Sunday, February 1, 2015

Code of Conduct and Certification Needed Urgently For Our Politicians

Over the last few days, I have read, with a sinking heart, the letter Jayanthi Natarajan wrote to Sonia Gandhi, responses and questions that parties and politicians have raised, counter-allegations and commentaries made by party spokes persons, journalists, et al.  In all this noise of Rahul-Gandhi-and-Congress haters, we seem to have forgotten to demand:

1. Where is the defined Code of Conduct for elected officials?
2. How can we prevent undue influence in conducting the business of government?

There is no excuse for doing something wrong

I find it disgusting that any Government official can state that they did something wrong because they were asked to by a supervisor / superior.  Ask anyone in corporate India if this is a valid reason. No, it isn't.  It is not an acceptable excuse.  If a supervisor asks you to jump off the roof, would you?  No. If something is wrong, it is WRONG.

Anyone who has been through Compliance Training and Certification knows this.  One of the best Compliance Trainers I know, tells batches of learners, to listen to their inner voice, to their feelings. He says, "If you feel something is not correct, or something makes you uncomfortable, or you can not openly talk about what you are doing / not doing (other than company secrets), then the chances are you are that you are doing something that is not compliant with the Code of Business Conduct of the company. DON'T DO IT!"

Where is the Code of Conduct for Elected Officials?

Try Google-ing "code of conduct for politicians in India" and all you will get is the code of conduct defined by the Election Commission.  This code of conduct covers what political parties and politicians can and can not do during an election campaign. After they are elected, it seems that there is no code of conduct.

From what I can see, elected officials fall back on the oath that they take when they are appointed to an office. The oath is a long one liner, with no specifics, guidelines, rules, etc. I believe that just swearing to bear allegiance to the constitution of India is not enough.

Why can we not have a code of conduct for our elected officials? One that they must be trained and certified on before they take responsibility and accountability of any office?  Why can we not have them sign a Declaration of Compliance to this Code of Conduct as we do in corporate India?

Mr / Ms Politician, Allegiance to Country Trumps Allegiance to Party

Given that we are a democratic country, I am disgusted that political parties are autocracies.  What the party head wants is what is done, even if the party head is not an  elected and appointed member of government.  Where is the debate?  Maybe this is done behind closed doors, maybe not.  But to me, the ordinary not-so-political Indian, it seems that all parties are run like small fiefdoms.

Elected officials, seem to have forgotten that they are here "for the people".  What seems to be more important is to keep the autocrat happy vs do what is right for the country.  If the county was more important, then all it takes is for the elected official to refuse to do what is incorrect, to fight for what is right, face down the dictator. Become the whistle-blower.

There is no role of  30 years of service to a political party or loyalty to the high command.  It fades into nothingness, if what is done hurts the country.  For it is disloyal to the country.

I believe that the issue of undue influence of party on governance exists in all parties.
I believe that we need a code of conduct for all elected members of government.
I believe we need strict action against violators, irrespective of age, seniority, party.

Try taking a page out of Corporate India.  We do have some good practices.

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