January 6, 2017

Visualizing a New India 2017- Episode 2: Minimizing Corruption

2017 is here; Every New year we make certain resolutions and keep some of them. We start with new aspirations and realign our goals. Therefore, it is time that we visualize a new India, without corruption, efficient technologically, where everyone is delivered timely justice and every individual has access to school and education. This is the second blog of my New Year series "Visualizing a New India" where I explore scope of Information Technology, to overcome India's greatest problem- Corruption. 

Interlinking Identity and Transactions- Key to Reduce Corruption  

It is undeniable that corruption would cease to exist once every transaction of ours and every interaction of ours with the Government of India gets recorded and then interlinked with our singular identity. With this objective Dr. Manmohan Singh introduced the Aadhar scheme.

We require a universal interlinked Government of India software which serves each and every governmental institution from police to the judiciary, from PSUs to Income Tax. This single software must have a base which is common for all departments and PSUs using it, supplemented by multiple branches and add-ons for each department and PSU, meeting its specific requirement.

Now, this software will work on the basis of your Aadhar card. The first stage will be to link all bank accounts with Aadhar cards only, and no other identity proofs. All new bank accounts being opened and existing accounts must have an Aadhar card linked with it which must be verified by fingerprints or retina scan. This verification process must be made mandatory at all banks.

The second stage will be to make Aadhar card the basis of your transaction. For example, subsidies on LPG cylinders and electricity must not be reduced from their direct price but be transferred into the buyer’s account. One will have to pay the unsubsidised bill for electricity and LPG cylinder at the corporation’s office. But only if the individual brings along his/her Aadhar card and this transaction is recorded in the Govt. of India software, will the subsidy be transferred in their bank accounts.

The third stage would be further incentivizing Aadhar cards’ linkage to bank accounts. The government must start subsidizing medicines and healthcare at the government hospitals, which must also be using the Govt. of India software. Enter your Aadhar card number on the software’s transaction and get the subsidies transferred in your bank account. Or else pay the unsubsidised prices. The same can be done at ration shops where the grains are sold at rationed price.

Once the culture develops, the fourth stage can be ‘no identity means no transaction.’ The Aadhar card must be made mandatory for any transaction with governmental institutions and PSUs.

How to get caught?

This would help in not only digitalising all transactions and moving towards the much talked about, cashless economy but also catch untaxed money. The general practice followed in Indian households is that the untaxed money is used for everyday transactions and international tours which aren’t shown in Income Tax returns. However, when these everyday transactions are being recorded on the Government of India software and being linked with your Aadhar card, the next time you go to your Income Tax office, the clerk opens your Aadhar card page on the unified Government of India software and he/she can see the total money you have spent. Voila! You are caught and you get to pay a penalty much larger than the subsidies.  And mind you, your Aadhar card is anyway linked to your bank account. So the Income Tax department has the legal right to extract money from your very own bank account.

Remember, this is not a shock therapy but a process which must be carried out in a time period of a decade or so. Secondly, once mobilized, such a unified Govt. of India application, as mentioned above, can be used for many other purposes apart from reducing corruption. Thirdly, a lot of people argue that making a law doesn't help in reducing corruption in itself as it would queue up many cases in our already lagging judiciary only. However, I think that just because our justice delivery system is slow, does not make introducing the law a bad idea, though, I agree that speeding up the judiciary might make this law more effective and hence, must be looked at in context with my suggestions to improving the justice delivery system here.
All feedback is welcome at abhimanyusethia12@gmail.com !

Also Read- FasciNative: Visualizing a New India 2017- Episode 1:Speeding Up the Indian Judiciary
FasciNative: Visualizing a New India 2017- Episode 3: Moving Towards a Cashless Economy

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