News / Asia

Singh Promises 'Strict Action' to Fight Indian Corruption

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh says his government is taking steps to counter widespread corruption.  An anti-corruption bill is expected to be introduced soon in parliament. Meanwhile, a prominent social activist says he will begin a fast to the death on Tuesday to protest the government's "too-weak" legislation.  

Singh marked 64 years of his country's independence from British rule with a promise of the "strictest possible action" against corruption.

The prime minister says he has spoken extensively on corruption because it is a challenge and a matter of deep worry. But he says the government does not have a magic wand to solve the issue. He says the government is fighting corruption on many levels, and he appeals to all political parties to join in the fight.

Key threat

Public surveys suggest most Indians view widespread corruption as the chief threat to the country's security.  Over the past year, Indian media have carried astonishing headlines about alleged graft involving telecommunications licenses, the Commonwealth Games, high-profile land and real estate projects.

In what may be India's most prominent graft case, India's former telecommunications minister faces a possible prison term for allegedly selling 2G mobile phone spectrum licenses at below market value.  He told a court recently the prime minister and senior cabinet officials were fully aware of his actions.

Legislation

Under heavy pressure from activists earlier this year, Prime Minister Singh's ruling Congress party introduced an anti-corruption bill that would set up a civil organization to act as a watchdog over government officials.

Indian social activist Anna Hazare, right, looks on during his hunger strike against corruption, in New Delhi, India, April 7, 2011
Indian social activist Anna Hazare, right, looks on during his hunger strike against corruption, in New Delhi, India, April 7, 2011

Anna Hazare, an elderly social activist who has long pushed for a so-called "jan lokpal," or people's ombudsman, says the government's bill is a weak and watered down version of what he is demanding.   Hazare wants a lokpal to be able to expose and prosecute the prime minister himself, as well as members of India's judiciary.  

Hazare says he will resume a "fast unto death" on Tuesday to protest the government's bill.  A similar fast in April fueled a broadcast media frenzy, along with a wave of popular demonstrations around the nation.

Parliament

Singh said "no single, big step" can be taken to eradicate corruption, and that action needs to proceed on a number of fronts simultaneously.  He urged those interested in the legislation to pursue their aims using India's democratic structures.

Singh said, only parliament can decide now what kind of anti-corruption bill India will have. He said he knows people have differences about certain aspects of the proposed law -- but they should make their views known through parliament, political parties and even the media. Singh said they should not, however, resort to protests and hunger strikes.  

The government has given Anna Hazare a conditional three-day permit for the fast in the Indian capital.

You May Like

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid