Majority of us are aware of the term “corruption” as it is frequently used in daily parlance. What is corruption? Different pictures emerge in our mind. The most plausible reference to the nature of corruption could be assessed in the words of Joe Bidden, 47th Vice President of the United States of America, “Corruption is just another form of tyranny.” The statement weighs corruption as equivalent to that of cruel and oppressive rule of government. However, for a common man/woman, corruption is a challenge, that he/she faces every day for protecting his/her fundamental rights and other privileges provided to him as human beings guaranteed by the Constitution. Corruption in public life is a way to get selfish gains through illegal methods and by misuse of public posts and public property. Corruption for private firms/companies is all about making unfair profits by exploiting the employees and consumers by circumventing government laws. Corruption prevails in every sector and at every level in the country whether big or small. Corrupt means and unfair ways are used to accomplish several big and small tasks by people belonging to the government as well as private sectors. This is because people want to make big bucks without much hard work.
Though the ranking of India in Global Corruption Index 2018 has improved by three ranks at a global rank of 78 among other countries. India is still far from becoming a corruption free nation. Corruption in India was prevailing even during the reign of British Empire. Even Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the Muslim League leader, who conspired to divide India by creating Pakistan on August 14, 1947 acknowledged the rampant corruption during British rule in undivided India : “One of the biggest curses from which India is suffering—I do not say that other countries are free from it, but I think our condition is much worse—is bribery and corruption. Corruption is a poison”. Jinnah who colluded with the British to divide India if says so then it definitely indicates the deep-rooted institutional corruption in British India, firmly supported and practiced by the British authority to meet their selfish ends. Corruption is a poison which has sheltered in the minds of those who place themselves above society, community and even country to usurp ill-gotten advantages in life. It is the mistreatment of public resources just for getting some unfair advantages to fulfil the material desires. It is concerned with the unnecessary and wrong use of both power and position by anyone whether in the government or non-government organisations. It adversely affects the growth of the individual as well as the nation and reduces both personal and national income. It is a big reason for inequality that exists within the society we live in. It hampers the growth and development of a nation at all fronts socially, economically and politically.
A study conducted by Transparency International in 2005 recorded that more than 62% of Indians had at some point or another paid bribe to a public official to get the job done. In 2008, another report showed that about 50% of Indians had firsthand experience of paying bribes or using contacts to get services performed by public offices; however, in 2018 the CPI (Corruption Perception Index) ranked the country 78th place out of 180 countries, reflecting steady decline in perception of corruption among people. The government and the political parties in India are known for their corrupt ways. Instead of indulging in corrupt practices, they should rather work for overcoming the problem of corruption. They must set an example for the citizens and inspire them to work with honesty and dedication to reach their goals rather than use corrupt means. Anyone can stand for the elections and form a political party in India. The eligibility criterion does not include a person’s educational qualifications. There are Ministers who haven’t even attended a school and have negligible knowledge about the Indian political system. There are also those who have criminal records. When the country is being governed by such people, corruption is bound to happen. A minimum educational qualification criterion must be set for entering public life in politics. Only those candidates who meet the educational criteria and have a clean personal record must be allowed to contest the elections. The candidates who win the elections must then be trained to handle various duties and responsibilities assigned to them. An educated and well-trained person can certainly run the country better than others. There must be a set protocol for everything and the activities of the Ministers must be monitored by a higher authority to see if they are following it.
There are several reasons why corruption level is high in our country. The jobs in the market are less than the number of qualified youth. While many youth these days roam around without commensurate jobs, others take up jobs that are way below their qualification. The dissatisfaction amongst these individuals and their quest for earning more lead them to resort to corrupt means. People in our country get away with corrupt practices such as giving and taking bribes, not paying the income tax, following corrupt means to run businesses, etc. There is no strict law to monitor the activities of these people. Even if people get caught, they are not punished severely for the corrupt practices they have indulged in. This is the reason why corruption is quite high in the country.
A society filled with educated people is likely to face less corruption. When people are not educated, they use unfair and corrupt means to earn their livelihood. The vast majority still do not understand the importance of education and this leads to increase in corruption. Untamed greed and growing competition in the market are also the reasons for growing corruption. People these days have become extremely greedy. They want to earn more than their relatives and friends and in this mad rush they do not hesitate to employ corrupt means to realise their dreams. Everyone wants the country to be free of corruption and criticizes the government for not doing anything in this direction without pinning oneself for being the cause of it.
The causes of corruption are well known. It is said that once the cause of a problem is identified half the task is done. It is now time to look for solutions rather than discussing the problem over and over again. The government must free India of corruption as our country cannot progress if this problem persists. Corruption must be removed from its roots. For instance, lack of good employment opportunities that leads to corruption is also related to rising population of India. The government must take strict measures to control the population of the country. Likewise, it must work on every aspect to build a corruption free India. We can fight corruption if we stand united and are determined to drive this evil away. Lack of education is another reason for the growing corruption. Spreading education can help in curbing this problem to a large extent. The government must make policies to ensure that every child in the country goes to school and secures education. Strict laws must be made for people who indulge in corrupt practices such as taking and giving bribes, using illegal ways to expand their businesses, accumulating black money and other conveniences for which they have no means to acquire legally. These people must be punished severely. Media and government should join hands to conduct sting operations to uncover corrupt people in different sectors. Such sting operations will not only expose the corrupt people but will also discourage others to indulge in such practices. Each one of us must take it as a responsibility to follow the right course of getting things done rather than giving bribes to get them done or to escape from fines.
Technology can also help in bringing down corruption. CCTV cameras must be installed in government offices, at red lights and other places where the cases of taking and giving bribes are high. Recorders can be installed at places where it is difficult to install cameras. People can also take initiative to record any corrupt practice going around in their mobile and share the same with the nearest police station. People in India are scared of going to the police even for lodging a complaint against perpetrators of corruption. They avoid going to the police station as there is a fear that they might get caught up in the nitty-gritty’s of the police inquiry and it may bring bad name to them. The procedures at the police station must be such that those who wish to help the police must not face any inconvenience. Though, corruption is rampant in India, it is also true that by and large the common men and women of India are honest and have an evident dislike for corruption. Howsoever deep rooted corruption might be, it could be successfully eliminated with political will and public awareness. While individual efforts can work in the direction of freeing the country from corruption the government’s intervention is also necessary if the problem is to be removed from its roots. The Central Government must make strict laws to get rid of this problem. It is the joint effort of the individuals, media as well as the government that can help in building corruption free India. They must work hand in hand to make the country a better place to live.