By Sania Siddiqui, Amity Law School, Jaipur.
“The fight for justice against corruption is never easy. It never has been and never will be. It exacts a toll on our self, our families, our friends, and especially our children. In the end, I believe, as in my case, the price we pay is well worth holding on to our dignity.”
Corruption is a disease, a cancer that eats into the cultural, political and economic fabric of society, and destroys the functioning of vital organs. In the words of Transparency International, “Corruption is one of the greatest challenges of the contemporary world. It undermines good government, fundamentally distorts public policy, leads to the misallocation of resources, harms the private sector and private sector development and particularly hurts the poor’. Corruption is found almost everywhere, but it is stubbornly entrenched in the poor countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, it is widespread in Latin America, it is deep rooted in many of the newly industrialized countries, and it is reaching alarming proportions in several of the post-communist countries.
Corruption in India is a major issue that adversely affects its economy. A study conducted by Transparency International in the year 2005 found that more than 62% of Indians had first hand experience of paying bribes or influence peddling to get jobs done in public offices successfully In its study conducted in the year 2008, Transparency International reports about 40% of Indians had first hand experience of paying bribes or using a contact to get a job done in public office.
In 2014 India ranked 85th out of 175 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, compared to its neighbors, Bhutan (30th), Bangladesh (145th), Myanmar (156th), China (100th), Nepal (126th), Pakistan (126th) and Sri Lanka (85th). In 2013, India was ranked 94th out of 175 countries
Political corruption means the abuse of political power by the government leaders to extract and accumulate for private enrichment, and to use politically corrupt means to maintain their hold on power. However, abuse of political power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality, is not considered political corruption. Political corruption takes place at the highest levels of the political system, and hence it can be differentiated from administrative or bureaucratic corruption. It can also be distinguished from business and private sector corruption.
Corruption in the Indian society has prevailed from time immemorial in one form or the other. The basic inception of corruption started with our opportunistic leaders who have already done greater damage to our nation. People who work on right principles are unrecognized and considered to be foolish in the modern society. Corruption in India is a result of the connection between bureaucrats, politicians and criminals. Earlier, bribes were paid for getting wrong things done, but now bribe is paid for getting the right things done at the right time. Further, corruption has become something respectable in India, because respectable people are involved in it. [i]
Social corruption like less weighing of products, adulteration in edible items, and bribery of various kinds have incessantly prevailed in the society.
In today’s scenario, if a person wants a government job he has to pay lakhs of rupees to the higher officials irrespective of satisfying all the eligibility criteria. In every office one has either to give money to the employee concerned or arrange for some sources to get work done. There is adulteration and duplicate weighing of products in food and civil supplies department by unscrupulous workers who cheat the 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 according to the Government rules and regulations.
Political corruption is worse in India. The major cause of concern is that corruption is weakening the political body and damaging the supreme importance of the law governing the society. Nowadays politics is only for criminals and criminals are meant to be in politics. Elections in many parts of the country have become associated with a host of criminal activities. Threatening voters vote for a particular candidate or physically prevent voters from going into the polling booth – especially weaker sections of the society like tribes, Dalits and rural woman occurs frequently in several parts of the country. Recently, the Government increased the salary of the M.P.’s from Rs.16, 000 to Rs.50, 000, that is a 300 % increase to the existing salary. But many of them are unhappy with rise and want the Government to increase the salary to a much more extensive. This clearly shows how the politicians are in constant thirst for monetary benefits and not caring about the welfare of the people. Tax evasion is one of the most popular forms of corruption. It is mostly practiced by Government officials and politicians who lead to the accumulation of black money, which in turn spoils the moral of the people.
Political corruption can be of two forms. The first one is which includes both accumulation and extraction and where government officials use and abuse their hold on power to extract from the private sector, from government revenues, and from the economy at large. Some of the examples of the above mentioned form of corruption are extracted, embezzlement, rent-seeking, plunder and even kleptocracy (“rule by thieves”).
The second form of political corruption is one in which extracted resources (and public money) are used for power preservation and power extension purposes. This usually takes the form of favoritism and patronage politics. It includes a favoritism and politically motivated distribution of financial and material inducements, benefits, advantages, and spoils.
The major causes behind the emergence of corrupt politicians in any democracy are adverse government structures, concentration of powers in the hands of the decision makers who are practically not accountable to the people, lack of transparency in decision making, contempt for freedom of speech, lack of timely financial management, weak legal profession and most importantly imperfect electoral processes in India, these conditions are further aggravated by illiterate, apathetic and ignorant populace and communication gap resulting due to the one way flow of information for politicians to public via bureaucrats and not the other way round. Another very important factor is that our country does not possess even the rudiments of a regulated system of campaign financing. Most party funds, including campaign finances, therefore have to be secured through non-transparent channels, in so called ‘black’ money, from friendly corporate interests to though kickbacks secured on defense deals.
Corruption can be need-based or greed-based. Better governance can at least help to check need-based corruption. Better governance can check greed based corruption also because punishment for the corrupt will be very effective and prompt in a better-governed country.
The steps should be taken to correct the situation overall. Declarations of property and assets of the government employees are made compulsory and routine and surprise inspections and raids be conducted at certain intervals. Though it’s very difficult to control corruption, but it is not impossible. It is not only the responsibility of the government, but ours too. We can eliminate corruption if there will be a joint effort. We must have some higher principles to follow so that we may be models for the coming generation. Let us take a view to create an atmosphere free from corruption. That will be our highest achievement as human beings.