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Here's what India's first anti-corruption ombudsman is facing



  • Panaki Chandra Ghose was just appointed chairman of India's first anti-corruption ombudsman or Lokpal.
  • Lokpal will investigate corruption events within the Indian government.
  • But the scope of its investigation is limited because it is not allowed to investigate matters relating to foreign policy, space and defense.

India's first president of
Lokpal or anti-corruption ombudsman, Pinaki Chandra Ghose, will get his hands full when he takes his new role. He has already served as a former judge in the Supreme Court and is currently a member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

Corruption has become a growing topic in India ̵

1; especially with Modi's latest # chowkidar campaign on Twitter – but there is nothing to suggest that the actual improvement on the ground has improved. According to Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index (CPI), India's score only improved by one point between 2017 and 2018.

The global watchdog actually points to India as one of the worst
criminals in the Asia-Pacific region.

It is
unclear whether
Lokpal will investigate the grains corruption or major ticket corruption as its primary mandate. To discourage the problem from both ends is important in a country like India where on the one hand more than 62% of Indians have paid out a public servant for a job and on the other hand you have major ticket fraud such as the distribution of funds during the Commonwealth Games 2010.

To distinguish or not to distinguish?


While finally having a
Lokpal in place may be good to the public, one of sectors most vulnerable to corruption – is space and defense and one that the Ombudsman cannot touch. According to an Ernst and Young report, flight and defense are perceived to be the third most vulnerable sector for corruption.

This means that incidents such as the Rafale Deal or the BOFORS case – some of the most disputed armed agreements in the country – will not be covered by
Lokpal s purview.

On the other hand, the 2G spectrum case or "Coalgate" – where the resource distribution was questioned – would be events that Lokpal would investigate.

One of the recent allegations of corruption was actually in India's central investigation agency, where Alok Verma, the CBI director and his alternate Rakesh Asthana both accused the other of being corrupt. Both were then asked to resign from their services at the Bureau.

The investigation is still ongoing and several other senior executives have also been taken on "indefinite leave" until the matter is sorted.

Nor is corruption limited to India's borders. According to the "Export Corruption Report" of Transparency International, India among four countries that have "little or no enforcement" in place to check against foreign bribes.

But then, again
Lokpal is limited from looking at corruption events when it comes to foreign affairs.

India already has the Central Vigilance Commission to deal with state corruption but even if it is an independent body, it is not an investigation agency. And the Anti-Corruption Act, which aims to combat corruption in government, has largely been abused by Section 13.1 (d), which allowed fair officials to be prosecuted as a deterrent to bold decision-making.


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