Iftikhar Gilani: What makes Denmark corruption-free



This article was published in Inquilab in Urdu language. Below is the English translation.

Inquilab is a multi-edition paper published simultaneously from 10 places and the largest circulated Urdu daily in India. The leading and widely circulated Pakistani daily Duniya also published it as lead page column.

Heading is a country without corruption,lessons for India and Pakistan

By Iftikhar Gilani

Before I landed at the Copenhagen Airport, the Organisation of Developed Countries OECD had just declared Denmark as the happiest place on earth. The country also consistently is being ranked either zero or the least corrupt country in the world. As India ranks 95th and Pakistan 134th out of 178 countries surveyed, it was my endeavour to probe what makes this country corruption-free and also the happiest.

But how Denmark has achieved the least corruption index? Politicians and civil society activists told that it was more to do with the homogeneity of the society, modest life style of politicians, a robust office of ombudsman (Lokpal) and a free media.

Speaker of the Danish Parliament, Mogens Lykketoft, who drives bicycle 10 kilometres every day to reach his office, like many ministers feels that the foundation of Danish democracy built on a strong trade union movement could be an answer. But the conventions apart, the practical steps like direct state funding of political parties and their election campaigns from the State Budget has kept the political parties away from favour seekers.

The Denmark-based vice-president of Transparency International, Knut Gotfredsen, says a powerful national auditor coupled with the office of Ombudsman, a person having insight on the state’s civil and military administration and elected by the parliament, could be an answer to how Denmark has curbed corruption. The parliamentary Ombudsman can investigate complaints against any authority even the prime minister and can even take his own initiative. Further, there are laws to punish bribe giver as well, to deter private companies and individuals as well. However, the courts and quasi-judicial tribunals have been kept out of its purview.

But, moreso and apart of these idealistic answers, the corruption is low due to the simplistic way of life of politicians, who are often role models for bureaucracy, corporate and the country. This is what Mahatma Gandhi wrote to Congress chief ministers in July 1937, when they assumed office in provinces.

“…lest Congressmen should think that they have a monopoly of simplicity and that they erred in 1920 in doing away with the trousers and the chair, let me cite the examples of Aboobaker and Omar. Rama and Krishna are pre-historic names. I may not use these names as examples. History tells us of Pratap and Shivaji living in uttermost simplicity. But opinion may be divided as to what they did when they had power. There is no division of opinion about the Prophet of Islam Muhammad and his companions who became calips, Aboobaker and Omar. They had the riches of the world at their feet. It will be difficult to find a historical parallel to match their rigorous life. Omar would not brook the idea of his lieutenants in distant provinces using anything but coarse cloth and coarse flour. The Congress Ministers, if they will retain the simplicity and economy they have inherited since 1920, will save thousands of rupees, will give hope to the poor and probably change the tone of the Services. It is hardly necessary for me to point out that simplicity does not mean shoddiness. There is a beauty and an art in simplicity which he who runs may see. It does not require money to be neat, clean and dignified. Pomp and pageantry are often synonymous with vulgarity. This unostentatious work must be the prelude to demonstrating the utter insufficiency of the Act to meet the wishes of the people and the determination to end it.”

It seems these teachings have been emulated by the politicians of Denmark. The followers of Mahatma Gandhi as well as of Prophet Muhammad have long back repudiated these teachings, only bringing misery to their people.

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Click on photo to read Iftikhar Gilani’s write-up in Urdu language in Inquilab

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Learn more

Knut Gotfredsen: Anti-corruption the Danish way
Video clip which shows you an excerpt of Iftikhar Gilani’s meeting with Transparency International, an organisation that monitors and fights corruption.


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