Can we wipe out corruption and bribery from India?

Can we wipe out corruption and bribery from India?

Can we wipe out corruption and bribery from India?


In most textbooks, India is portrayed as one of the fastest growing developing countries with an ironically high poverty rate. Poverty indeed is the core problem that India faces followed by greed and irresponsibility.These three problems are inter-related and in most circumstances, they end up creating a new and unique problem which might roughly be termed as ‘corruption’. Poor people take corrupted steps in hope of becoming rich and rich people indulge in corruption in fear of losing what they already have. It is impossible to get rid of this insecurity complex unless government literally guarantees everything to everyone which is honestly very absurd. In terms of corruption, more or less every one of us is corrupted, and the politicians and the religious heads have the worst record in it. The corruption is triggered because the laws also come with a handful of flaws which can be detected even with bare eyes. The irresponsibility of Indian citizens simply boosts the spirit of corruption.

As far as corruption is concerned, the educated and the illiterate, the rich and the poor, the high-class and the low-class, none have a spotless reputation. No particular group of people is free to be blamed so no one is in a position to boycott the corrupt or throw the first stone of accusation and the result is the prevalence of corruption, black marketing, nepotism, or adulteration of food and drink along with many others. Since the number of corrupt is just too many, the law can trap only a handful of the corrupt under its legal net.  All these kind of corruptions are like cancer to blood.

All developing countries are hunting grounds for corrupt people and thus India has also inherited a legacy of corruption. Corruption is more about economic incentives than that of a social behavior. Social behavior would have quickly changed if there were no economic incentive for corruption. To a large extent, socialist policies sent a wrong message and changed society’s behavior and attitude. There is always some premature welfarism particle that comes with the socialist policies because, with it, a rational man can sense a loaf of bread by the bounty of the state. For example, by guaranteeing employment for at least 100 days, the minimum wage job scheme deflects people from a productive to an unproductive type of work. Moreover, socialist policies also tend to increase government expenditure in terms of universal subsidies which often ends up in wrong pockets.

Previously, religion had much control over morality but due to globalization and vast spread corruption, it is reduced to worshipping.In India, the pursuit of religion means the pursuit of peace of mind to a large extent but today the concept of religion is itself falsified in India and its citizens are fighting against each other forming own religious groups. Furthermore, we are also facing the burns of by-products of religion which ranges from astrology and palmistry to casteism and out-caste to jihad and Bajrang Dal. On one hand, religion is known to save innumerable people from drug addiction, insecurity complex, and nervous breakdowns, but on the other hand, it produces the likes of Gurmeet Ram Rahim. Today, religious censorship in the form of banishment is confined to eating beef for Hindus, eating pork for Muslims, eating garlic, onion, and flesh for Jains and clipping hair or smoking for Khalsa Panth but when it comes to things that matter most for a nation like India such as murder, rape, falsifying bank accounts, evading tax, people no more fear in religious censorship. Crimes are being committed and corruption is getting widespread because the violator’s conscience is undisturbed as he can easily square his cheating by performing rituals or bribing with offerings or by paying lip service to god, in the name of mercy.

Fragmented loyalty gave birth to nepotism; an individual is first loyal to its family, caste, religious and linguistic group and then only towards the nation as a whole. Similarly, taxes, which were designed to soak the rich converted the honest rich into bank account falsifies and forced him to keep wealth in terms of black money. On the other hand, a government official behaved pretty much rationally by extracting a bribe for each paper he signed.

Post-Independence, India decided to follow a planned economy controlled by the state. The state decided not only what should be produced, who should produce, for whom to produce and the price but also the amount of production. Licenses were given selectively and thus license Raj began. A mere piece of paper that costs almost nothing acquired immense value with a govt. seal and government official’s signature on it. It invited not only bribery to get a license but also brokers of licenses, and thus corrupt payment rose.

In 1991, the economic liberalization took away some major discretion of corruption by eradicating the rule of license raj but still many sectors remained unreformed. Business entrepreneurs still lacked the freedom to run business in the unreformed sectors, therefore, scams continued in the unimproved sectors like mining industry, land transaction and especially government purchases. The small businessmen without political connection were the most vulnerable affected lot by both the license raj and the lack of freedom to operate. Ironically, these dark lanes of unreformed sectors can be characterized by ‘freedom to do businesses’. It implied that individuals were at the mercy of neither politicians nor bureaucrats.However, liberalization was not an answer to corruption because one of the biggest scams, precisely 2G scam occurred in none other than the renowned telecommunication sector which portrayed a success story of the reform. No one calculated the artificially created scarcity in the 2G spectrum which was given away in driblets to those who bribed.  Had the licenses been granted in a transparent bidding, this scam could have been avoided.

As far as the bribery is concerned, there are two types of bribery – harassment oriented and collusive. In the collusive, both parties engage in a conspiracy like in the case of the 2G scam. And in case of harassment oriented bribery, the bribe giver is simply a victim; his files will not put for further communication unless he pays a bribe. It is the most common case of bribery; here, a bribe giver does not expect to get any unlawful favor; all he wants is to speed up the process.

To make a conclusion, rather than officials, if competition decides what is to be produced, who should produce, for whom to produce and at what rate, corruption will cut. In India, one of the root causes of corruption is state intervention so as far as government policies are concerned, if economists and policy-makers shift away from socialist policies towards the market, corruption will shrink. However, in a country like India where poverty pre-dominantly exists, the government has to take up some socialist policies otherwise the outcome will be worse. Considering this, identification of poor is the foremost job of a government to make sure that these policies are strictly for the poor and not universal. Cash transfer to poor not only stumps out the pressure on capacity but also grants more freedom of choice to the poor on what to buy and hence is a better way to deliver benefit. Thus the JAM trinity project, which refers to interlinking of mobile number with bank account and Aadhaar card can be said as a massive step in the right direction than holding the scarce resource of million tons of grains under the name of ‘food security’, part of which is either robbed, stolen, eaten by rats or simply rots.

The problem with Indian citizen is that every time something goes wrong, the citizens want the heads of those currently in power; without giving a thought on how to reduce ‘their’ discretion. Every time, there is some disturbance, the stock reaction is to get more laws and give ‘them’ more authority by reducing own freedom.

Mass media plays a dominating role in remolding public opinion but often, it defames public figures without proper verification and rebukes people they don’t like. Recently, political parties are being accused to bribe big media houses and therefore there is an urgent need to deal with corruption in mass media before it makes things worse. Exposure in mass-media can perhaps be the biggest disincentive to be corrupted, so media houses, especially big ones should try to be as much responsible as possible and stay away from loose talks and publications so that no one can dismiss them as unreliable.

Last, but not the least, we should use social media to share our daily life experiences with corruption and bribery. India will be a better place to live in if its citizens remember Vidur from Mahabharata who contemptibly mocked at the immortality of silence by quoting KashyapaRishi, said that, when a crime is committed, half of the punishment goes to those who remain silent.

Adhiraj Sengupta
Adhiraj Sengupta

Adhiraj Sengupta is currently pursuing M. A. in Economics from RabindraBharati University. He has an appetite for writing. He feels that writing is the best way to express oneself. Adhiraj loves to use examples from history and mythology in most of his works. The above article is his first published work.


Aparna Posted on5:08 am - Mar 23, 2018

it indeed is a daunting task to wipe out Corruption.

Rajat Posted on1:54 pm - Mar 23, 2018

Corruption is indeed the curse of a developing nation where everyone irrespective of being rich or poor are delured by it.

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