By Tanishq Dedhia

“Corruption is a cancer that steals from the poor, eats away at governance and moral fiber, and destroys trust“

Robert Zoellick, the eleventh president of the World Bank feels that Corruption is the main cause of the existing Inequality.

Now we might wonder that what corruption is, what the core causes are and why it is so highly prevalent, inspite of so many efforts taken to eradicate it from society.

In layman’s terms, Corruption is a form of dishonest or unethical conduct by a person entrusted with a position of authority, often to acquire personal benefit. But actually it’s a broader term in a macroeconomic perspective highlighting the shortcomings of society.

Corruption generally happens when people who are elected by democratic societies and handed authority, misuse the money they are allocated from the government for projects, the money paid by the citizens of a country etc.

”What happens to that money?” – is a mystery we will never be able to solve, unless we put an end to corruption.

Corruption can include giving or accepting bribes or inappropriate gifts, double dealing, under-the-table transactions, manipulating elections, diverting funds, laundering money, and defrauding investors.

Apart from politics, corruption can happen in financial sector as well, like rigging of markets (Harshad Mehta), investment bankers running Ponzi schemes. The end results are such that the common man, and eventually the perpetrator, both have to suffer due to the consequences.

In India it is a result of the connection between bureaucrats, politicians and criminals. Earlier, bribes were paid for getting wrong things done, but nowadays bribes are paid even for getting right things done, at right time.

For example, the classic story, “Bholaram ka Jeev“ by Harishankar  Parsai,  explains that a man couldn’t get his pension file cleared before dying, since he refused to give the so called “Chai- Paani”. The dead man’s soul comes back to the earth to find his file, where he was asked to give multiple bribes. Although he is dead, his soul comes searching for his pension file. Even Naradji is not spared; he has to give his Veena as ‘weight’ (read bribe) for freeing the protagonist Bholaram’s soul. Harishankar, in his satirical narrative, has highlighted the ironies of today’s society, vastly influenced by corruption. Isn’t the same story relevant today – as not much has changed from then and now? We have to realize the magnitude at which corruption has escalated, disrupting our daily lives. It has made us realize that it is high time, we took a wake up call.

Further, corruption has become something respectable, and acceptable in India, because people with high social status are involved in it. Social corruption like less weighing of products, adulteration in edible items, and bribery of various kinds, have incessantly infiltrated in the society, and became a part of its circadian rhythm.

In today’s scenario, if a person wants a government job, he has to pay money in lakhs together to the higher officials irrespective of satisfying all the eligibility criteria. In every office, one should either give money to the employee concerned, or arrange for some sources, to get the work done. There is adulteration, and duplicate weighing of products in food and civil supplies department (by unscrupulous workers who cheat consumers) by playing with the health and lives of the people.

In the assessment of property tax, the officers charge money even if the house is built properly and structurally alright (according to the Government rules and regulations). If the house is not built properly, they will take the money to prove the wrong as right. Corruption has disrupted the balance, and it is a disturbing and upsetting trend.

There are several causes for it happening.

“Power does not corrupt, fear corrupts, perhaps the fear of loss of power.” 

Do you ever feel that you’d rather settle for an amount with the traffic police, or the ticket checker in a train? Yes, even that accounts for corruption. While there might be several causes for it, I personally feel it as an ethical issue and it shows lack of integrity in a person, rather than lack of faith in the legal system .

The most important factor is the nature of the human being. People in general, have a great thirst for luxuries and comforts, and as a result of which, they get themselves involved in all unscrupulous activities, that result in monetary or material benefits. A human being just wants more and more, and his desires never end. There are reasons for this unending hunger for material possession. The cause for this deep rooted.

Moral and spiritual values are not given utmost importance in educational system. That being the main cause, we witness people of defunct ethics around us. Even if the right things are taught, modern people feel that it is foolish to employ the education into normal life. Also the salary paid to employees is very less, and as a result of which they are forced to earn money by illegal ways. This reason at large is applicable only to political and government officers. In the other sectors, “Money” has destroyed the integrity of people, making them selfish. The punishments imposed on the criminals are inadequate. The political leaders have spoiled the society completely. They lead a luxurious life and have a careless and carefree attitude towards needs of the countrymen. People of india are not awakened, and enlightened. They fear to raise their voice against anti-social elements, and happenings prevailing in the society.

Public openly criticize corruption, but interestingly there is no unity among the public to stop corruption. If a person wants to get his work done, he gets it done through corrupt means, and later criticizes the corrupt official. If the public stands united against corruption in a way, that no one is ready to offer bribes to get their work done, then the corrupt officials will have no other option but to work in a corruption free manner.

During election, politicians try to lure the people to vote for them, by offering money and other things. If these politicians win and get power, they try to regain 10 to 100 times the amount spent for their elections. This is an unending and vicious cycle. It is going to require loads of efforts to break free, to ensure a “Corruption Free India”. We will have to take efforts on two levels, namely micro and macro. Every individual will have to pick up the baton and raise his voice, take action against this vice and as the saying goes “drop, drop makes an ocean …”, the individual changes will reflect on a macro level, and finally ensure a corruption free country.

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.

A. P. J. Abdul Kalam