Corruption in Society
Corruption is now a world-wide phenomenon. There is scarcely any society that is free from it. It is very difficult to root out this infectious disease that has become rampant in all fields. According to Lord Acton, power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. To quote Shakespeare, “corruption wins more than honesty.” Edmund Burke believes that a corrupt influence is a perennial spring of decay and disorder.
Let us first examine the political field. Richard Nixon, 37th President of the USA, was forced to resign in 1974 because of his complicity in the Watergate scandal. Ford, who succeeded him, however, gave him-pardon. He came under a cloud. A year later Nixon said that he had not done anything unusual and that the past President had done more or less the same. He had particularly in mind the immense wealth acquired by Lyndon Johnson when he became President of the USA, in 1963. When he entered the political field, he was a poor man. Robert Walpole, the first Prime Minister of England, continued in office by dishonest and corrupt practices. MarcoS, President of the Philippines, was out and out corrupt. Corruption charges have also been leveled against Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s Prime Minister. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the wife of ex-president Bill Clinton admitted in May’ 94 that there were a lot of missteps in the handling of the Whitewater affair. According to the New York Times she was able to make a profit of $100,000 with the help of a friend. The big bull Harshad Mehta alleged that he had paid one crore rupees as a pay-off to the Prime Minister. The Joint Parliamentary Committee that inquired into the Securities-scam indicated two ministers at the Center. But they did not resign. “The most elementary qualification demanded of a minister, says Ivor Jennings is honesty and incorruptibility. It is, however, necessary not only that he should possess this qualification, but also that he should appear to possess it.” But in India’s politics this qualification is at a premium. To quote B.K. Nehru, “So inured have become it (corruption) that instead of reacting to it as destructive of all morality and decently accept it as a recognised way of life. Corruption has spread to every part of the governmental apparatus. We are powerless prisoners of the system within which we must operate. An uncomfortably large number of politicians and ministers are -corrupt.” In our society, politics has become a very lucrative occupation. A large number of politicians have become rich. They live on the fat of land. Gandhiji wanted the ministers and legislators to be like Caesar’s wife, above suspicion in everything. “They may not make private gains either for themselves or for their relatives or friends,” he said. But there is hardly any politician in India who lives up to this ideal of the Mahatma. Most of the politicians are interested only in feathering their nests. Gandhiji spiritualized politics. But it is has been criminalised in our country. In a few states notorious criminals are chosen as party candidates to stand for the elections. There is a nexus between several politicians and criminals. Criminals supply money to politicians and political parties. In return, they demand protection from the police and the bureaucracy.
Corruption has become common in the various departments of the governments and banks. According to a report published in The Hindu, one-third of the population in the city of Bangalore pays speed money to the government servants there. If one does not the palm of the official concerned, one will not get in time what one wants from the office. Harshad Mehta and other stock-brokers embezzled more than four thousand crore rupees from the State Bank of India and other banks. For this they got the help of a few bank officials.
Most of our businessmen are corrupt. They evade taxes by manipulating the accounts. Old stock is sold at new prices. Provisions are often adulterated and they are not properly weighed. Spurious articles are sold using exaggerated advertisements. To cleanse the Augean stables in our society, no effective steps have been taken either by any state governments or by the government of India. There must be an authority independent of any government controls to enquire into the charge of corruption and it must have the power to take suitable action against our ministers M.LA.s, M.P.s government servants and bank employees. If any officer does anything contrary to these directions, he may be sacked, suspended or demoted, on grounds of dereliction of duty and inefficiency. Corrupt politicians and criminals should not be allowed to contest the seats either in Parliament or in the State Legislatures. If necessary, suitable amendments should be made in the Representation of the People Act (1951). The wealth acquired by people, disproportionate to their incomes, is to be confiscated by the governments. Low-paid government employees have to be given better pay. The government should also take expeditious steps to reduce the glaring economic inequality existing between the haves and have not. The word “socialist” included in the Preamble to the Constitution 42nd Amendment 1976) does not reduce hunger effective steps must also be taken by the government to check the growth of black money.
Shri C. Rajagopalachari, the first Indian Governor-General of India, was very unhappy when he observed the widespread corruption in our society. He wrote in the Swarajya, “Every dishonest man, either in government or in business, is a co-assassin with Godse. Every one who utilizes powers for personal or party advantage is a Godse. Everyone who gives or receives a bribe is an unconvinced Godse.”