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Friday, November 26, 2010

Corruption: Subversion of system for income

India's rank has slipped to 87nth position out of 178 countries in the Transparency International corruption perception Index 2009. Its rank has also gone down in the Bribe Payers Index among developing economic powers. Integrity score of our country has fallen to 3.3 out of 10 in 2010. Its integrity score was 3.5 in 2007 and 3.4 in 2008-09.   Public funds are being looted for personnel accumulation of wealth by a nexus of politicians- bureaucrats-corporate sectors since India became a republic state. Politicians have made this country their personnel fiefdom and use their position to make money and retain power. Corruption is not limited to politicians, businessmen and ruling oligarchs, but it seems that it has pervaded all sections of society. Lord Acton's saying" power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely fits today's India.

Politicians take a share of babu's commission that they take out of every project. when a politician spends money in election, that is his investment. This investment, they think, makes them morally right to reap percentage from every people's project.

Government job seekers also think 'Bribe' is an investment in jobs. So, they think that making money through corruption is from all points of view legal and moral their right.

For citizens and businesses, corruption is a faster and efficient medium to avail any government service ranging from train ticket to ticket for Parliament or assembly seat, not to forget various contracts.

Factory owners, shopkeepers, business houses, contractors hold gift giving functions for government officials who handle factories, sales tax, income tax, labour pollution, and so on. Officials, in their turn, free them from hackles of government rules and regulation and thus business runs smoothly. Factory owners do not have to pay full wages to the workers, maintain clean and hygienic working condition etc. They prepare inflated invoices with the help of officials for governments subsidies. Some business establishments grasp lands for business purposes at a fraction of the market value.

Builders build apartments without conforming the planning regulations. Businesses are set up without permit in prohibition area like residential colonies. Innocent farmers, displaced poor people due to mega projects of government and private sectors, are cheated of due compensation.

The biggest form of corruption is 'scam' which has been going on since Independence. It is a huge loot by politicians in collusion with government official and business establishments. To name a few: Jeep scam during Pandit Nehru Prime Ministership tenure, Animal Husbandry scam in Bihar, Bofors scam, Spectrum Scam, Common wealth games scam, Koda scam in Jharkhand and now Adarsh Society Scam in the name of flat allotment to Kargil's heros.

A few gains from this environment of pervasive corruption, while society as a whole looses crores of rupees. The honest government officials are often sidelined. Sometimes, they are killed, their family members suffer silently. The bureaucrat's hierarchy is based on corrupt practices. Corruption is the yardstick of promotion, not honesty and merit. Law abiding citizens, weak and poor are often penalized by bureaucrats using delay tactics.

A poor person has to pay bribe to get his or her name registered in BPL. Old destitute pays bribe to collect old age pension from Post office. A pregnant woman pays commission to nurse to secure her maternity benefit. Funds in MNREGA are siphoned off by officials, staff and Mukhia. There are a lot of such instances where poor are fleeced by government officials, staffs, political representatives and government contractors.

Why there is so much corruption in our society? It is a matter of great debate. Law-makers, executive and judiciary are unable to prevent those who exploit the system for their own interests. Time to time, legislature brings new regulations, inspections, restrictions to check corruption. But, all efforts go in vain because as stated above, they are all part of corrupt system.

Corruption can not be totally rooted from the society, but it can be controlled to great extent by using modern electronic devices, strong punitive measures. Complicated rules and regulations must be replaced by simple and straightforward ones. Every government establishment should be installed with surveillance Camera recording interactions between government officials-citizens. These are the measures worth taking despite exchequer will be burdened with heavy costs.

Corruption emerges in the system when it fails to cater to the interest of rich and poor both. While corruption practices prove beneficial for the rich the poor suffer badly from it. The system, as of today, is a combination of feudalism and Global Capitalism. Capitalists and Feudalists are making use full potential of the system to fleec this country's natural resources in connivance with politicians and bureaucrats. All legislators and parliamentarians have become billionaires. All but a few bureaucrats are not far behind politicians  masters in profiteering.

The question is how to save poor, honest, weak citizens from the jaws of the agents of corruption? They all will have to come together to create a new system which is accountable to the people based on transparency which is 'by the people, of the people and for the people, not for the billionaires.         

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