Corruption is so much in the limelight that it needs no introduction. This can happen in the form of the little money some of us bribe the corrupt to evade paying a hefty fine or imprisonment,to the extent of mega-scale scams. In short, it is a way of abusing public resource and office for private gains.
Corruption is a hydra-headed evil due to the fact that it is initiated not just by those in authority but also by the members of public who are willing to offer money, gift or other services to lure those in power for their own benefit, to circumvent laws, rules and procedures or to speed up a time-consuming long process through speed money.
But why should corruption be stopped if people are willing to pay extra to get things done?
Ideally, government should not offer services favorably to some, which are made available equitablyfor all. If both giver and the taker of bribesare into agreement, then corruption will favour the rich while denying the same to the poor, who arein fact the ones in need of governmentsupportthe most. This further contributes to inequality, poverty and a perception that government is anti-poor. This makes the system undemocratic, inefficientand further exploitative. The poor willhave to wait for weeks and months while the bribers gets the same servicesdone quickly. Such preferences make the poor all the more unproductive by keeping them wait for long. This further causes additional financial burdenthus widening the gap between the rich and the poor. As documented in facts, The Report on Income Disparity 2017 – released by OXFAM showed that India’s richest 1% holds 58% of the country’s total wealth.
The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything – ALBERT EINSTEIN
People bribe those in authority, but at the same time want a corruption-free government while also expecting the same government to bring back black-money into the system.
It is people who are to be blamed,when the outcomes of some elections suggestthat people have sold their votes for freebies and money. People do it with a mindset that-“Somethingis better than nothing”. “Weget at least this, instead of getting nothing at all”. The general public-opinion is that, many of them feel politics has got nothing to do with them. And once the election gets over,they feel they have no control over the government. But the truth is otherwise.
When people can voice their support for Jallikattu and Kambalain an unprecedented way to fight for their right to preserve their culture, while at the same time tolerate and even feed corruption, then this hypocrisy in the real sense. People have accepted corruption because they see it as something beyond their control or that which favors them, oblivious of the fact that it as a pervasive and an invisible evil. It is invisible in the sense – the public are unaware of how far it affects the society.
Corruption ‘happens’ due to lust for money, and money in cash is one of the important reasons. In our democratic system, it is people who elect their representatives who in turn become political executives. Talking in practical terms, political executives are also members of parties and they needmoney for election and other expenses to continue remaining in power. Though it may not be the case always, but there is a possibility. So, people should support genuine efforts by the government to check on corruption like cashless economy etc.
An intriguing paradox is that people vote for the same politicians who were convicted or are undergoing trials on chargesof corruption. They simply don’t punish them (by not voting for them) for the fact that, their leaders create a demigod-like persona to appear infallible. This myth must be broken. Such a faith exists because people need identity, and by associating themselves with those in power gives people a kind of security. Such obscurantism should be challenged, this can happen only through ‘education and sensible thinking’. Because, “Education makes people easy to lead, but difficult to drive; easy to govern, but impossible to enslave” – HENRY PETER
Corruption is fueled by the discretionary powers of officials and lack of transparency in governance/administration supported by vicious nexus of corrupt officials who become accomplices to each other. It is at the lower-level where petty corruption happens that directly affects the poor. People are exploited by redtapism, which is where most of the services are filtered down to those who can afford to bribe, andthose who can’t remain at the lower end.
“Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest whom you may have seen and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to them.” – MAHATMA GANDHI’S TALISMAN
In the recent times, there is a tendency of criticizing every Central Government initiative by those with vested interests by playing post-truth politics using mass media and social networking platformsto promote their propaganda. They do this by exploiting the sentiments of the marginals, thereby promoting a negative form of regionalism which is a serious threat. This widens the gap between government and the public thereby making citizen-centric initiativesless participative.Although over-centralization and attempts to induce homogeneity have to be checked,it should be done, only after examining the objectives behind initiativeswith rationality and sense; without giving space to negative form of regionalism.
If you are not part of the solution; then you are the Problem
As long as human greed exists, corruption will continue to pilfer the efforts of those working against it. No amount of CCTV or monitoring of DVAC in public offices can root out corruption unless there is public participation. In this highly connected digital world, people can report incidences of corruption to the concerned authorities and disseminate the same to the public to serve as deterrentand alsoas a precedent.
The relationship between the State and the citizen as master-client relationship must go. What is needed is awareness among the masses about their democratic, fundamental and statutory rights as well as means and ways to realise it. Here is where civil societies and NGOs can play a great role. Information is the starting point in a citizen’s quest for justice and also becomes a means to fight corruption and misgovernance or obtain better services.
People should increasingly participate in public affairs to decide their own lives. They should come together and demand for what is good to the society. For instance, demands can be made in the form of asking for Social Auditing in welfare initiatives. Transparency and accountability in governance instead of freebies. Quality education in government schools instead of populist schemes.
Demands will have to be impressed democratically and without resorting to violence or interfering too much into the works of honest authorities.These allwill require strong political-will andtogether peoplecanmake it possible.
In short, the change which I want to implement is to bepublic-conscious and to encourage others to strive for the samefor their own benefit. If each of us fight for what is due to us, we can become a progressive society without falling into the nexus of degeneration and guilt. As Hannah Arendt puts it,Power corresponds to the human ability not just to act, but to act in concert.It is only in the public realm or the political that ‘humans can realise their humanity’.
“If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother and the teacher.” – APJ ABDUL KALAM.
Author : P Goutham, 25 years from Chennai,India. A participant of International Essay Competition , August 2018.