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Former supercop targets graft

Muaz Shabandri / 1 June 2012

Kiran Bedi is ever the optimist. The former Indian supercop is now training her guns on corruption, joining ranks with Anna Hazare, who leads the movement.

In an interview to Khaleej Times on Thursday she said: “On one hand we need money to fund infrastructure development while on the other, we are losing tax-payers’ money.”

In Dubai on a private visit, she spoke of the efforts to table the Lok Pal anti-corruption bill.

“Much of the resistance to the Jan Lokpal Bill comes from people who have vested interests and they are the ones who have benefited from corruption. I don’t expect them to surrender easily because the day they lose, they lose their corrupt money and face.”

Make corruption a crime and do not support it, says Civil Society Campaigner, Kiran Bedi

While the movement received traction with Anna Hazare’s fast unto death, the bill has yet to find success with lawmakers in the Indian parliament.

‘‘It is sown in people’s mind that corruption is wrong. It is a criminal act. If we don’t see the bill presented in this session of parliament, it will be voted in the next session,” says a confident Kiran.

Her belief in the people of India and their fight against white-collar crime comes in the wake of recent scams including the 2G-spectrum case, coal-mining scam and other construction related scams involving infrastructure projects across major cities.

“Our biggest achievement to date has been bringing corruption to the center stage and making people see it as a real crime. Earlier it was a way of life for people. Giving a bribe and taking a bribe, both have to be seen as a crime,” says Kiran.

She believes India needs to awaken to a new beginning free from corruption and white-collar crime as the country has to address pressing challenges in its march to become a global power.

“India faces a serious shortage of infrastructure and the country is in dire need for integrity of leadership. We need one million more schools and someone needs to address challenges like population management, development of schools and colleges and making more opportunities available to the youth.”

On her visit to the Delhi Private School (DPS) Dubai, she shared experiences from her work with the Indian Police and the United Nations. She retired from the Indian Police Service in 2007 to take up new challenges. Much of her career has been devoted to jail reforms, peacekeeping and social activism and she has won several awards and honours.

She has also set up the Navjyoti India Foundation and the India Vision Foundation for prison reformation, drug abuse prevention and child welfare. “Building an NGO was not a part of my job profile but I felt the need to do it. The idea was to help criminals to start a new life and not to go back to crime when they were free,” she told the students of DPS Dubai.

At 62, she now feels the need to take on corruption before it is too late. Her work with Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal and other civil-society activists has found a resonance at the grass-roots level with the common man.

While the country seeks to put an end to graft, the need for youth participation in Indian politics has been felt at a greater level than ever. Scams and irregularities involving politicians have become a regular feature of news headlines as resistance to adopt a transparent anti-corruption bill has created a dialogue in the society.

“Senior politicians have got a monopoly in Indian politics and nobody gives up power. That’s human nature. We need a more responsible and more aware youth who believes in good citizenship,” remarked Kiran.

When Kiran Bedi finished her speech in front of the school audience in Dubai, a standing ovation reinforced her place as one of India’s most popular woman. The thunderous applause resonated with her rising popularity as a face of the common man and the fight against white-collar corruption.

Her message was simple. “Anyone without a sense of gratitude cannot be a good citizen and a successful nation is only built by good citizens. We need to contribute our bit and pledge to make corruption a crime and not support it in any form.”




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