Corruption in public life

R L Bhat

Corruption in public life is not a modern phenomenon. It was prevalent in the political and civic life of ancient India and has been discussed by famous historian i.e. Katulilya in Arthshastra. But it is since independence that corruption has become a chronic feature of our public life. It is now treated as a normal feature. Now people do not show any reaction against corrupt practices, or express any shock when big scandals like 2G Spectrum, fair fax deal, scandal in Common Wealth Games are exposed .

In British rule when India was ruled with the help of bureaucrats of Indian civil service. These officers being above corruption helped the British to maintain law and order and run the administration efficiently. But some departments like police and PWD were notorious for their corrupt practices even then. Corruption was not so rampant as it is today for the simple reason that there were fewer opportunities.

After independence, we adopted a democratic pattern of society. In order to make democracy successful there must be responsible citizens who are not merely aware of their rights but also of their duties. They have power to put people in power who are worth to rule. Political rulers should be role model in society. They must possess high values. But it was indeed sad that public trust in these leaders was betrayed. Such is the height of situation that people now realize that the faith they had placed in politicians was misplaced. Now it has become a normal routine that when ever a scandal is exposed commissions of inquiry are appointed to appease the common masses and their anger. However complete truth is never made public.

There are endless opportunities for corruption in a developed country like ours. Although there are rules and regulations governing the conduct of public servants but these are twisted and interpreted in accordance with the circumstances. There is a wide spread nepotism and favourtism and manipulation in social setup of our country.

Even a petty clerk wields more power than a more successful private citizen. It is said that to get even a paper moved in a office of Govt. one has to grease the itching palms of these people.

The basic factor responsible for corruption is the conflict between the civil servants and politicians. In order to maintain his political base and consolidate his position in his area a politician accommodates many people i.e. prominent wealthy voters, party leaders, members of parliament etc. and grants them concessions to give their support. On the other hand responsible civil servants are constantly thwarted in their attempts to move according to establish rules. This is the crucial reason that antisocial activities can not be effectively be brought under control. Thus many people i.e. hoarders, smugglers, tax evaders, business, houses enjoy political support thus weaking the hands of the authorities. Corruption can certainly checked if the civil servants do not succumb to political pressure. However Govt should ensure that there is no victimisation of such honest officers. Otherwise it can demoralise them and corruption will flourish to a great extent in society. There is a widespread impression that many of our politicians and party chiefs place personal and party interests above public welfare and there by endanger basic values of life. A political leader should not become prey of people who are not well wishers of society. As political parties can not function without funds. They are obliged to accept money from business houses in exchange for certain concessions. The only way to eliminate this form of corruption is that election expenses should be reduced to the minimum and the law should be vigorously enforced.

Due to the progress in economy the price levels have risen to such extent that the purchasing power of the rupees is only 10 paise today. It has made life of fixed income group very difficult. People having black money used to live in palatial houses and make the middle classes feel helpless. Many of them can not resist the temptation of making easy money to maintain their social status. But this does not in any way justify corruption, but brings us to the point that we have forgotten our Gandhian ideals and merely pay lip services to them. Had our politician led an austere life corruption in society could have been greatly checked if not altogether eliminated. Besides no amount of revision in pay scales can satisfy people, unless the abnormal rise in the prices of essential commodities is brought under control.

Today corruption has become so widespread that there is no sphere of national life where it does not exist. Large sum of money allocated for development of people at grassroot level for their welfare never reaches to real beneficiaries. Thus there is no progress of nation in real sense.

The Central Govt is always aware of the need to combat corruption. In 1964 on the suggestion of Sanathan Committee the Govt announced code for Central and State Ministers. It suggested the people in power to declare their assets and liabilities and put restretch on collecting funds for election. However these restriction were not seriously enforced, things continued to degenerate. A major factor in facilitating corruption in the existing system of transfers and posting of Govt servants. The threat of transfer was considered an ideal way of controlling the behavior of civil servants. The transfer system was introduced by British to prevent local officials from becoming too powerful. Today it has become the soul of the our social society. Of course there are still people who are honest. But as long as people are willing to offer bribes, directly or indirectly and as long as the needs of people go on increasing, there would be temptations to make money on the sly.