The National United Christian Forum (NUCF) stands in solidarity with members of civil society in their agitation against corruption. The recent unearthing of several scams such as the telecom scandal and the Commonwealth Games scam, involving massive sums of money has only served to highlight the deep malaise affecting the Indian society. In 2010, the Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index ranked India at 87th of 178 countries.
The recent agitation is galvanized around the fast unto death by social activist Anna Hazare as part of a campaign that asks the government to ensure the participation of civil society in the drafting of an important new law, "the Lokpal Bill" to fight corruption.
Archbishop Vincent M. Concessao speaking on behalf of the NUCF said, "The people most affected by corruption are the poor, as corruption makes government schemes not only inaccessible to them but also allows for non implementation of government schemes and policies where they are most needed."
He added that, "The Bible forbids the taking of bribes. It is written that 'Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe makes people blind to what is right and ruins the cause of those who are innocent.' "
He also added that the present legal provisions are inadequate in as much they are meant solely for public servants and also require the sanction of government authorities for the prosecution of the accused. This is very painstaking process as often the sanctions are not forthcoming or take several years before any person can be prosecuted let alone convicted. The legal provisions also fail to provide for adequate protection and redressal for those who are victims of corruption.
Furthermore, India has very poor guidelines to protect those who speak out against corrupt practices and are whistle blowers. The legislature must also look to urgently enact a "Whistleblower Protection Act" which will ensure that the voices of the courageous few who speak out against corruption are not shut out.
The NUCF calls upon the church in India to respond to this clarion call and stand up against corruption. We cannot afford to delay another day, as the rights of citizens of India are trampled by those who rule by their greed and injustice.
Rev. Dr. Richard Howell