In a write-up, Mr. K. Subrahmanyan has wittily remarked, “Long before our economic globalisation began, India was globalised in respect of political corruption and politician- organised crime nexus. Therefore, smugglers, narcotics’ barons, vice syndicates and protection rackets have become patrons of political parties. The former provides large resources to politicians and the latter ensures no legal enforcement against organised crime.” For example, take the Securities scam. Harshad Mehta manipulated things in such a way as to enable himself to siphon crores of rupees fraudulently from banks, under the very noses of the managers, high officials and other members of the staff of the Reserve Bank of India. Was it because of alleged system failure or because there was collusion between him and the officials concerned? The connivance of one or two cabinet ministers has also been there.
Fingers were also raised at M. J. Fherwani, the then Chairman of the National Housing Bank, who died under mysterious circumstances soon after. Consequently, a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) was constituted under the chairmanship of Mr. R.N. Mirdha to probe the scandal. The JPC finally submitted its report to the Parliament but nothing happened to the people found involved in the scam. When there was a hue and cry from the Opposition, a couple of ministers were asked to submit their resignations and that was all. As has already been pointed out, we have no system, no tradition, either to punish the guilty or to bring an investigation to its logical conclusion. Moreover, public memory is very short.
There is a parallel economy in operation in India and black money is ever on the increase because of political patronage and collusion. There is a widespread evasion of taxes, to the tune of crores of rupees every year, owing to corruption in politics, administration and enforcement agencies. In return, the political gurus get huge funds to fight elections and bribes for personal accumulations. This helps them to keep themselves in positions of power and influence. The funding from organised black marketers, drug traffickers, underworld dons, mafias and smugglers is actually on a much larger scale than is apparent. This has crippled our economy and turned our planning haywire.
Corruption has become a way of life. There is no effective check on this growing menace because there is lack 6f political will. In spite of anti-corruption departments and squads, it has permeated the rank and the file of the administration. No work can be got done unless the palms of the concerned officials are greased. Lubricant in the form of gratification is a must to make the administrative machinery move smoothly in your favour. First satisfy the officials and then get satisfying results in return.
Often, investigations by CBI and vigilance departments into corruption charges against the bureaucrats have proved futile. Such is the power of manipulation, money and nepotism. Kickbacks, gratifications, bribes, and commissions are the order of the day. Students pay capitation fees to get admission in professional courses, job-seekers purchase positions in the administration, contractors grease the palms of the engineers so as to enable themselves to use sand in place of cement in contractual constructions, businessmen use the appropriate ‘lubricant’ to keep their illegal operations moving smoothly. And then these people, in turn, want to regain their money manifold and quickly by resorting to fraudulent, easy and corrupt means. Thus, there is a vicious circle engulfing all and sundry.
Honest, sincere and god-fearing officials are looked down upon. They are considered simpletons, while the bribe-takers are the heroes. The corrupt officials are doing very well for themselves and their higher-ups patronize and protect them because of their fair share in the bribes. These people, in collaboration, co-operation and collusion with others, are enriching themselves. They have fat bank balances, houses in prime locations, and all the modern amenities. They are really rolling in wealth and comprise the most successful segment of the society. There are a few honest ones but they are not courageous enough to condemn and criticism their dishonest and bribe-happy colleagues. They are silent spectators to their corrupt counterparts, being favoured with important posts and assignments. The honest officers are a demoralized lot. Consequently, the fence-sitters are being pushed on to the bandwagon of the corrupt lot.
Corruption cannot be checked and minimised unless political leaders themselves are honest and have a strong will and desire to stem the rot. The leaders should encourage honest officials and help them to unite against corrupt and dishonest ones. Corruption should be dealt with an iron hand and further rules and regulations enacted to punish the corrupt government servants and administrators. Nepotism, favoritism, and red- tapism, etc., should be eliminated because they form the very foundations of corruption. Improvement in salaries, creation of more employment opportunities can also go a long way in tackling the menace successfully.
Honesty is conspicuous these days by its absence. According to a newspaper report, even the judiciary does not seem to be free from the evil. The former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, E.S. Venkatramaiya speaking in an interview said, “The judiciary in India has deteriorated in its standard because such judges are appointed as are willing to be influenced by lavish parties and whiskey bottles.” He added, In every high court, there are at least four to five judges who are practically out every evening, wining and dining either at a lawyer’s house or a foreign embassy.” Corruption is now so well-organized and entrenched in the system that it requires a will of steel and the courage of a lion to fight it.
Now, effective and strong strategies, backed by strong political will, should be devised to checkmate it. There should be deterrent Punishment for those indulging in corruption. Both giving and taking of bribes should be a cognizable offence. Much depends upon our political leaders, bureaucrats and the enlightened public consciousness. Unless these three units make sincere efforts and show their commitment to the democratic nation and society, nothing much will be achieved to check and eliminate corruption.