There were many news headlines. First a Minister’s nephew was caught taking bribe to favor a Government Servant with his promotion. Secondly house of a Major General was being searched due to corruption charges. Everyday there is a headline about one of the cases the Supreme Court of India is groping with, regarding corruption and its improper prosecution. A building fell in Bangladesh due to greed of a corrupt Engineer killing 506 people and head count continues. Yesterday I had an old case, one of the High Court judges who tried that case once, is presently being prosecuted for corruption, that too because he foolishly resigned, otherwise he was immune. Rumours in Bar room as to how a particular judge can be influenced by bribe through his book seller and another through his ex partner or another through his son, left me to wonder what was happening. Actually it is a reflection of human race as such. We are only cheating ourselves. What happens if a corrupt person falls sick and gets a corrupt/dishonest doctor who instead of treating him/her, makes sure that these people remain in hospital?
Where to find center of morality!
Coming across corrupt officials, in this profession, also as an average citizen, is obviously scrutable. Corruption is everywhere. (Read related articles listed below) Drooling over money has earned a respectable status. Greed is good is now an official statement of capitalism and being applied everywhere. Accountability is so low that officials in corridors of power find that it is ‘normal’ to be corrupt. It is often a matter of pondering why corruption is so rampant. More so it is same, spanning across different generations and offices. An official/judge would first visit the temple, apply tilak or holy mark on his forehead sit in his office or court, under promise or oath to be diligent and honest yet would have no apparent conflict of morality, while being God-fearing and being dishonest/corrupt at the same time. But conflict exists. Inside.
Where has the center of morality shifted? Why?
Lack of accountability
The legal principle is that it is within the jurisdiction of an authority deciding the matter to commit error or decide erroneously. Now this is too much discretion. But this discretion become infinite when scope of error extends to being arbitrary or perverse. In other words an error which is completely contrary to law or facts must be severely punished as misconduct for such an error, is not and can not be in good faith. It is either reckless or dishonest. Either way it is dangerous to a free and egalitarian society which is to be managed by public offices.
Crises of conviction
It appears, that there is crises of conviction. First there are no role models. Even if there are, no one wants to be caught with lesser possessions. Living with austerity is a matter of ridicule. Living in an opulent apartment or riding a BMW/Audi/Rolls is being perceived as necessity. However, being a small time crook does not make that target easy. Huge, big fanciful assets come with fanciful side liabilities. More so expectations. Once a person false into this trap he is struck in there as slave of money. Similar to that of a honey bee. It’s life reduced to collecting nectar and depositing in its hive, like a worker honey bee working for queen bee.
Unfortunately there also exists a long-standing tradition to be corrupt. It runs in families. I remember that I had a class fellow, who had many relatives in irrigation department in a State. He told me that every contract issued by that department has a percentage fixed for its officials. He also told me that lower officials had higher percentage and therefore were considered more suited for marriage-making. At that time it was a startling discovery. But eventually I came to know that such corrupt practices are prevalent in every department of Government. It is a colonial legacy which we have nourished so well that it has blossomed into poison ivy.
Why so much corruption in public offices?
The society is corrupt as a whole because corruption is just another face of dishonesty. Human minds like mirrors, start to reflect each other, in no time. While those not holding public offices are free to mislead people by selling dreams and cheat, we blame holders of public office only. Law permits false advertisements under the theory of ‘puffing up’ the product. Law presumes too many untrue things e.g. Corporations as juristic entity is a legal fiction which is another name of a lie. Knowledge of law is also a presumption which is unlimited and impossible to be true.
People on the street are no different. We want more than what our neighbor may get. More parking on public spaces, even if it obstructs pathway for others. More encroachment to extend building space.
Lawyers attending court without diligently reading their briefs. Estate Agents telling ridiculous prices with huge difference between selling and buying the same price. Book sellers selling old editions of books as new. Medicines released as safe without properly testing for longer duration. Testing medicine on the poor under the pretext of treatment. Pharmacy selling sub-standard drugs which do not effectively help people and some time harm them. All with the connivance of Public officer supposed to monitor. Government not resorting to austerity and wasting money collected in taxes. The same public servants end up paying the maximum taxes and find another reason to be corrupt.
Each individual living in his small reality, justifying his corruption over others. Each suffering for the greed, dishonesty and corruption of other without realizing his own contribution. It is a vicious but endless cycle.
Can it change?
Why should it and How?
But if so many can live in an illusion that money is so important to be deceptive, manipulative, dishonest and corrupt, can we also live in illusion that there is no corruption? A good number of us actually do.