Unending Saga of Corruption in India: Civil Services Mentor Magazine September 2012

Unending Saga of Corruption in India

One would say the corruption in India has an ancient linkage,
and it is deeply rooted in our tradition. The author of the Arthasastra made
some remarks on government officials of his time which are relevant even today:
“Just as it is impossible not to taste the honey or the poison that finds itself
at the tip of the tongue, so it is impossible for a government servant not to
eat up at least a bit of the king’s revenue. These in the post-war world became
only bolder while eating up government money and accepting bribes. A corrupt
person is termed immoral, dishonest and unscrupulous in his dealings. His
disregard for honesty, righteousness and truth results in his alienation from
society. He is treated with contempt. But as erosion of values leads to
decadence, remedies for the social malaise remain elusive, and so no amount of
contempt can eradicate corruption which is a symptom of decadence. When we ask a
question to ourselves that why India is still not a developed nation even after
60 years of independence? Why there is not enough development when India is
having immense potential and talent at par with any developed nation has? The
answer is very simple. The main culprit behind this situation is widespread
corruption in every field. To get an admission in a college…to get a legal paper
from a Government office…to get an approval for the construction of a house…to
get an electricity connection…to do an urgent surgery for life saving……. Thus
not even nook and corner of the daily life is spared from this evil. Now, people
so adapted and well familiar with the situation and ready to give bribe without
any hesitation and accepted as a part of the system. They also will demand bribe
when they are sitting in a decisive position. This is the epicenter of this
deadly evil which spread over the entire system from executive to class IV
level. The only motive to become a people’s representative, a civil servant or
even an attender is how to get the undeserved money.

The more dangerous fact…bribes and corruption got reputation
in society. If there is an official who doesn’t accepts bribe…he will be
isolated even in public and will have an image of useless person.In today’s
India these officials representing all government departments are very close to
the most corrupt businessmen who are too unscrupulous to let any opportunity of
amassing profits slip. This collusion broadens the base of the vicious circle
and corruption spreads ‘like wild fire to engulf the entire society. The
political and social guardians depend only too much on the richer communities
and they look indulgently on while these communities hold the entire society and
the government to ransom. Corruption starts at the top and percolates down to
the whole society. Such corruption cannot be confined to the towns alone. It is
as widespread in the villages where the dishonest officials and the traders
carry the germs of the disease. Economic need and exposure to western luxuries
are tempting factors in society for the youth. They try to find means and ways
to make money, however deceptive or defective these methods may be. It is
meaningless to blame the system; it is the defect of people who handle the same.
A number of reasons like lack of stringent legislation, slow and delayed
judicial systems, poverty, illiteracy, lack of faith in “Dharma” or
righteousness, greedy mind and a tendency to be smart are responsible behind
corruption. It is not prevalent in India only but Corruption is today a
world-wide phenomenon.

Let us diagnose what are the reasons that the venom of corruption is running
so deep in our veins?

(1) Democracy: First of all roots of corruption are
buried in our democratic setup. To contest election lot of money is required and
due to this ordinary people can’t contest election and those who stand in
elections either have ancestral money or have earned this money through corrupt
practices. Mayawati who was a poor school teacher few years ago has now a
property of 52 crore ‘, Prakash singh badal the former chief minister of Punjab
has a property worth 1000 crore ‘, Mulayam singh Yadav has a property of
billions of ‘. These are just few examples to quote, but the ground reality is
that 300 M.P’s in 15th Loksabha are multi millionaires. What do you think these
people are pouring their money for charity? Certainly not, for them this is an
investment for which they will get rich dividend. This dividend is in the form
of amount earned through manipulation of govt. Funds, taking bribe, settling
their keens on good positions, allotting government contracts to fraud and
unqualified companies, take money for appointing officers on various posts.

(2) Bourgeoisie Society: System always stems from top
to bottom. There is a proverb in Sanskrit” which means like king like people. In
Bhagwad Gita also it is said by lord Krishna which means behavior of elite class
people is considered as standard by lower class people and hence they follow it
as ideal behavior. Today’s kings are our honorable M.P’s, M.L.A’s. and most of
them are corrupt and shares criminal background (according to a survey of an
independent NGO, 150 MP’s in 15th Loksabha have criminal records). Not only
politicians but bureaucrats, commanders of armed forces and judges too are
submerged in the mud of corruption. One retired Chief Justice of India had said
that 20% judges of Supreme Court are corrupt and corruption is more ubiquitous
in lower rungs of judiciary. Indian Army which was considered to be the holy cow
of Indian democracy is also not spared from this. In such situation people feel
that it is justifiable for them to indulge in corruption because if those who
are on the top of hierarchy don’t think about ethics than whom are we to care
for ethics?

(3) Corruption is an environmental phenomenon: A new
born baby does not have notions of right and wrong but as it grows older
gradually it learns what is socially acceptable and what is not. This social
learning plays very important role in growth of civic sense. Have you ever
wondered why is it that the person who breaks traffic rules in India, when goes
to Singapore behaves very decently? No, it’s not just the fear of fine that is
restraining him but actually in India most of the people breaks the traffic laws
and therefore no one is ashamed of it because everybody else is doing the same,
where as in Singapore everyone follows the public etiquette and the law of land
and hence no one dares to go against established norms of social behavior. In
the countries like Denmark and Netherlands (which are least corrupt countries)
corruption is considered as social evil and those who are involved in corruption
have to face a kind of social boycott, hence very few people dare to indulge in
corrupt practices. Unfortunately in India publicly we criticize politicians,
bureaucrats and corporate for their corruption but privately people admire those
who have earned money through illegal means. In such conditions corruption is
bound to increase in society and as I said earlier corrupt people come from
within the society. To quote one senior judge of Supreme Court “judges too stay
in society and share same social and moral values which other people share and
if corruption is there in the society than it is going to be reflected in
judiciary also, since we have not came from the heaven”.

(4) Impotent and infertile  laws: There are many laws to
curtail corruption but unfortunately they are teeth less. They have so many loop
holes that corrupt people easily escape from it and even if some of them are
punished it take years to culminate the judicial process. If any politician or
an officer of central government is found to be indulged in to corruption then
complaint cannot be filed against them without the permission of central
government. Central Vigilance Commission who is an independent agency to look
after the cases of corruption in the central government employees can only give
recommendation to concerned department regarding action to be taken on their
officer, but its recommendation are not binding. Institutions like CBI, Anti
Corruption Bureau, Enforcement Directorate, Income Tax department and various
other agencies are there to prevent corruption and financial irregularities, but
there is lot of political interference in these agencies. Appointment, transfers
and promotion of officers of these agencies is in the hands of politicians. CBI
has become an agent of ruling party; it is used frequently to settle the score
with opposition. In the past many instances have taken place when CBI has filled
or withdrawn cases on people at the will of central government (remember
Quatrochchi, Mulayam Singh and Mayawati case). Recent appointment of P.J Thomas
as CVC is a vivid example of growing political interference in constitutional
appointments. Thomas is accused of palm oil corruption case when he was chief
secretary of Kerala and such person is appointed as CVC of India, whereas
according to rules the person against whom FIR is filled is not even eligible
for promotion.

It is shameful that the officials meant for administering
public welfare themselves provide enough scope to the offenders to commit the
offence and go scot-free, for equal compensation that they get from the
offenders. Here, if the statute provides severe punishment (more than the one
provided to the offender) to the erring official, perhaps, corruption could be
minimised.Society itself has had a drastic change in its behaviour today, to
what it was earlier. The need to be morally upright is irrelevant, under the
speed of its activity.

Let us glance through some statistics of corruption so that
you understand the intensity and range of corruption in India. Media has
provided lot of news and statistics about all the scams mentioned below so I
will not elaborate it much.

  • 2G Spectrum scam – 1,76,465 crore
  • Common Wealth Games- 70,000 crore
  • Madhu koda’s scam- 8000 crore ‘
  • Abdul karim Telgi fake stamp paper scam- 32000 crore
  • Scorpion submarine scam-18,000 crore ‘ (Accused former naval chief
    Admiral Sushil kumar)
  • Sukhna land scam and Adarsh land scam- involves Armed
    forces land worth thousands of crore ‘ And also involves top Army commanders
    like General Deepak Kapoor, Lt. General P.K Rath, Lt. General Shantanu
    Chaudhri, Lt. General Avdhesh Prakash and As many others.


Corruption cannot be abolished overnight, first, political
parties should take the responsibility and highly principled & determined
personalities have to lead the executive. With persistent efforts, the mindset
of the public has to change. Can’t say how much time it will take… this evil
spread over and established by taking 50 years…any way let us transfer the hope
and luck to next generation. There are many legal as well as illegal means and
methods with which one can come out unscathed after committing any offence. It
requires only a management skill to convince the right forums. Therefore, if
society has to be cleansed from being immorality and illegal doings, just
legislation, however stringent will not help. The resistance to commit offences
should be developed from one’s conscience or heart and it can never be created
fully by legislation. Hence, inculcating moral values in people right from
infancy could provide the remedy over a period of time. If the economic levels
of the society could be improved, so that luxuries become basics and the value
for them also become affordable, corruption would be unnecessary.

Aradhana Singh


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