Indian PM Says Corruption Can Not Be Tackled Easily

Posted August 22nd, 2011 at 8:45 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

As anti-corruption protests continue throughout India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh says he is open to debate on a proposed anti-graft bill.

Prime Minister Singh reiterated Monday that concerns about proposed anti-corruption legislation should be taken up in India's parliament, as Indian activist Anna Hazare's hunger strike entered its seventh day. Mr. Singh noted that rooting out graft is complex.

Doctors say the 74-year-old activist has lost five kilograms, but is in good health.

Thousands of people have gathered in central New Delhi to support Hazare, whose hunger strike against corruption is galvanizing millions of his countrymen.

The activist began his fast Tuesday, calling for the government to pass tougher anti-graft legislation that will hold India's prime minister, judiciary and lower level officials more accountable.

In a speech in the eastern city of Kolkata, Prime Minister Singh said Monday the government's version is a “working draft” that can be changed. He said the government is open to a “reasoned debate on all issues.” But the Indian leader also stressed that there is no single solution to fighting corruption.

Earlier this month, the prime minister's ruling Congress party introduced an anti-corruption bill in parliament that would create a civil organization , with the power to investigate ministers and bureaucrats. But Hazare rejected the bill and called for parliament to pass a version drafted by civil society activists by August 30.

Hazare's campaign has struck a chord with millions of Indians – particularly the middle classes tired of endemic bribes and a series of corruption scandals.

Popular outrage has grown steadily over the past year as a string of high-profile corruption scandals has made headlines in national media. They include the sale of telecommunications licenses at below market value and numerous financial irregularities in India's hosting of last year's Commonwealth Games.

But not everyone supports Hazare's methods. Booker Prize-winning novelist Arundhati Roy wrote in the Hindu newspaper that legislation proposed by the activist will administer a “giant bureaucracy.”