Corruption… its causes, how can it be curtailed?

Corruption, a vast topic on which volumes can be written while being almost certain that not all of it has been covered.  Ayesha Tammy Haq, a renowned lawyer and a broadcast journalist tried to address the issue on 24seven, Business Plus (October 22, 2012), with distinguished guests.

While many participated in that program giving their valuable input, to my utmost astonishment, not a single person (from what was shared) mentioned that “I” am the source of corruption.  It is felt after watching the program and observing general discussion on the same on social media (specially Twitter), that very few understand the depth of the term “corruption”.  All eyes are focusing on what “corruption” is today in its mammoth state where bribing and shortcuts have become a norm.  As Ms. Haq asked if corruption has become part of our culture, a person aptly mentioned, “corruption is a part of our DNA”.

The statement may be quite strong but may not be too far from reality considering the fact that various corrupt practices are not even considered as evil as they should be.  In order to understand the depth of this claim, one must first understand the term “corruption”.  A simple search on the internet reveals Transparency International defining corruption as: “The abuse of entrusted power for private gain. It hurts everyone who depends on the integrity of people in a position of authority”.  It is this myopic view which perhaps de-rails an individual thought process and limits corruption to “those in power”.  This leads us straight to the politicians, bureaucrats, the armed forces, etc.  This definition completely absolves “the people” who are said to be hurt because of corruption by those in power, without identifying “the people” to be at the core.

Wikipedia, however, presents a more understandable definition which may lead us to the crux, and in turn, paves the way to a possible amelioration on the current massive levels.  It says, “corruption is spiritual or moral impurity or deviation from an ideal”.  It is this definition that brings up a question.  Does one have to be in power to be corrupt?  Certainly not!  The level of power of a person indulging in corruption only dictates how many people are affected by the corruption undertaken by that person.  Yet, there can very well be a person who may perform corruption and may not affect anyone but his/her own self.

Corruption stems from the basic lack of morality at any and every level from a simple housewife, to the president of a nation.  The root cause being the desire of ease in our lives at any and every level. The short-cuts which are, way too often, found most convenient.  The problem is “I” who cannot observe simple rules and regulations.  “I” may be a ‘nobody’ today, may not possess any power at this time, so “I” will just bribe a traffic police with 100 Rupees.  Why would “I” do that? Because that is all “I” can do today.  Tomorrow, I may become a successful business person or a bureaucrat or may be a public servant, a minister, etcetera, and the level of my crookedness will certainly adapt to the level of power “I” may possess.

During the show referred to earlier, many views were being shared on social media where the discussion lingered around politicians, bureaucrats, and the likes.  Media is also often targeted which may or may not be rightly so. However, a simple question may lead to the stance taken herein.  Where does the president, the bureaucrat, the minister, the anchor, the journalist or the general come from? Are they from another planet?  They are no one but “us” and most probably in their early days, paid 100 rupees to the traffic policeman to avoid a challan when they were a ‘nobody’.

How can “corruption” then be controlled or curtailed?  Such a strongly engrained malady is difficult to manage in a short span of time.  It is a mindset which needs to be invested upon.  Unfortunately, education is clearly not the answer.  Many will agree that corruption is not limited to the uneducated.  If anyone has a doubt, a quick visit to the nearest NADRA office can settle this.  Just observe who the pay-masters are bribing unofficial agents outside the passport or CNIC offices.

The answer then, is in implementation of laws and honesty of the members of the Law Enforcement Agencies.  One may argue that this is the window which opens up to corruption-haven.  Indeed a very valid argument.  However, investment in these agencies in terms of training and alignment of remuneration with international markets may assist in starting to address corruption.  The performance of Motorway Police in comparison with other police departments can be studied which will reflect on the former being much “cleaner”.

“I” am the core of corruption and since “I” know that today “I” can get away with anything paying my way through, “I” will go for anything and everything as long as “I” can afford the price-tag attached with it.  However, if “I” know that there will just be no way “I” can get away with something, “I” will think it many times over before even trying.  Having this in mind and having lived through such discipline, “I” just may make a good minister, bureaucrat or president one day.

Much more important than very effective Law Enforcement Agencies is “self check”.  True character is reflected upon when one chooses to do the right thing while no one is watching.  This may be a long-shot!  Why is it said that it may be a long-shot? Well, if we have experts sitting on public media and mentioning “corruption by necessity”, what can be said…

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About baahirezaman

A banker by profession and a human by nature. I have views, opinions, observations about anything and everything with the remotest and slightest effect on human life, even a single one.

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