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ESSAY : IS CORRUPTION-FREE SOCIETY: A DISTANT DREAM?
Thursday, 10 July 2014 04:01

 



IS CORRUPTION-FREE SOCIETY: A DISTANT DREAM?

Once chanakya had said that honey would be kept on your tongue and you would not be allowed to taste; it is impossible. Corruption is the misuse of public power for private profit. It involves those behaviours on the part of government officials, whether politicians or civil servants, where they improperly and unlawfully enrich themselves or those close to them, by the misuse of the public power entrusted to them. Corruption in any where is threat to every here as the saying one rotten apple spoils the barrel. Harshad Mehta, Sukhram, Tehelaka, Telgi cases are the great example of corruption in India.

Literacy and corruption are interlinked. Most literates are more corrupted in most of the cases and the most illiterate are the victims of corruption. As in India most of the people are illiterate so they are becoming the easy victims of corruption. Every patriotic Indian realizes that if there is one factor that is keeping India under the spell of perpetual poverty and which makes the life of the common citizen miserable, it is corruption. A citizen faces corruption practically at every level and every sector of life. It could be the local rationing department, police, municipal authorities or educational institutions like schools and colleges. In the industry inspector-raj has become a code word for regular bribes collected by the public servants at the cutting edge of administration of the various departments of Central and State governments.

Corruption is anti-national, anti-economic development and anti-poor. Nevertheless we have perhaps come to take corruption as a fact and a way of life. This may be partly due to sociological reasons and partly due to a sense of helplessness and defeatism. Corruption is harmful in three different ways:

Rajiv Gandhi once observed that out of every rupee meant for the anti- poverty programmes, only 15 paise reached the beneficiary. Out of the 85 paise may be 40 paise can be accounted for as administrative overheads. The leakage of the remaining 45 paise is definitely due to corruption. Corruption is, therefore, anti-poor. Corruption is also anti-economic development. Political interference, reduced attractiveness of service and declining morale has all combined to whittle away officials’ will to remain honest.

The biggest cost is political. Petty corruption is especially endemic at the lower, clerical levels of administration — precisely the point at which the ordinary citizen comes into daily contact with officialdom. People are forced to pay bribes for securing virtually any service connected with the government, even that which is theirs by right and law. People naturally tend to judge the entire structure of government on the basis of direct experiences with the agents of government. It would be difficult to exaggerate the revulsion felt by ordinary Indians toward the ubiquitous and institutionalized venality of public life.

Evil social practices also promote corruption. One major social cause that promotes corruption is the dowry system. Every public servant wants to see that his daughter is married off well and there’s continuous pressure for having a substantial level of dowry. This may be one of the reasons why one comes across cases where even public servants who have otherwise led a clean life become vulnerable to corruption towards the end of their career. Dowry system is definitely one of the social roots of corruption in our country.

Equally important is the social pressure in a competitive society for ensuring that children get the best possible education. Right from kindergarten in every educational institution, there is pressure of competition, and education has become commercialised. This has been further accentuated by government policies about affirmative action resulting in a great incentive for self-financing colleges who charge a lot of donation fee and most of it is collected in black. Education pressure and corruption in the education sector is another social factor contributing to corruption in our system.

One of the social roots of corruption in India can be traced to our Indian culture of tolerance. Equally important is another psychological factor. Power is never demonstrated in a society unless it is misused. In certain communities, being as corrupt as possible and amassing as much wealth as possible is seen as a macho demonstration of “competence”. If this is the attitude, those sectors of society that did not have an opportunity to share the power cake in the past may also rationalize that they must emulate those who had earlier enjoyed misuse of their power and amassed wealth by rampant corruption. Thus, a vicious cycle of corruption is launched where a society tolerates amassing of wealth and does not question how that wealth is accumulated.

Is eliminating corruption a myth or reality? If we believe corruption can be eliminated, it can be; if not, it will remain a reality. So is it a distant dream or can this dream be fulfilled is a billion dollar question.

In conclusion, corruption in India exists because of the unsatisfied basic needs of the general population. Corruption in India cannot be eradicated by questioning ethical standards of its population. Removal of corruption can only be achieved by right macro-economic policies and by reducing government control.

Honest political leadership is a must as a first step. Opening the economy for the investors around the world can provide the needed capital. Fresh ideas and entrepreneurial spirit has to replace the bureaucratic government control for a wealthier society. Supply of basic commodities has to be higher than the demand for general population not to bribe any government officials. Only skilled entrepreneurs hired by public shareholders can bring the money losing monster public sector to profitability. An efficient tax collection mechanism supported by computerised revenue reporting systems of individual businesses would be a step in the right direction. Qualified political leadership is required to understand and implement such policies.

Most importantly, political will of the leaders will be required to take such actions. In Japan and South Korea, former prime ministers and children of presidents have been jailed for corruption. In India, not one senior politician of the many who have been implicated in scandals - and they are numerous - has so far been convicted. The labyrinthine legal system is used to frustrate the course of justice.

Three-points can be suggested to check corruption. The first is simplification of rules and procedures. Corruption is like malaria, handled by giving medicine to those affected and simultaneously preventing the breeding of mosquitoes. Many of our rules and procedures breed corruption. Orders have, therefore, to be issued to check and simplify procedures. One example is a ban on post-tender negotiations in government purchases, except with the lowest bidder. Such negotiations are a flexible source of corruption.

The second step is empowering the public and bringing in greater transparency. Every office should have a board stating, ‘Don’t pay bribes. If anybody asks for a bribe, you can complain to the CVO, CVC.’ This way we can educate the public who come to every small office of the GOI and other organisations like banks and public sector undertakings that there is a way out if they do not want to pay bribes. The third step is strong punishment to those who are involves in corruption.

Corruption is the greatest hindrance in the development of ever-developing nation. If we want to replace the “developing” tag from our beloved country by “developed”, we have to take stringent measures and stand against the parasite of corruption together