officers improve their performane, can we empower them against systemic corruption? Please share evidence, ideas.

Many public service officers are in a corrupt system and are not corrupt by choice. We need to find ways to empower and enable them. This could be through legal assistance, training, and recognition. Looking to validate and support this hypothesis?

Let us say Janette could have run into some vested interests. Now that she has a very high profile, she would it find it easier to resist that and it would also be difficult for others to push her around. There are many other examples like that around the world, which can help shape this idea. We need have belief and faith in people and find ways of helping them.

Why do this? Public service officials have a huge impact on our future as well as today. Usual model is to impact the governance through change in elected officials or fight these issues in court. Both are time consuming and not very productive, effective. If we drive the change from inside and are able to create enough momentum and critical mass, we can bring more sustainable and dramatic change.

Share:
  • Oct 24 2013: First ask the question: Is the corruption systemic, or is the system simply corrupted?

    If the corruption is systemic, then changes need to made in the system itself. The bad news is that systemic solutions need to be powerful enough to spread throughout the system rapidly, and they need to clearly identify the core cause of the corruption . The good news is that if one can identify the core "infection" then one can devise a relatively simple change to address it. Systemic changes need to start somewhere, and if effective, will create the needed change throughout the system. Failing that, the system itself may need to be replaced with a new, uncorrupted one.

    If the system is simply corrupted, but is itself a workable and working system, then there is probably a need for triage. What are the most important, most corrupting factors in the system? You talk about making it possible for public officials to be empowered against the corruption that is currently in the system. That's not a bad idea as a start, because unless there are powerful forces within the system, then change won't happen. In the U.S.A., a major problem seems to be the ways in which money influences power; but we haven't found workable ways to reduce the influence of money in the system; at least partly because the people who need to make those changes are so dependent on the money/power relationship. All the answers are idealistic, rather than practical, unfortunately. Elect better people, make more of an effort to teach ethics as part of civics classes to all citizens, make laws that punish ethical lapses more severely (who would pass those laws?).
    • thumb
      Oct 24 2013: Agree David. This is indeed a challenge across the world. However, having traveled extensively to US, it's public infrastructure is far superior to that of India. While I am sure there is corruption, it's not so evident in day to day life.

      Checks and balances are most important aspects of a functioning democracy. Maturity and independence of these institutions can erode that balance and lead to sustained corruption / systemic corruption.

      We should not expect people to be heroes and fight corruption (easier done in movies). As is evident from other comments, most of us are scared of taking stand. We want to lead a good life, dont want to get into trouble. And rightly so.

      If we empower individuals, then we are reducing the risk that they carry. We can enable people who are on the fringe, those who are not so vulnerable. We need to enable them to take an informed stand. They should not become victims of lack of knowledge or skills. They should also feel secure that if they get into trouble, then there are people out there who will help and provide legal support. Empowerment could therefore be in form of enablement, education and support. Recognition is another very strong source of empowerment. Discussed this in earlier note.

      This will help in creating tactical balance among local forces inside an institution and will lead to small victories. This is the goal. We are in it for small victories.

      This is just a thought right now. Need to strengthen this will actual examples and case studies to test the ideas and to take them to implementation stage.

      Many thanks again for enriching the conversation.
  • Oct 24 2013: @ david-very well said . i will say curruption is systemic.Money has brought all the curruption. its very difficult to handle unless the citizens themselves are willing, or harsh punishment is given when caught.
  • Oct 24 2013: sorry to say but if each and every person thinks in this way , then i am sure nochange can occur.
    its only when every indian tries at its level best, then miracle can happen.
    • thumb
      Oct 24 2013: Thanks Smita. We dont need every indian to think like that. We need a few more Indians to start thinking and acting like this. Please share some examples of people who are doing this today. Really appreciate that.
  • Oct 23 2013: Dear Rajbir Sing
    I am also an Indian. I am writing what I see in India.
    In primary education we learnt to follow the path of true and ethical. But when a child grow up, in college his teacher and his parents teach to be practical with the world. Let them do what they want, but not tell them that they are doing wrong. If you resist they will make your life miserable. You can't live normal life in this India. You can see this scenario in latest news.
    So everyone want his normal life, most of the person in India do this. Those who don't follow the path they are known as unsuccessful person in India. And Successful person become the roll model of child. What child learn, he do in his life.
    Change is the law nature. But In India it is very difficult to make change. I think it is not possible in our life.
    with hope one day system of India will change.
    • thumb
      Oct 24 2013: Well said sir! your words are 100% true in India. Here in India Practical life means not to be Honest. This is the lesson taught by everyone when teenagers or a person going to face the world. and the solution for this is very simple. don't think about the elder generations.think about the current and emerging generations.they are the india's of tomorrow.WE should be the role model to our future generation
      • thumb
        Oct 24 2013: Well Avinash, really liked the comment about Role Model. Thanks for that. It is not easy to swim against the tide and be a role model, as is evident from so many other comments. How does one become a role model then? What motivates a person to swim against the tide? Are you aware of any examples of such people? Can you please share some examples for everyone's benefit.
  • Oct 24 2013: very rightly said!.helping the officers in removing curruption.
    even while apponting the officers , oath should be taken for all right deeds, and if found guilty , will be given harsh punishment.
    in india , law order and punishment is not strict,therefore all curruptions.