Monday, November 23, 2009

Politicians and accountability

Reports of politicians amassing wealth have become a daily affair. Ministerial position, it seems, affords unlimited possibilities for personal gain.

Why don’t the safeguards provided by the Constitution against misuse of powers by elected public servants work? The legislature, deriving its power from the peoples’ mandate, is in theory, supreme. It helps form the council of ministers from 15% of its members and exercises control over it. But in practice, it seems that it is the power of the party (or coalition) with the legislative majority that prevails over the legislature, aligning it with government in unqualified support.

So Government functions without oversight by legislature. Madhu Koda could award contracts for mining and A. Raja allot spectrum on the ‘first come first served’ basis at 2001 rates in 2008, without the legislators crying fowl. A PIL exposed the Koda affair while spectrum allocation policies are under the scanner only after the companies with licenses offloaded shares at a huge profit.

So how can the Indian public protect itself from the depredations of its politicians? For some systemic changes that may help, read my Economic Times article here

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