Ironically, corruption springs straight from this theory. What we seldom acknowledge is that we are all corrupt in varying measures. It would therefore be utopian to expect total extinction of the evil called corruption. There has never been an era in human history – Ramayana and Mahabharata periods included – when corruption did not exist. Why we are crying against it today is because it has crossed our affordability limits. Secondly, the role of ‘fear’ has altered. Instead of inducing caution and fearfulness in the mind of the exploiter, it has now gone in reverse mode and seems to add an awesome, fearsome dimension to his position. Gone are the days of ‘under-the-table deals’; it is blatantly open and an over-the-table business now. Public ambivalence on such dealings has only encouraged the perpetrators of the evil because they are patronised by the same people who envy and hate them in private. Politics in India has become the most lucrative business with fastest rise in fortunes. As reported recently in newspapers, rise in wealth of our politicians averaged 300% or more depending upon the ‘capability’ and ‘capacity’ of the leader concerned within a period of five years as evidenced from the affidavits filed by MPs/MLAs. Who will not like to win over (or buy out) a pliable bureaucrat, judge or a politician willing to intercept and change the course of justice to favour their benefactors – be they from governmental hierarchy, cronies from fraternity or an interested ‘party’ from the public? Those who can pay can make the otherwise callous police and local administration move and act in their desired manner. Unlike other necessities of life, sex and money influence people in more curious ways – the more you have, the more you will want. Lust is nothing but excessive greed, which can drive you mad like it happened with the Home Ministry bureaucrat, Ravi Inder Singh who was arrested in November 2010 for selling state secrets in return for favours in sex and cash.
Fear can often lead to panic, which ultimately hampers decision-making abilities in individuals and establishments headed by leaders and officers so affected. The nation has seen manifestation of this phenomenon in the jittery responses of the Government in handling the recent public protests against corruption. First, the Government thought Anna Hazare was too tiny to deserve its attention. Later, when the nation rallied behind him in remarkable spontaneity, it scurried to appoint a joint drafting committee with a duly notified time frame to draft and legislate the Lokpal Bill as demanded by the ‘civil society’. Again, it made a mockery of statecraft in dealing with Baba Ramdev – first, it seemed going prostrate instantly conceding all his demands (some even weird!) even before he could step out of Delhi Airport. Even as their pleasantries went on, we saw a panic driven action by the authorities unleashing harsh and unprovoked police atrocities in dispersing a peaceful, harmless gathering in the sleepy hours of night at Ramlila ground in Delhi. Statecraft having been abandoned, witchcraft has taken over.
Corruption has now become Frankenstein’s monster in the Indian politics serving and scaring the greed breed of today’s leaders. No political party is happy to decry it enough except when it serves them in scoring over the opponents. Whereas political parties like Bharatiya Janata Party are quick to cash in on the rising public angst against the Congress/UPA, no political outfit has come out with open and unequivocal support for the Jan Lokpal Bill proposed by the Anna Hazare - Arvind Kejriwal team nor for the measures proposed by Baba Ramdev against corruption and black money. The government is now reportedly considering declaring Jantar Mantar ‘out-of-bounds for protests and rallies’ and party spokespersons are indulging in trading cheap metaphors against each other with little concern to the real issues. ow long will the government keep running in circles to shoo away the monster of its own creation chasing it in the same circle? It is a clear case of a government running away from its people even as the people’s faith in their elected leaders is eroding pushing them to find better alternatives in cleaner and more sincere social servants like Anna Hazare. Col Karan Kharb (Retd)
Corruption is just one of many ills in our system of governance that need to be overhauled. Even the orthodox societies are fast evolving and adjusting to new realities. India, already well poised to lead the world, is hindered and threatened not so much by Pakistan or China but by its very own enemy within – corruption in high places. It is therefore important and urgent for the government and civil society to consider the following vital issues and expand the debate to work out appropriate systemic changes to fight corruption:
Col Karan Kharb (Retd)