Corruption is a serious malice

I had read in the Civics subject text-book in class five, and I continue to believe so. So do we all. We’ve always spoken against corruption, cursed the authorities and the babus practicing it religiously and voted blindly for ministers promising to tackle this malice. Haven’t we? (Now you can feel a ‘But’ coming here don’t you!) But (here it is!) do we really hate the C word and bribery as much as we believe? Do we really want corruption and bribery to be eradicated from India?

WANTED/UNWANTED CORRUPTION

I classify corruption and bribery into two categories: Wanted (willing) and Unwanted. The essence of the difference lies in the definition of ‘Corruption’. It is fraudulent conduct by those in power, for the favor of a particular other or self, typically involving bribery. Now, I am sure we can all recall ourselves slipping a well-folded hundred rupees bill to a traffic cop, as he catches us breaking a law. Or ‘donating’ a hefty amount to an educational institute in exchange for a seat, or ‘gifting’ our customers and clients to building ‘fruitful business relationships’. But does it really stop here? Corruption and Bribery have been so deeply injected into our nature that we don’t even realize the minutest levels at which we all practice it! We even bribe our kids. We bribe them for them to stay quiet in certain situations, we bribe them so they study harder or do the household chores. We in fact even encourage them to bribe. I do remember my uncle advising me to seek ‘help’ from certain peons in government offices so that my work in expedited.The truth is that corruption and bribery have ingrained themselves in our blood. Perhaps we’re really impatient and that’s why bribing is something we encourage at smaller levels, or perhaps this bribery has made us all impatient. It’s a cycle, like the chicken and egg problem.

Now, coming to the difference between Wanted and Unwanted corruption.

As long as we’re practicing it OR for as long as the act of bribery does no harm to another being, we don’t mind corruption, do we? We let it slip by, we even appreciate it. If an Indian spy bribes a Pakistani official for secret information about the latter’s security arrangements, we Indians will hail the spy. He’ll probably we awarded by the Indian government.

All this because WE (as a country) were doing it. The spy was just our representative. We don’t mind it even when we slip a few bucks to a police officer. It’s not harming anyone is it? But the moment we learn that the Defence ministry of India has awarded the contract of buying certain defense equipment to a below-par company, we all lose our cools. It’s a matter of national security, the man is a traitor, etc, etc, etc. This is what we all yell! If a business person bribes the government to acquire a piece of land, being used by poor farmers, we want the business person to be hanged to death and even the government to resign. This is unwanted corruption.

We can all talk and discuss this disease but for as long as we’re unwilling to stop it at the smallest level, we will all have plenty to talk and discuss. It has come to such an extent that our lives have started to depend on it. There are brokers and agents at various government offices who can get your job done in a jiffy. That’s many a time their only source of income. And it’s not like they feel any shame or remorse about it. They, however, expect sympathy and pity. They can be often found pleading, during negotiations. And we do give in to them, don’t we? Until recently, I had thought that the only way to get one’s driving license made was through bribing the agent who in turn would bribe the government employee sitting behind the desk. Otherwise, I can forget about ever driving a car. But not all the times are we forced to bribe someone. Many a time, we want it and even force it.

Like requesting a Ticket Checker in trains to let the offense of traveling without a ticket slide by offering to pay him directly and not the government. We even bribe him a seat and well, he has started to expect it now. There’s a thriving parallel economy due to this. No wonder, low-level government employees are wealthier than higher level corporate managers.

GIVER AND TAKER CYCLE

Another cycle that has been developed due to this is that of the giver and taker. Earlier in the country, people were expected to shell out a few bucks for the so-called betterment of others. Now, we’ve all grown so accustomed to this faster and convenience service that we don’t mind paying up a bit. This, in turn, has encouraged the takers do not expect it anymore, but demand it.

So, is there a way we can eradicate it? I say, absolutely not. Because we do not want it to get eradicated. We can’t let ourselves practice corruption and bribery and expect others to be ideal citizens. But there’s a way to contain this corruption. There are many areas where this can be legalized. It gives the government an opportunity to narrow down the parallel economy running on black money. It also increases the known wealth of the citizens upon which the appropriate tax rate can be designed. But even after all these steps, there’s no way that corruption and bribery are going to be eradicated from the country until we all have an epiphany and a change of heart. Such an event would need us to become selfless, drop greed completely and work towards the betterment of society as a whole instead of limiting our efforts towards ourselves or at most our families. Thus, I do not think that Corruption and Bribery can be eradicated from India at all.