Sunday, 1 June 2014

Corruption : Acceptable. The Right Path : No, No, No No...

A chance comment I heard  {never mind where}  drew my reaction -when someone obliquely referred to an anti-corruption crusading party as being "sanctimonious". The word sanctimonious means, as per google, "making a show of being morally superior to other people", while Merriam Webster website refers to it as hypocritically pious or devout. Let us get to the bottom of this meaning - hypocritical means "behaving in a way that suggests one has higher standards or more noble beliefs than is the case." as per google and "a person who claims or pretends to have certain beliefs about what is right but who behaves in a way that disagrees with those beliefs" as per Merriam Webster...

Let us forget the particular panel for a moment, as well as who specifically said it to whom. That is not important in the larger scheme of things. I will make no comment or reflection on the panel member, or why he said it. This is not a reflection on that person, he may have had his reasons. What is more pertinent is to whom this was stated. You have an anti-corruption campaigner, and the best you can refer to him is being sanctimonious? The participant was from the AAP. Regardless of the election performance, their manifesto, and their mistakes, the fact remains that AAP is a party that, as its core, is fighting against corruption. What does this speak of our own tolerance for, acceptance of corruption, and of our moral values?

The election results prove beyond even a shade of doubt  that corruption is not a platform on which parties can win elections. The electorate values being smart, having realpolitic, rhetoric and solid economic and national policies as more important. Let us tackle this first, in the interest of fairness. Yes, having solid policies, and a clear action plan as well as proven credentials is absolutely vital; we cannot afford to hand the nation over to unqualified people. The first week of the new Government has, to be fair, has given us plenty of reason to cheer – as I shall look at in my next post. That is unquestionable. That is also not the thrust I am making in this article. Let us get that impression out of the way.

I am specifically referrring to our general attitude towards anti-corruption campaigners, including AAP as observed in the news, on social media as well as Whatsapp messages, the ugly and insulting references to these people. It is fine if you don’t vote for them in a national election just yet – as I already observed above. While I may or may not agree with that, the precedence to policies is understandable and appreciable from the society, and augurs well for our democracy.  What is more important is our attitude towards these people, who are fighting this fight to make lives easier for all of us, and our condescension towards them and their efforts. It is certainly not fine if you don’t even appreciate these people who have set up a political party, taking on the big guns, and fighting a tranaparent fight based on principles.

This goes to the core of our values, and to the importance that we as a society place on due process, morality, values, integrity and honesty. It is also,sorry to say, a brutal indicator on our total ignorance. It is especially sad to see even the highly educated erudite and learned gentry make derogatory remarks, and ignore the core values being espoused by these people. These indicate that we, as a society, do not value the above attributes. Not only that, it is also a sad comment on our selfishness and ingnorance. Selfishness – because we refuse to do things the right but more difficult way, under the specious grouse of “the world works this way; and ignorance - because we are totally ignorant of the damage corruption causes the economy, and the drag it is on the GDP growth of our nation. We continue to pay bribes as a people, ignorant of the immense damage we are wrecking on our economy and our country – and call anti-corruption campaigners fools, or impractical, or theoretical, or worse. I know this to be a fact since I do not pay bribes – and have heard these words, and far far worse; still continue to do.

So long as we as a people continue to regard the anti-corruption campaigners as being sanctimonious, or putting on a farce, or being hypocritlcal, no progress is possible in the fight against corruption. It is high time that we, the people realized and accepted that it is not the anti-corruption campaigners who are being sanctimonious. It is we the people who are fault; it is we the people who are are ignorant; it is we the people who are willing participants in the looting of the corrupt; it is we the people who are selfish; and it is we, the people who are in dire need of a correction of our base value systems, or values and our entire attitude towards integrity, honesty and decency.

It may be hard to believe for many, but corruption does harm everyone. Our stunning ignorance of this matter, and of how corruption damages the nation is a cause of deep concern, as is our deep-seated cynicism of anti-corruption efforts. This is in dire need of correction, along with our now-defunct moral compass. We have seen in previous posts how corruption hits the common man in everything, including security and personal safety. We can see from S Hussain Zaidi’s investigation how corruption plays a role in crime and terrorism. Hypocrisy is not in fighting against corruption; it is in making fun of anti-corrption campaigners, and in paying bribes. And so long as we, the people, continue to be cynics or hypocrites, there can be no real success in the fight against corruption.

Jaago, Sonewaalon…

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