The Hindu : Opinion / Lead : A step away from corruption is anarchy

Mr Shanti Bhushan has raised the sceptre of corruption yet again in this article on The Hindu... to summarise, he is stating:

  1. Something drastic needs to be done, or the country will descend into ungovernable anarchy
  2. Corrupt Government bodies, police, adminstrative services et al
  3. The PM's honesty is of no use to us, if he does not attend to corruption within his own government
Yes, it is a fact that corruption is endemic in our society.... it is nearly impossible to get anything done without the attendant "lubrication', if you get my point. This is indeed sad; but what is even more dangerous to us as a nation and as a society is that very, very few people define the problem in its total 360-degree  perspective. The lack of acceptance that corruption extends beyond just the government; that corruption is endemic in every sphere of life and in our thoughts is dangerously absent from any discussion forum. Each discussion on this problem narrows down to the government, as though the government were an entity unto itself; that it exists in a veritable vacuum as it were. 

The fact of the matter is that the government is just the visible end of a large system, comprising its universe: the people of India. Unless you look at it in this perspective, unless you include the citizens of this country, no real progress can be made on this issue. The government is formed by the people; its constituent elements are drawn from within our society. Hence, rather than blame the government, it is high time that we started pointing fingers at ourselves. If corrpution is endemic within the government, it is because the people who comprise it are corrupt. And where do the people in the government come from? From among us, that's where. That being the case, who then is the real problem? The Government, or we the people? 

Corruption is not possible unless there are 2 parties to the suspect transation: one, a bribe giver - and the other, the bribe payer. Corruption arises when one person either approaches - or is approached by - the person in authority for easy money in order that a short cut to some issue may be found. Point to be noted: unless you have someone willing to pay a bribe, corruption is not possible. Corruption is not a reflection of the quality of governance; it is far more a reflection of the lack of moral standards in our society. The index of corruption is a mirror of our moral values; the increase in corruption a report on the fall in our moral standards. 

This is in reality an indictment of society - it is not, it cannot be an indictment of the standards of governance. If we had been a autarchy or a dictatorship, then we could have gotten away with blaming the government of the day, and lamenting our ill-luck in having such an ineffectual system. We, in India, pride ourselves in our democracy... remember, we elect the government. The buck stops with us, the blame has to be shared by us. We are the final arbiters of the government's status; we are the ones who have complete power over the fate of the people in power. Unfortunately, we do not understand, or realise, or accept, or indeed appreciate the value of this power. 

How to eradicate the problem? Frankly, I haven't the remotest idea. I do know one thing: the lokpal - even in the form advocated by the Janlokpal team - will only have a peripheral effect. At best, things will improve to some extent. But it will not eradicate corruption. It cannot do so; when prohibition was not able to prevent the inflow of alcohol, how do you seriously expect a lokpal body to solve corruption?

Do we need the lokpal? Yes, we do - it is absolutely vital. Can it solve the problem? No - at least, not on its own. It needs awareness in the people that giving a bribe is morally wrong; that it is not done! It needs a reluctance on the part of the people to participate in a suspect transaction; it needs a willingness on the part of the people to speak out; it needs a willingness to take to long route to success rather than short cuts. We need both, the lokpal and a cooperative citizenry! And that, my dear friends, is a very tall order indeed...  


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