Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Corruption - The Vicious Cycle

[Disclaimer: The views which I have expressed in this article are not supporting/against any political party or not even against any specific class of public. The views are entirely focused on the system of corruption rather than any person or group of persons. My view towards public, government and political parties is completely neutral]

The word “Corruption” is derived from the word ‘Corrupt’ (Latin corruptus) which means completely broken. We can now realize what may be the literal meaning of the word which has actually ‘completely broken’ the Administrative System of our country. Not only administrative, but it has broken almost all systems of the country.

In philosophical or theological or moral discussions, corruption is spiritual or moral impurity or deviation from an ideal. (Source: Wikipedia). Truly, corruption is deviation from an ideal – ideal procedure, ideal legal compliance, ideal working, ideal results, etc. Any reward or any benefit that is offered of given to change the situation from an ‘ideal’ situation to benefit the person doing so is called corruption. This was something about the meaning and definition.

Almost every day, we get new information on any scam, new protest against corruption, new demands for enactments against corruption. After some days, we shall be used to it a routine matter of our life. But do we really think who is responsible for this corruption – the Government Officials, Members of Parliaments / Legislative Authorities, Business Houses or Public? Usually if you ask that who is responsible for corruption, you will get answers like Government Officials or Ministers or Political Parties. But has anybody realized that not just these people but the public itself is also responsible for corruption. To be more specific, we ourselves are responsible for corruption. Both the parties who pay bribe and who accept bribe are responsible.

The Practical Scenario:

On a fine morning, you get ready for going out. You take your vehicle and as you are in a hurry either you take a no entry or you break a traffic signal. Here the law has been broken for your own advantage. (Advantage is that you have to ‘save’ your time to reach early at your destination.) What happens next is that you are caught by the traffic cop for breaking the law. He charges you Rs. 300 as fine. Here, you only offer him Rs. 100 to avoid the ‘extra financial loss’ of Rs. 200. Now who is responsible for corruption? You or the traffic cop or both? But we blame just the person who is accepting the bribe, whereas we ourselves are equally responsible.

This is just one situation of our life where we ourselves offer bribes so that we avoid the penal consequences. There are many more consequences. Right from an individual to a big business house who are responsible to initiate corruption. A businessman wants to earn ‘tax-free’ money (i.e. the black money) for which, when situation arises, he is ready to ‘share’ the benefit earned from black-money with the tax officials. Big business houses are ready to pay huge sums of money to ministers or government officials to get their proposals of new units approved without much hassles. This was the aspect where the corruption is initiated from the public side.

There also exist cases of corruption, where the public has to pay bribe for reasons out of their control. Many government officials demand for bribe despite of all the required legal compliance is valid. This happens in various government departments. It happens even in case of police departments in cases where the robbers are arrested and the victims claim their belongings back from the department. There is a very practical case know to all of us. Even the postman asks for some money when he delivers you the passport. If you don’t pay him, he’ll demand you various documents and in case of non-availability of some of any of them, he’ll threaten you for returning the passport. And so as to avoid further consequences, you get ready to pay him.

What is the vicious cycle of corruption?

As discussed everybody does corruption for some or the other reason – either to benefit himself or for situations out of his own control. Now, I’ll show you the vicious cycle of corruption.

  • A common person / businessman pays bribe to government officials for his own benefit.
  • The government official, who was once a candidate for the post, has paid a huge amount as bribe to the head of that department for his appointment for the post. So he is trying to recover the amount from public / businessmen.
  • The respective head of the department has already paid a huge amount (more than his junior has paid to him) to some state or central minister. So he is trying to recover it from his juniors.
  • The respective minister has incurred huge expenditure in contesting elections and winning them. The so called huge expenditure also includes amounts and ‘benefits’ paid to common people to cast vote in their favor.

This is the vicious circle of corruption. We can put the blame just on the ministers or the government. We should realize that we all are equally responsible for it.

What is the Solution?

As I have already discussed that there are two situations for corruption – one that we ourselves create to avoid law and consequences and the other that we are forced to. We on our individual basis can totally avoid the former situation that we ourselves have created. This can be done by proper legal compliance on our part irrespective of the financial outflow is required on legal part. However, the later one cannot be controlled by any single individual. For the later one, there is a requirement of mass response. But one thing is for sure, unless we prevent the former situation, we won’t be ‘eligible’ for the later one. So to curb the corruption, the action should begin at your own rather than just blaming the system.

CA. Amol Gopal Kabra

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