Somesh Arora: The hypocrisy of Vigilance oath

The Hippo Oath of Vigilance Week: With all the controversy about whether CVC should go or stay, whether his integrity is questionable or not, I am reminded of an annual ritual of observance of vigilance week within the Government of India, wherein, all the public servants of Govt. of India are made to undertake an oath of maintaining absolute integrity and honesty. That a number of them keep getting caught on the next day only, because vigilance agencies have also to meet their targets and show better performance in that week, is another matter.

Why have such oaths, makes no sense to me. Statistics bear me out that since the process of administration of this oath started in India; it has only slipped in its ranking of being a corrupt nation. Why can’t we have laws which are simple and leave no discretion with individuals, so that corruption is reduced and pay the Government servants- a fair living wage as is enshrined in our Constitution?

Will it not make sense if the vigilance week is spent by getting and implementing suggestions from the Government servants on reducing cumbersome laws, procedures and systems, which can potentially reduce corruption? I have been told about a senior revenue official who herded all his staff to undertake the `Vigilance week oath’ by calling all his juniors as corrupt who at least deserved to be administered this oath, in a parrot like chorus. The guy himself had to cool his heels in the jail a few days later after being caught red-handed. If we cannot remove corruption from administration, let us not, make some of the Public servants, even Hippocrates by purposelessly administering such oaths.