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Anti-corruption helpline raises hopes in Delhi

anti-corruption-helplineNew Delhi, Jan 9: A day after it was launched, the new anti-corruption helpline number has the people of Delhi hoping that incidents of corruption faced by the common man will come down drastically.

This is the third promise of the Aam Aadmi Party to be fulfilled, after the decision of free supply of over 650 litres of water to each household, and the halving of electricity charges for those using up to 400 units a month.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced Wednesday a helpline to report incidents of bribe. Anyone who is asked to pay a bribe by any official in the capital can seek help on phone number 011-27357169.

Activist Subhash Chandra Agarwal, who has filed more than 6,000 Right to Information (RTI) applications, said even though the success of this “new experiment” is still to be experienced, the very announcement of such a helpline could impact those seeking to enrich themselves by corrupt means.

“It would certainly create some fear psychology in corrupt officials, just like the RTI. After RTI, officials and ministers are afraid of incorrect records and files,” he said.

Agarwal, however, added that a phone number easier to remember should be launched soon, and a registration number should be given to complainants.

Kejriwal has already said that a four-digit number that could be committed to memory easier would be released in about five days.

I.S. Bakshi, principal of Delhi’s Dyal Singh College, said the helpline could be a “deterrent” to corruption, but for the practice to cease, people’s mentality must change.

“This helpline will definitely prove to be a deterrent, but for it to function well, mindsets of the people need to change. People should do their work without seeking favours. There is an illness in society that needs to be curbed, and I believe this is the first step,” Bakshi told IANS.

The anti-corruption sentiment has been running high in the national capital since Gandhian activist Anna Hazare launched his movement for passing the anti-graft Lokpal bill in 2011.

Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party’s victory has been credited to this anti-corruption sentiment.

Many people in Delhi, young and old and working in a range of professions, expressed happiness and hope at the launch of the helpline.

“I think it is going to make some real difference. I am sure any official will think twice before asking for a bribe,” said Shreya Sharma, a student of Delhi university.

“I welcome the helpline launched by the chief minister and hope people make the most out of it,” said 42-year-old housewife, Rekha Joshi.

Joshi however added that citizens were equally responsible for the “bribe culture”.

“Citizens are equally responsible for this bribe culture… we look for an easy way out, and hence indulge in bribing. I think this will help in breaking this vicious circle,”

Swapan Bhattacharjee, 65, caretaker of a residential complex in Delhi’s Dwarka area, said: “It might work out to some extent, but those who have had their work done by bribing the other party will just continue doing so. I hope that the team behind this helpline will attend to complaints, and bring about change”.

There was, however, the sceptical voice too.

“However optimistic and well-meaning the idea is, I don’t think it is going to work. The idea of a sting operation is not very viable. I don’t think I would take the pain of doing a sting operation on anyone. Sting operations, as we have seen before, aren’t a very reliable tool for investigation,” said Debojit Dutta, 26, student.

“Instead of opening a helpline and then helping people conduct sting operations, a redressal forum that would investigate complaints and act upon them with transparency and efficiency might have been more welcome,” Dutta said.

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