Corruption in India – It starts with YOU!

The past one week witnessed one of the most promising non-violent campaigns in Indian history post independence. A spirited septuagenarian activist by name Anna Hazare got the whole nation lined up behind him to fight the biggest threat that we are facing in India today i.e. political corruption. He adopted the Gandhian model of ‘Satyagraha’ (fasting) to press the government to implement what’s called the Lokpal Bill (Ombudsman Bill) to take on the corrupt public servants in India.

I have mentioned it before that corruption is one of the blockers on our way towards becoming a developed nation. Due to our colonial past and the divide-and-conquer strategies that the British adopted on hundreds or thousands of our regional kings, religious factions and highly sensitive people who spoke multiple languages, ‘corruption’, ‘hierarchy’ and ‘bureaucracy’ etc became part and parcel of our lives. Now, having achieved our independence more than 60 years back, there’s absolutely no point in blaming the past (and the British) because any other country with a positive mindset and strong governance would have got rid off menaces like corruption by now. Since, India could not do it yet, there’s every reason for Anna Hazare and like-minded people to drive a campaign such as the one we are witnessing right now.

The topic of the day is not Lokpal Bill or how corrupt our politicians are today. Lokpal Bill is more of a reactive mechanism to counter the corrupt public servants. But to prevent corruption, the best foot forward is to de-corrupt every individual of this country by way of living with the right kind of upbringing from childhood itself.

Nobody’s born corrupt!

Corruption, bribery etc are nothing but the result of unethical upbringing. Due to socio-economic imbalances that is prevalent in our country for years together along with the colonial aspects that I mentioned above, a big percentage of our citizens (including politicians) may have been corrupt. However, the current generation of youngsters has a huge role to play in bringing up their children the right way so that their kids would not become corrupt. For that to happen, you have to correct yourself the right away even before correcting and educating your kids. By the way, there is a huge difference between ‘getting educated’ and ‘getting a degree’. Many of us have qualifications but not really educated to behave ethically in a society.

In fact, corruption starts at a smaller level at your home or work place, a much bigger level within your social role, and at a mammoth level at those who handle higher positions within the government. It’s stupid to think that only those politicians who cause 100s of crore scams are corrupt.

Are you corrupt?

If you are one of those who stood by Anna Hazare in the past one week, you should ask these questions to yourself to make sure that you are not corrupt.

  1. Do you pay your income taxes on every taxable rupee that you earn? i.e. Do you really pay taxes on income sources such as bank interests, gifts received, freelance-consulting income etc? If not, YOU ARE CORRUPT!
  2. At work, do you misuse your office phone/mobile for personal purposes and not pay for that? Do you claim benefits using false medical bills or rental receipts? Do you claim reimbursements for non-official bills as well? If so, YOU ARE CORRUPT
  3. Do you break traffic rules? If so, you are UNETHICAL and to save your time or severe punishment, do you bribe the policeman? If so, you as well as policeman ARE CORRUPT. And if you do this when you are with your family, YOUR CHILDREN WILL BE CORRUPT, in the future as well
  4. Do you bribe a government officer to get a benefit that you don’t deserve? For example, passing an illegal housing construction plan or registering a property at a lower value? If so, YOU ARE CORRUPT even before the government officer is
  5. In your housing society or apartment community, do you pay your maintenance charges on time? On top of that are you setting right examples to your children by teaching them the rules and regulations prevailing in the society? If not, you are highly UNETHICAL and TAINTED
  6. When you happen to borrow money from someone, don’t you feel like returning it on time. I have known a few people who don’t do that and when such people go to a higher level, obviously they become CORRUPT because they like others’ money

There are huge number of such examples in life ranging from buying movie or match tickets in the black market to skipping a purchase bill to cheat government by not paying sales tax and so on. For all the above tainted and corrupt behaviour of yours, you cannot keep blaming the politicians or system because it’s you at the centre of such incidents.

Now you know where the corruption starts, don’t you? So first change yourself and set the right example to your kids and the society. Rest of the good will automatically happen in a few years without any Lokpal Bill. By the way, as of today the bill is still required as an impeachment mechanism to tackle the current corrupt set of people but hopefully, it’s not much required in another 25 years.

Be the change!

6 Replies to “Corruption in India – It starts with YOU!”

  1. Ajith,
    Wonderful article! The activities you have mentioned are so trivial that people do not believe that they are even committing a crime. They believe that they have the right to the money since the company budgeted for it and adds to their greed to grab all that they are privileged. And yes, it is these small loss of values that your children pick up and one sets up a wrong example.
    We all want to cry foul on the politicians, officers, police when they ask for favors. We all fight for a law hoping that this will solve all corruption problems. We are sadly mistaken. Problems will be solved only with a changed mindset, not with a fear of law or punishment hanging over your head.
    The day one feels strong (which they will) when they resist being “corrupt” on their own and focus on the purpose of their service to the country or company or public whole heartedly, we should see changes around. It may not happen in the near future, but will have to sometime or the other.

  2. Most of the communities in India (such as Bengali), are succumbed in ‘Culture of Poverty'(a theory introduced by an American anthropologist Oscar Lewis), irrespective of class or economic strata, lives in pavement or apartment. Nobody is at all ashamed of the deep-rooted corruption, decaying general quality of life, worst Politico-administrative system, weak mother language, continuous absorption of common space (mental as well as physical, both). We are becoming fathers & mothers only by self-procreation, mindlessly & blindfold. Simply depriving their(the children) fundamental rights of a decent, caring society, fearless & dignified living. Do not ever look for any other positive alternative behaviour (values) to perform human way of parenthood, i.e. deliberately co-parenting of those children those are born out of ignorance, real poverty. All of us are being driven only by the very animal instinct. If the Bengali people ever be able to bring that genuine freedom (from vicious cycle of ‘poverty’) in their own life/attitude, involve themselves in ‘Production of Space’(Henri Lefebvre), at least initiate a movement by heart, decent & dedicated Politics will definitely come up.
    – Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay, 16/4, Girish Banerjee Lane, Howrah-711101.

  3. An excellent insight. I have always wondered why we keep worrying about who is responsible for what. At the end of the day, it is a collective responsibility and the onus of the same lies on someone who is capable of causing a change for the good.

  4. Ajith,

    Article is really excellent. Everybody should rethink before blaming corrupt people. As per the analysis, I think Indians 99% are corrupt.
    At this juncture I would like to say one thing after all we are Human beings with selfishness, otherwise we may become god.
    If u check in a departmental stores provided with CC cameras, there is no theft.
    Here the opportunity to escape is very less. Not just because they become good as soon as they entered in the stores.
    I believe that there should be fear to do any corruption.

    In this way Jan Lokpall bill is one step only.
    Thank You.
    Mahapatro tarun Kumar, Vishakhapatnam

    1. Thank you for your comment Tarun. I am not a big fan of Jan Lokpal though as like any other organization, it can get corrupt as well. Basically individuals need to bring in change within.

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