By Nizam A. Khan
Dec 20 - 26, 1999
Eradication of corruption is crucially important for the economic well
being and progress of any country. Every one pays lip service but few know how this can
actually be done. The purpose of writing this paper is to place before you a systematic
method which can abolish corruption besides many other evils from any organisation. You be
the judge what I am saying is credible or not.
Change the boss
Actually the basic requirement is to have a genuine desire and a
resolute will to do that. Since it would be unrealistic to expect that from a sitting head
of a corrupt organisation it is necessary to change the boss. Better even the entire top
management. And give him a strong mandate to deal with the problem(s) with an iron hand.
Since this would be the primary step it is necessary to exercise extreme care in selecting
the C.E.O. Who must:
be a person of highest integrity beyond any shadow of doubt.
have the full backing and support of the establishment.
have authority and powers commensurate with the mandate.
If he is endowed with tact and foresight he will start by taking
management and unions into confidence and publicly takes an oath, "not to leave any
stone unturned to eradicate corruption from the organization. So help me God". This
ritual does have some meaning and purpose behind it.
Insulate the employees from exposure
The most common method of extorting bribe from common man is to create
obstacles and delays in his work until he succumbs to the desire of greasing the palms and
get his job done. The remedy is very simple and straightforward. Insulate the employees
from exposure to general public. They should not be allowed to roam in office corridors,
following their files at every stage of its process. Their entry should be restricted to a
reception hall only. Wherein there should be many tables or windows, each occupied by one
responsible officer. Who will then become the only person in the organisation to see the
applicant's case through to its final conclusion. His duties will be to:
give all necessary information to the applicant, what formalities and
pre-requisites have to be completed before his case can be entertained.
he will register his case, give him an acknowledgment receipt and
then send his case to various departments as per usual procedure.
as a sole representative of the applicant he will follow the case
through each department as if it was his own and try to expedite it. In e=case of any
in-ordinate delays he will approach the superiors for redress.
during the process if any discrepancies from the applicant's side are
detected in the case, only he will get in touch with the applicant on phone and get the
matters sorted out.
hand over the documents to the person after due completion of all
Caution: this implies that each officer in the reception hall can take
only a limited number of cases in hand, which he can efficiently handle. That means the
number of officers in the reception hall must be sufficient to handle all comers. This
number can be dynamically increased or decreased as the rush of work increases or
decreases during certain times. Once this procedure is in place it is bound to become more
and more effective and efficient every day. Computerisation will make it still more so.
Establish accountability cells
Most common method of handling a complaint in any organisation, even in
some good ones, is to redirect it to the relevant quarters for redressal. Or at the most
an explanation is also called for. Isn't it most unfortunate that the very perpetrators
are asked to handle it. No wonder it is handled with a "devil may care"
attitude. In rare cases where the C.E.O. is strong and means business the grievance is
redressed, and an all clear signal sent to him. And that becomes the end of it. As a
matter of fact handling individual complaints with sole objective of redressal is not good
management. Complaints are symptoms of disease and a valuable tool in the hands of a
doctor for diagnosis. I have yet to come across an organisation where each complaint is
painstakingly analysed to find its root cause and take remedial actions to remove it. This
should be the clearly defined objective of a complaints cell. After conducting a thorough,
independent inquiry they should submit a detailed report to C.E.O. consisting of 3 parts.
Suggesting actions to be taken to redress the grievance.
Pinpointing the actual cause or the culprit. And
Suggesting ways and means to remove the cause for good.
Where individuals are the root cause, C.E.O. after taking actions to
redress the complaint, should refer it to accountability cell for taking the culprits to
Archaic and cumbersome rules, regulations, procedures, forms etc. are
also often at the root of many complaints. These are used as a big handle to harass
people, delay the work and extort bribe from them. Such cases should be referred to
systems cell for necessary improvements in them. Big scope exist for such work.
Computerisation must be at the top of systems priorities. Without this
no organisation can survive in twenty-first century. Nor can the corruption be eradicated
These three cells working independently but in tandem can go a long way
not only in eradicating corruption, which was the primary objective, but also many other
evils. Thereby improving the working and image of the organisation.
Important: in order to achieve good results, it is necessary that these
3 cells must:
report directly to C.E.O. and have full backing and support of the
be adequately manned to handle all work being generated in the
have a very lucrative results oriented rewards system in place.
be joined with other similar cells in the country through a network.
be accessible to all employees and outsiders very easily. That is
their address, phone and fax nos. E-mail address etc. must be widely publicised and common
man encouraged to use it. The very publicity should give an impression that you mean
performance of each cell must be reviewed regularly by top management
at least once every month. Good performance, producing concrete results must be recognised
Get accounts audited
You can get rid of the corrupt and fraud employees through this one big
clean surgical operation in a relatively shorter period. No doubt you will face fierce
resistance by the vested interests. The only argument you have in your favour is that the
regular auditors and procedures have failed to nip the corruption in the bud, which they
are paid for. Because the tentacles of corruption seem to have reached there. Hence the
need for this radical step. It requires courage to do this. But the cancer of corruption
is distressing enough to call for it. You may even have to mobilize legal and
constitutional cover to get this done.
The guilty, after facing fair and transparent disciplinary actions, be
given exemplary punishments to deter others from indulging in such malpractices. In order
to make this exercise more effective the audit firm, besides their usual remuneration,
should be given an extra incentive bonus for good performance. e.g. a certain percentage
of all amounts recovered from the corrupt and fraudulent, as a result of their work.
Get of rid of the opulent
Those employees whose life style is ostensibly not commensurate with
their salary and status are positively not desirable to be retained in service. By
definition an opulent employee is one whose other income from assets in his own or
immediate family's names and other sources exceeds his gross salary. If he is not able to
explain satisfactorily how the wealth declared in his wealth statements has been acquired
he should be dismissed. And if he has some good explanations c.g. inheritance etc. he
should be asked to resign honorably for the simple reason that his presence is
demoralizing for others and vitiates working atmosphere of the organisation. No further
justification is required. Yet here are a few more:
he needs some time, effort and attention to look after his other
business. This can only be done at the cost of his duties and responsibilities of service.
since he does not depend on his salary for his livelihood, he cannot
put in his heart, soul and undivided attention into his job, as the others do, whose
livelihood depends on it. Therefore he should make room for them. He deserves no
sympathies because he will not go hungry on streets.
and if by any chance his other income is from sources which are in
conflict with organisation's interests, he should not be tolerated for even a single day.
No matter how small the income is e.g. a policeman owning a public transport. Which is
conflict of interests.
Note: this is an important cleansing step without this you cannot
rekindle the spirit of honesty and selfless service, the most important ingredients of a
clean and efficient organization. Half hearted measure will not do any good.
Revise time salaries
One of the causes given for corruption are low salaries. If steps 3,4
and 5 have been effectively implemented quite a few employees would have left. Besides
some others would have been absorbed for the implementation of steps 2 and 3. This should
have taken care of a good part of the surplus staff, a malaise present in almost every
organization. This is the time when a general raise in the salaries should be given. Even
if this first tranche is not a substantial one, it is an important motivating and morale
building gesture. If you still feel that there is a definite need to further reduce the
staff you can offer a lucrative handshake to a few carefully selected employees, who in
your considered opinion have lost their usefulness for the organisation (dead wood). It is
not advisable to offer a general golden hand shake scheme, lest you may loose some
competent employees. The suggested timing of this general increase is such that employees
under investigation for any misconduct do not get the benefits while those who are being
let off for no fault of theirs do get something extra to wipe out their tears with. The
second more generous tranche of increase in salaries should be promised subject to a
predetermined quantifiable improvement in the performance of the organization.
Some important points:
These are some of the actions required for eradication of corruption
from any organization. There are a few more which are not directly related but very
important for the health of any organisation e.g.
a good performance appraisal system which rewards good performance
and not just seniority.
a system of rewards for those who make innovative suggestions
resulting in improvement of working and profitability of the organisation.
a system of rewards for those who provide any information, resulting
in recovery of misappropriated amounts.
Resistance to change is a natural human instinct. Top quality
managerial skills are required to bring about any change in an organization. There are two
ways of doing it. Either by an evolutionary process which takes longer time but is easier
to counter the resistance. Or by a revolutionary operation which can achieve results
quickly but is painful and requires guts to do that. The action steps suggested above
remain the same in both cases. Except that in the later case audit of accounts and
computerization is started by the new boss on day one. Every thing else will then fall in
line by itself in due course. The C.E.O. depending on his own personality may choose the
line of action he feels relatively more comfortable with. The road is difficult
For the sake of brevity I have not gone into details of many points.
This is just the tip of an iceberg. However I will be pleased to answer all queries if
given an opportunity to make a presentation before any group of authorities who are
willing to take up this challenge as a service to nation.