Corruption is the result of the greed of power and money-hungry individuals combined, in part, with people who are compelled to choose such means to fend for themselves in this dog-eat-dog world. The problem of corruption has clutched at the roots of Indian society so strongly, that it seems to have become a part of our traditions and culture.
Indian economy and polity are often seen as the best examples of a corrupt society. Even so, this isn’t entirely true. While milder forms of corruption did exist even in ancient India, the primary focus was always on honesty and transparency in all transactions of the state and its ruler. Treatises like the “Arthashastra” are testimony to our high ideals of the state and the virtues indispensable to good citizens of the state.
However, the development of power politics along with an intricate nexus of politicians, bureaucrats and citizens out to make easy money, has led to excessive corruption in India. According to the Corruption Perception Index of 2018 published by Transparency International, India ranked at an average rank of 78 among 180 countries.
It is deeply saddening to see the once-revered birthplace of several monks and Prophets of various religions and movements has deteriorated to become the land of money-hungry, heartless and traitorous citizens who see no greater good than their personal gains.
Causes of Corruption
There are not one but ample causes of corruption-
- Greed of Individuals – Individuals only care about selfish motives and try to find ways, be it through bribes or embezzlement of public money or blackmail, to earn over and above their fixed remuneration amount.
- Poverty – The vicious cycle of poverty which leads to lack of education and skills thereby hindering job opportunities, compels individuals to find alternative means to earn their livelihood. Each parent aspires to provide the best form of life to their child and this aspiration urges them to increase their income through unfair means.
- Corrupt leaders – The politicians and democratically elected leaders who are entrusted with the job of leading the country to development, instead look for ways to develop their own wealth and income. They set a bad example and use their position of power and responsibility only for personal gains.
- Lack of proper vigilance – Though stringent measures are in the talks, they have not come into action as such. The traditional methods are still in use which prove futile when trying to round-up big time offenders.
- Deteriorating moral values – There was a time when someone indulging in such malpractices was shamed and ostracised. But nowadays, it has become common for people to do such acts and people respect such criminals as well. The people with power and money, not morals, are worshipped in our society.
- Degradation of Bureaucracy – This was meant to be an organisation of skilled and efficient individuals, who would run the functioning of the state systematically. But, with such power, bureaucrats have come to believe that the citizens are at their mercy and leave no chance to bamboozle vulnerable citizens.
Problems due to Corruption in India
Corruption has been gnawing at the very root of the Indian economic and social structure. Not only has it impeded the economic progress of the nation, it has also made people believe that embezzlement, bribery and illegal activities are the norm. Such has come to be the condition of this country that the common man cannot get any governmental assistance without greasing palms.
Apart from becoming a trend, corruption has also increased the economic gap. The rich are becoming richer while the poor can only become poorer because what is rightfully theirs is also being pilfered by the rich. A very common example is the Public Distribution System.
The shops under this system are given nominally-priced goods that are to be sold specifically to the poor, identified by their Ration Cards. But it is common practice for those, significantly well-off to get their ration cards made and buy cheap goods from these stores.
The shopkeepers are also no less and many-a-times, sell only a small portion of the total goods to the poor. The rest are redirected to the main market from where the shopkeepers can earn good profits.
In addition, the development of small firms and businesses in blocked because of the excessive money they have to pay in various government offices to get licenses and permissions. This discourages small-scale business owners and manufacturers. The economy suffers greatly due to this.
The taxpayers’ money is wasted. Instead of giving some tangible results in terms of better roads and education facilities, the tax money finds its way into the pockets of officials who are not entitled to it. It is a serious loss for the entire country. Not only within, but the money “stolen” from people and government accounts is transferred to offshore banks along with the Swiss Bank.
The Swiss Bank has been the storehouse of millions and billions of worth of various currencies for many years. The primary reason behind this is the confidentiality maintained by it under circumstances where Indian banks would otherwise have to reveal the client’s identity.
Such a tradition has been going on for so many generations in this country now that people have almost given up on the idea of ever receiving justice. From a nurse in an under-paying hospital to a middleman in the RTO, everyone tries to find some shortcuts to gain a little extra and the people have stopped approaching the authorities. Up until 2013, there was hardly any method of complaining against such wrongdoers.
The Lokpal Bill, along the lines of the Ombudsman in Sweden, has been a bone of contention in our country. There has been a long-ensuing battle between the government and activists such as Anna Hazare which finally led to the passing of this Bill with proper amendments in 2013.
Measures against Corruption in India
Central Vigilance Commission: This was set up in 1964 by the Government on the recommendations of the Santhanam Committee. Its job is to advise and guide the central government in the matters of vigilance. It consists of a Central Vigilance Commissioner and two other members. Before the Lokpal was appointed, this was the sole anti-corruption body in our country.
Lokpal and Lokayukta: The Lokpal Bill or Jan Lokpal Bill was passed by both the Houses of the Parliament in 2013. However, the first Lokpal has only been appointed in 2019. The first Lokpal of India is Pinaki Chandra Ghose.
The delay of six years was due to the lack of a leader of opposition in the parliament. The Lokpal is appointed by a committee consisting of the Prime Minister, the Speaker of Lok Sabha, the Chief Justice of Supreme Court, Leader of Opposition and an eminent jurist nominated by the President.
The Lokpal at the centre and Lokayukta at the state level have the authority to look into the matters of corruption of even the Prime minister and Chief Minister , respectively.
The Lokpal has even more autonomy than the Chief Vigilance Commission. The Lokpal, himself, has the power to look into the investigation of charges against an official while the Vigilance Commissioner has no direct interference in the cases of corruption.
However, there are still glitches in the Lokpal system because the whistle blowers or the people who file the cases against officials, before the Lokpal body have no protection of anonymity. This can even endanger their lives. However, certain loose strings have been tightened in comparison to the CVC by fixing the duration within which the Lokpal has to submit their report; i.e. six months.
Fugitive Economic Offenders’ Bill, 2018: This Bill has been another move in granting the government and the judicial bodies more power over corruption. This Bill allows for someone against whom there is an arrest warrant involving an amount over 100 crores and that person has left the country and refuses to return to face the charges and further judicial action.
If declared a FEO, the government has the right to confiscate the properties of such an individual and the FEO or any company associated with him may be barred from filing or defending civil claims.** Such an initiative came to the rise when there were more than one instances in the country of defaulters escaping the country to seek asylum in countries which shall also provide them citizenship. Vijay Mallya is the first person to be declared a Fugitive Economic Offender.
An initiative by the Central Government: The burning topic in the news, recently, has been the bold move of Demonetisation by the central government headed by Narendra Modi. The high value currency notes, including those of Rupees 500 and 1000 were taken out of circulation and replaced by the new 2000 and 500 currency notes.
This was an effort that, in the opinion of the government would have required the people to declare all the currency they had been hoarding till now and thus, the corrupy would have been caught. The move, though well-intentioned, did not lead to rounding up of many offenders, yet it did expose some amount of corruption existing in the economy.
The biggest change it brought about was the advent of India as a cashless economy. Digital transactions have gained momentum since this move and that is a step towards development and accountability of money.
Thus, it can be seen that India is progressing but at a very slow rate. Corruption is slacking its pace. We, as moral citizens of the country, should equally contribute to the drive by refraining from giving bribes and reporting any undue demands or instances of corruption on part of the public officials.
India has always been the land leading people to spirituality and morality. It is important to go back to our traditions and Justify what our motherland has always espoused-purity of the heart and actions.
**Legal report published by PRS Legislative Research- www.prsindia.org