Political Corruption

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In the present day and age, corruption has ceased to shock people. Even when Ministers and Bureaucrats are detected engaging in malpractices, they go scot- free due to the reach of their offices and influence they exercise. If anything is done at all, they are given transfers which offer no solution to the problem at all. As long as corruption fails to be legally, morally and socially censured, there exists no hope eradicating it from our nation or even reducing its grip on it. Realistically speaking, it may be impossible to extirpate corruption from the system however, it ought to be curbed and kept in check, at least moderately. To truly answer the question whether it is possible to contain corruption in our Indian society, it is necessary to understand that although many of the leaders come into power upon making determined promises to eradicate corruption from India, they themselves end up succumbing to the system and become thoroughly corrupt in order to amass immense wealth. For instance, when the Communist government came to power in West Bengal in 1977, it promised to rid the State of corruption in a matter of few years. But most of the leaders were accused of corruption, so much so that, one politburo member, who at one time served as the Chief Minister of Tripura, was expelled from the party in the middle of April in 1995 just because he had accused a highly placed politician in the party of nepotism and being personally corrupt. When Rajiv Gandhi was elected to the Prime Minister’s Office in 1984, he too declared war on corruption but soon he himself was victimized due to the Bofors payoff scandal. Thus, corruption has become institutionalized in the present day. The following existing myths regarding corruption must be expelled to effectively combat corruption:
  1. Corruption has become a way of life and nothing can be done to eradicate it[1];
  2. Post- independence, an abundance of freedom and license bestowed on the people of the democracy caused corruption to gain momentum[2];or that
  3. Poor people of underdeveloped countries are easy targets of temptation due to their dishonesty while citizens of developed countries are more morally upright[3]; or that
  4. Corruption is rampant only at the subordinate levels of offices[4]; or that
  5. Illiterate people are more corrupt than the educated people[5]; or that
  6. Politicians are mainly responsible for the spread of corruption[6].
All these fallacies have to be guarded against while planning measures to contain corruption. To reduce corruption at all levels, the following might be considered as necessary measures and methods: 1. Law, procedure and administration have to be adequately focused upon. The organizations and behavior of certain rank holders in specific situations are to be governed by specific laws and rules. Outdated and dysfunctional laws have to be repealed or amended. Laws or rules or regulations which are too harsh or complex lead to corruption. Also, laws should not be too relaxed either as they leave too much Continued to Page 2 ……Continued from Page 1 scope for discretion. The level of discretionary powers bestowed on an officer must be commensurate with his status and the role in the office. ‘Administrative’ factors leading to corruption include both structural and functional aspects. The structure of an organization determines its lacunae for corruption while ‘functioning’ refers to the process in which the organization works meaning both the quantity and quality of work, supervision, magnitude of lapses permitted, and so on. 2. Artificial shortages and scarcities facilitating illegal gratification have to be curbed. 3. Vigilance must be increased as vigilance does not hamper efficiency but improves it. Officials of doubtful integrity should be kept away from sensitive posts. And, surprise checks must be carried out at vulnerable points of corruption. 4. Liberalization policy must be very cautiously introduced. Although liberalization and free market may eventually reduce corruption but at present ‘liberal sanctions’ are generally being granted in return for ‘considerations’. Capitalist nations like the United States of America, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia are exceedingly corrupt societies. Corruption scandals are forever being exposed in Japan which point to the institutionalization of hypocrisy and dishonesty. 5. Election expenses have to be strictly monitored and controlled, and 6. The general mass has to cooperate in full measure in order to successfully combat corruption. Cases of police because they are afraid (that the corrupt and influential might harm them), indifferent (that they are not duty bound to report cases of corruption) and pessimists (that no action will be taken against the corrupt people). Yet, there are instances where people have tried to bring about a change by bringing the cases of corruption to the notice of concerned authorities. These people have an innate sense of opposition towards any wrongdoing and derive satisfaction from doing any kind of service to the community. Corruption can be vanquished only by the collective efforts of the people. By making sure that the dishonest politicians are not elected to the legislatures, half the battle is won. In a modern democracy like India, people need to realize their true role in combating corruption. In fact, the complete lack of public initiative against it and people’s tolerance of the same encourage corruption to continue to exist. Failure of the intellectual, educated, well- informed and articulate citizens to properly channelize their resentment of corruption into strong public opinion against it (it is only recently that they are voicing their opinions through the Civil Society’s Movement Against Corruption- CMAC), has caused corruption to become accepted as a deep- rooted customary evil. The CMAC, in fact, is making a serious dent in the corruption level. However, this needs to be supported by increasing number of people as then only, will it successfully bring about permanent changes in the country. Even Indian university youths can take up such society- oriented initiatives and organize movements for controlling the evil.[7] Another effective measure for containing corruption could be the introduction of a method which will enable political parties to secure electoral funds in a bona fide manner, or the central government can Continued to Page 3 …..Continued from Page 2 finance elections through the creation of an election fund. This system is in function in Germany, Sweden and Norway and some other advanced European countries. The political parties may obtain funds from the state according to the votes polled by them in the previous general elections. The money may be fixed per vote, for instance, two or three rupees per vote and so on. The concept of State funding of elections has been discussed in the Indian Parliament, in recent years, more than once. However, not only the previous governments but also the present United Progressive Alliance government has found it extremely problematic to implement the same. State funding of elections will not only eliminate donations from corrupt businessmen and interest groups but will also ensure free and fair elections by drawing men of integrity in assemblies, equalizing the amount of money spent by various political parties, and so on. Along with this measure, appointing Lok Pals to investigate the charges of corruption at the highest echelons of power and could effectively control corruption. Although, Lok Ayuktas in eleven states have been tendered impotent due to numerous disabilities, learning from their experiences, the powers of the Lok Pal should be widened and his recommendations ought to have a statutory force. These have to be brought up in the Parliament and given due publicity in the media. The Lok Pal could comprise a single retired judge of the Supreme Court or a division bench or three judges. The judge(s) should not be selected by the executive but by a four member committee consisting of the Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India, Speaker of the Lok Sabha and the Leader of the Opposition. The Lok Pal must be equipped with independent investigative machinery at his disposal. The Jan Lokpal Bill, also known as the citizens' ombudsman bill, aims to effectively deter corruption, redress grievances of citizens, and protect whistle-blowers. If made into law, the bill would create an independent ombudsman body called the Lokpal (Sanskrit: protector of the people). It would be empowered to register and investigate complaints of corruption against politicians and bureaucrats without prior government approval. Corruption is a cancer which every Indian needs to strive to obliterate. The four most important prescriptions for corruption are: 1. Honest and dedicated persons being elected to power and assuming public offices, 2. Reduced government control in the economy, also known as, liberalization policy, 3. Control over electoral expenditures, 4. Passing and proper implementation of the Jan Lokpal Bill. The citizens of India have had to tolerate the curse of corruption for a long time. It is now time to join hands with and engage the youth of India and harness their power of influence and vigour to rid our beautiful nation of this ugly plague of corruption. End of Document Signature: (Oindree Priyadarshini Mukherjee)
[1] Ahuja, Ram, ‘Social Problems in India’ 2nd revised Edn., Rawat Publications, 2003, p. 449; http://www.legalservicesindia.com/article/article/is-poverty-a-cause-of-corruption-1613-1.html, visited on 04-04-2014. [2] Ibid. [3] Ibid. [4] Ibid. [5] Ibid. [6] Ibid. [7] Ahuja, Ram, ‘Social Problems in India’ 2nd revised Edn., Rawat Publications, 2003, p. 449; http://www.legalservicesindia.com/article/article/is-poverty-a-cause-of-corruption-1613-1.html, visited on 04-04-2014.
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