Corruption in Public Life

Corruption in Public Life


By Sumit Singh

Corruption is a form of behavior which departs from ethics, morality, tradition, and law. Corruption is being perceived differently from country to country, it tends to include the some behavior; Conflict of interest, fraud, bribery, political corruption and extortion. The subject of corruption is closely linked to the concept of integrity; it is relative in nature rather than absolute. All over the world unanimous in saying that there cannot be a truly valid concept of absolute integrity, and hence, a totally corruption free society.

Levels of Corruption in developed countries and in India
The people in the developed countries are less corrupt because these countries have, in general better economic, social and educational conditions. These countries also have widespread prosperity and the prevalence of viable minimum standard of living. Therefore, in these countries institutions in political, administrative, legal and other spheres are more credible and effective. Also incentives for corruption in these countries are very limited. As a result, corruption, through it undoubtedly exists, is not a national malady (Problem) as it is in India.
India is rated as one of the most corrupt countries in the world and has dropped in transparency international’s ratings from 66 in 1998 to 71 in 2002.such is the pervasiveness of corruption, that all departments of public life, right from the schools to playground have been tainted by corruption today.
The former Prime Minister Mr. Rajiv Gandhi stated that out of every rupee allotted for the development activities only fifteen paise actually reach the target.
Kautilya visualized various forms of corruptions in public service. He writes “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”. Independent India inherited two legacies from its past; a clean politics from Mahatma Gandhi and an honest public administration the Indian National Congress which then was but a euphemism for a more or less exclusive club of western educated Indians and converted it into mass ruralised political party founded on a solid rock of ethical and spiritual values. He made politics a saintly profession of sacrifice and suffering and as a result the politician who emerged was of the weberian ‘ideal type’ actuated by nothing short of the highest moral, unselfish standards.
The public administration which the British took over from their predecessors was notoriously corrupt, inefficient and cussed. The credit for this rightly goes to Governor General like Warren Hastings and Lord Cornwallis. This does not imply total absence of black spots in public administration and black sheep in the Civil service. Enclaves of corruption existed in the lower levels of the police, judiciary, excise, irrigation etc… what can be boldly asserted is that the officer class was like ‘Caesar’s Wife’ above suspicion and the highest level of integrity was maintained.
The Second World War time (1939-45) scarcities, controls, rationing, numerous war related civil works and supply contracts sowed the seed of corruption in the concerned departments. When these transactions increased in number and in monetary terms involving crore of rupees, the corruption level also went upward bringing higher officers within its clutches. Soon after independence power started corrupting some elected leaders as well.
If we talk about the consequences of the corruption then corruption reduces the effectiveness of aid flow through the diversion of funds. Aid, being fungible, helps support unproductive and wasteful government expenditure. Where corruption proves more lucrative than productive work, there is every chance that talent will be misallocated. Corruption also reduces the legitimacy of government in the eyes of people.
Where corrupt individuals are few, it’s a personality problem. That can be contained by correcting individuals. On the other hand, where corruption is all pervasive, as it is at present, it is more important to reforms the system itself rather than punishing individuals. Why is everyone corrupt? Because a want may be assumed to be need plus greed, In India officials justify to themselves corrupting behavior by treating it as moral necessity to take care of family obligation. Such needs justify corruption, greed’s takes over. Then, want becomes the driving force behind corrupt practices, a force unimpeded by any qualm of conscience. Corruption is like mushrooms, it grows in the darkness, so where secrecy is sacrosanct and there is no inspection, corruption grows unchecked and where there is transparency, corruption cannot take root. Exercise of discretionary powers by political and permanent executives also promotes greater darkness in Government functioning.
There are basically two kinds of actors, one which are involved in corruption-bureaucrats and politicians. It is a cardinal rule that while bureaucrats can be corrupt independently, politicians can be corrupt only in collusion with conniving officials. So, if only bureaucrats can be made honest, political corruption will automatically come under contract. It must also be noted that it is more difficult to tackle politicians. The level of corruption depends on values and morals of a society. In any society, it is but natural that about 10% of the population is always honest by nature and about 10% of the population always dishonest. The idea is to design a system that checks the corrupt tendencies of the remaining 90%. Politics has become a breeding ground of corruption in modern time. Use of muscle power and black money during elections has become a common parlance.
To tackle with this big problem of corruption at the Central level, government constituted special police establishment in 1943 and this organization was replaced by the Delhi special police establishment in 1946. Presently this organization is a part of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Government enacted prevention of corruption Act, 1947. This Act was replaced by Prevention Corruption Act, 1988. This Act applied to the whole of India and contains provisions for more effective prevention of bribery and corruption.
In every society there is a limited room for sinners. Corruption can be minimized and checked but not eradicated altogether and hence it is futile taking a purist view. It has to be accepted that entire masses of people cannot be turned into saints. There has been corruption in all societies in all history, and it has taken various forms. How to keep it to the bare minimum level is what ought to concern us, and in that view of the matter, every step in that direction promises a reduction in the level of corruption should be welcomed care would still need to be taken that the remedy advocates is not eventually worse than the disease…