India Insight

“Levels of corruption have gone down drastically in Delhi” – The Arvind Kejriwal interview, part 3

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By Frank Jack Daniel and Sruthi Gottipati

Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi’s new chief minister, stormed to power in the national capital in December on an anti-corruption platform.

His Aam Aadmi Party, or “Common Man’s Party”, uses a broom as its symbol to suggest it is sweeping the dirt out of politics. Kejriwal, a bespectacled former tax collector, spoke to Reuters in a wide-ranging interview a month after getting the top job, from the same modest apartment he’s lived in for the past 15 years. What follows is a lightly edited transcript of the third and final part of the interview.

(“Allow us to make mistakes, allow us to learn” – The Arvind Kejriwal interview, part 1)

(“People need to be allowed to do business” – The Arvind Kejriwal interview, part 2)

Following its strong performance in Delhi, interest in the year-old Aam Aadmi Party has surged. While polls suggest that the party is unlikely to win more than a dozen or so seats in country-wide elections this spring, its success in Delhi has shaken up the national race, with opposition leader Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party and the governing Congress party adopting Aam Aadmi’s anti-elite, anti-corruption language.

Nagpal case highlights challenges for civil servants in India

(Any opinions expressed here are not of Thomson Reuters)

How does a civil servant survive India’s labyrinthine government bureaucracies? The question has come up again after the government of Uttar Pradesh suspended an employee and charged her with illegally allowing the demolition of a wall that was going to form part of a mosque.

The case of Durga Shakti Nagpal, 28, boils down to whether she was inciting religious disharmony through her order, or whether she was getting her comeuppance for trying to stop a sand mining racket in India’s most populous state. Her suspension also has highlighted the difficulties that bureaucrats face every day.

We asked current and former bureaucrats: how do young officers deal with hostile politicians and superiors? Does the IAS need changes to how it operates to make it easier for civil servants to do their jobs honestly? Should the judiciary control the IAS, not the legislature?

The Unique Identity number — putting all eggs in one basket?

There was a television ad some time back where a village leader played by Bollywood actor Abhishek Bachchan cutely decrees that feuding villagers would be known by their mobile numbers rather than names denoting caste or community.

It’s an idea that no longer seems far-fetched.

This week, the finance minister allocated 1200 million rupees to  the Unique Identification Authority of India, headed by former Infosys chief Nandan Nilekani.

The project provides a unique identity number, something like the U.S. social security number, to India’s billion-plus citizens.

Passport to hell – A day battling India’s stifling bureaucracy

Surojit GuptaHaving covered government policy for years, I have lost count of the number of foreign businessmen I have heard complaining about how difficult it was to set up in India. But a visit to a government passport office just outside the capital this week showed it can be just as frustrating getting out.

The government has been talking about easing rules for the issue of passports, and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has time and again called for better governance.

Both were in short supply in Ghaziabad, a chaotic urban mess in Uttar Pradesh state, one of India’s least developed, where to get anything done, it seems, you have to call in a favour.

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