Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday batted for strong action to check "dynastic corruption", saying it has become a part of the political culture in some states and is hollowing out the country like termites.
Inaugurating a three-day national conference on vigilance and anti-corruption organised by the CBI, the prime minister said inaction in a single corruption case forms the foundation for future scams. "Dynastic corruption (bhrashtachaar ka vanshwaad), as in corruption carried forward from one generation to another, has grown over decades to become a formidable challenge before the country," he said.
"During the past decades, we have seen that when one generation of corrupt people is not punished adequately, its subsequent generations indulge in corruption with more impunity," the prime minister said. "Because of this, it has become a part of the political culture in some states. Corruption running through generations and the dynasty of corruption are hollowing out the country like termites," Modi added.
His remarks came ahead of the first phase of voting in the Bihar assembly election, where the ruling BJP-JD(U) alliance has been targeting Tejashwi Yadav, the chief ministerial candidate of 'Mahagathbandhan', over corruption cases against his jailed father and RJD leader Lalu Prasad.
If suitable action is not taken in corruption cases, it becomes normalised in society, the prime minister said.
When a generation sees that a corrupt person in the family is let off without or very little punishment, their courage to indulge in corrupt activities grows manifolds, he said.
"People know, the media knows that a person has made crores of rupees through corrupt means, but they also start taking it normally," he said, and added that this situation is a "major obstacle in the growth of the country. It is a hindrance to a prosperous and self-dependent India".
The prime minister said corruption is not a stand-alone issue as economic offences, drugs, money laundering, terrorism and terror funding are all inter linked. "We need to have systemic checks, effective audits and capacity building and training against corruption in a holistic approach. There needs to be synergy and cooperative spirit among different agencies fighting corruption," he said.
Modi said poor people bear the brunt of corruption, but now they are getting 100 per cent benefit because of direct benefit transfers and the government has saved Rs 1.78 lakh crore because of the scheme.
The country has left behind the era of scams of thousands of crores of rupees that went on for decades and has marched forward, he said, asserting that his government has zero tolerance for corruption.
He said over 1,500 unnecessary laws have been repealed since 2014 and processes have been eased as people have been given digital options to fulfil their routine tasks like bill payments.
"The government should be present only where it is needed as per requirement. People should neither feel pressure of the government nor its absence," the prime minister said.
Modi stressed that preventive action against corruption is even more important than punitive action. "An assault on practices which give the scope of corruption is a must," he said.
The prime minister said fighting corruption is not the duty of a single agency. It is a collective responsibility. "Scams of thousands of crore, nets of shell companies, tax harassment, tax evasion hogged the discourse for years. It was a big challenge to change this atmosphere after the country decided to make a major change in 2014," he said.
Modi said the government set up an SIT on black money within days of swearing in, a decision which was pending even after orders of the Supreme Court. "The decision to set up the SIT showed the government's commitment against corruption," he said.
"We want to take the country to the league of leading nations in the world. It is important that our administrative systems are transparent, responsible and accountable, Corruption is a big enemy of such systems" he said.
Modi said earlier there was a nefarious industry to lobby for transfer and postings. Now the government has taken many policy decisions, has shown the will to change this situation and the lobbying for appointments to higher posts has ended, he added.
Earlier speaking on the occasion, Minister for Personnel and Training Jitendra Singh said when the government took charge under Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, he gave a mantra of zero tolerance towards corruption.
The commitment is being realised through many historical and revolutionary steps and decisions, he said.
One of the steps was to amend the Prevention of Corruption to include bribe giver as accused and also provide adequate cover to honest officials, he said. "It is important to have transparency to combat corruption. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 15, 2015 had asked if interviews can be done away with in the selection of group C and D officials, which the DoPT achieved within three-four months and started the selection sans interview from January 1, 2016," he said.
"During last six-seven years, the CBI too had established its credibility with one of the major step taken to revise its crime manual after 15 years," he said.
CBI Director Rishi Kumar Shukla said the prime minister's commitment towards honesty and good governance is well known.
"Steps taken by the government like DBT, GIMS portal or selection of honest officials, all these new practices have changed the picture of governance in the country. These transparency measures have helped in controlling corruption in the country," he said.
During the three-day conference, senior officials of the government, including the home secretary, the comptroller and auditor general, and the finance secretary, will discuss crucial issues related to investigation challenges in foreign jurisdiction, vigilance and corruption, amendments in Prevention of Corruption Act among others.
he national conference organised by the CBI coincides with the 'Vigilance Awareness Week', which is observed in the country annually from October 27 to November 2.
"Activities in this conference would be focused on Vigilance issues aimed at raising awareness and reaffirming India's commitment to promotion of integrity and probity in public life through citizen participation," a government statement said.