Jun 14, 2013

PHILOSOPHY OF CORRUPTION

Everybody talks about corruption in our society, especially in politics and governance. We debate and analyze the degree of corruption at different levels of the municipal, provincial and federal government. In third world countries, one has to pay bribe at every stage of life to get things done and it may be for the purpose of obtaining a power connection for the industries or a telephone connection for the home, getting legal protection from the police or obtaining pension upon retirement or any legitimate work which should have been done otherwise in the normal course of working. Public services provided by governments of these developing nations, do not work without greasing the palm of the officials or the politicians. People are not ashamed, even if financial scandals of colossus proportions are exposed one after another. They point fingers towards politicians and government officials and pass all the blame for this acute malady on them.

As a matter of fact, no part of this world is free from this moral putrefaction and loss of national character. But the problem is acute in third world countries including developing nations, where every department of the government, financial institution, educational establishment, health organization, private or public institution is engaged in corrupt practices. Nobody is concerned about the welfare of people and society or suffering humanity. Majority of them are shamelessly engaged in amassing ill-gotten wealth at the cost of the helpless and destitute. The greed for money or power has made them inhuman and no less than a vulture in character. As such, corruption in those countries has become blisters on the faces of nations resulting in chaotic and dysfunctional governance.

We as citizens of the world feel mortified the way society and nations are degrading all across the globe. In the hope of having corruption free governance, people in those countries replace the government but replacements prove to be equally incompetent and corrupt. The multitude of corruption keeps growing like a rolling snow ball and sometimes it appears to have become a way of life. Those who are indulged in corrupt practices also complain about corruption when their interests are not taken care of. It seems that the abyss of greed and moral turpitude is going to engulf the entire society and civilization per say. And the irony is that people shy away in voicing concerns because their concerns are also dictated by their selfish interests and impoverished morality. They keep on whining but do not do anything because corruption in society in fact reflects their own selves and blemished faces in the mirror. Their leaders are corrupt because they are corrupt ethically, morally and spiritually and as such they elect the most corrupt amongst them in a democratic framework.

Rule of Law:
Corruption or corrupt practices thrive in countries where the rule of law is not enforced or in other words public and politicians alike are actively engaged in undermining the enforcement of the rule of law. The rule of law implies that every citizen is subject to the law and there cannot be any exceptions in its essence and enforcement. Even if God is caught in violating the laws of the land, he should be tried and punished like anybody else to establish fear and respect for the rule of law.

Wherever the rule of law works, societies are free of corruption and ordinary people get the same service which is meant for the President or Prime Minister of the country. Everybody respects law and seldom people think of violating them. This gives rise to a civilized society and enforcement of the rule of law, provides people happiness, security and a good quality of life. In contrary, people in third world nations subjugate the law under them by bribing lawmakers and law enforcing agencies and hence make a mockery of the entire legal system.

Therefore questions come up that how and why we become corrupt in managing our society or nation? What are the root causes of corruption? Are we born corrupt or become corrupt in the process of growing? Is it the human nature to become corrupt in a given scenario? Is it the character of an individual or the entire population? Is it due to lack of education and understanding? Can we overcome our corrupt behavior? Is it a national character or one of few individuals? Is there any role of local laws and regulations promoting the growth of corruption?  Is corruption all over the world or in few countries? If a nation and its people are less corrupt then what makes it a better country than other corrupt nations? How can we overcome this cancerous malignancy which is destroying our civil lives?

ROOT CAUSES:
Generally we treat corruption in terms of financial misappropriation, embezzlement or scandal but ignore the key factors which are the building blocks of our morality. And if we lay the foundation of our moral and ethical standards by ignoring the quality of thoughts in our daily lives, then we will never be able to build a strong character for ourselves and the nation as a whole. We forget that financial corruption is one of the causes which is the outcome of the overall corruptions within us and which is spoon fed to us right from the first day we are born.

Charity Begins at Home:
Children are born with all simplicity and purity. Their mind is like a blank slate or white canvas ready to be written or painted with words of wisdom and knowledge. As they grow, we adults as their parents and primary teachers, start programming their innocent minds by providing our biased, cocooned or tainted knowledge. If we are enlightened mentally and spiritually, then we program their mind with words of wisdom and in contrary if we are corrupt mentally then we make them like us. The process of information is also transferred to a child by way of audio-visual presentation given by us in our daily discharge of chores inside the house.

For example- if we are short tempered and use abusive languages with other members of the family; when we talk foul about friends and relatives or back bite them; when we make a negative analysis or manipulate things in our favor; when we insult our elders and misbehave with them; when we smoke or drink or watch adult movies or use prohibitive words; when we are so greedy that for money we are willing to cheat our kin’s; when we differentiate between offspring’s on the basis their gender and give more importance to boys over girl;  when we give more importance to one child over another due to their beauty, position or financial success etc., then a child’s mind starts getting poisoned by listening or watching us and they grow up with a mental framework of accepting the family environment as a normal way of life. Our wrong actions and thinking casts shadow in the overall atmosphere of the family and as such we as parents start the process of corrupting their minds.

Does education makes a difference?
Once we corrupt the family environment then we cannot expect our society to be corruption free. And if the society is corrupt then how can we expect our leaders to be honest and trustworthy. In my experience modern western education has zero roles in making a society corruption free. I have seen several so-called educated people from premier institutions, indulged in bribery and having no control on their selfishness or temperament. I could have provided several examples of politicians and businessmen having graduated from Oxford and Harvard indulged in bribery and corruption of mammoth proportion. As a matter of fact, few people at the helm of banking and finance from these schools having an endless greed for money caused the crash of world market in the year 2008, thereby wiping out life savings of hundreds and thousands of pensioners and middle class people around the world.

Therefore lack of education may contribute in diminishing the level of quality of mind but cannot be the root cause of mental corruption? I have also seen some illiterate people more virtuous than many people having university degrees. The farce of the modern education system is that we seem to be educated and if higher education has enlightened our mind then we should have been in firm control of our emotions, greed and actions. But it is not, and that is why we are incapable of thinking beyond ourselves. This is also the reason that many so-called educated people are suffering from mental strife, tensions in personal relationships, vanity and clash of egos. There is an absolute dearth of understanding, compassion, compromise, sacrifice and adjustment in their personality. In this situation when we are ourselves mentally corrupt on personal level then how can we become a nice human being and make our society corruption free.

In the words of the former President of India Abdul Kalam Azad “If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are father, the mother and the teacher.

Therefore I strongly believe that the processes of corrupting our minds start from home and gradually transcends to our society and the nation at large. In order to hide our mental perversion we point fingers toward politicians and government officials. The degree of corruption in people determines the character of a nation and how farcical and hypocritical we are.

The famous Austrian writer of nineteenth century Karl Kraus said “Corruption is worse than prostitution. The latter might endanger the morals of an individual; the former invariably endangers the morals of the entire country.”
RANKING OF CORRUPT COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD:
On a world level some nations are less and some are more corrupt. The ‘Transparency International’ monitors the level of corruption in every country. As per their 2012 report, Top 10 Less Corrupt Countries from top to bottom (1 to 10) are:
  
1)    Denmark
      2)    New Zealand
      3)    Singapore
      4)    Finland
      5)    Sweden
      6)    Canada
      7)    Netherlands
      8)    Australia
      9)    Switzerland and
     10)  Norway.

And Top 10 Most Corrupt Countries from bottom to up (178 to 168) are:  Somalia, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Iraq, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Sudan, Chad, Burundi and Equatorial Guinea.

In between them, Germany ranks 15, Japan ranks 17, UK ranks 20, USA ranks 22, France Ranks 25, Italy ranks 67 and India ranks 87.

Based on the above ranking, one can presume the percentage of people being corrupt in a country. The percentage of corruption also determines the quality of life in a country. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has analyzed 34 member countries in 11 categories including income, housing, jobs, community, education, environment, civic engagement, health, life satisfaction, safety and work-life balance. As per their survey, 10 countries with the highest quality of life from top to bottom are:
     
1)    Australia
      2)    Sweden
      3)    Canada
      4)    Norway
      5)    Switzerland
      6)    United States
      7)    Denmark
      8)    Netherlands
      9)    Iceland and
    10) United Kingdom. 

Therefore, to sum up, there is no quick fix for removing corruption from our system unless we change ourselves or a revolution of a mammoth scale takes place in which not the leaders but the rule of law is firmly and diligently established.  In the current situation, if a leader with high moral values will try to remove corruption from society then we will not let it happen because we are ourselves corrupt in many ways in our daily chores of personal lives. And if we make a baby step today in this direction by introducing compulsory subjects on moral values and ethical standards for students of grade one to twelve, then it will take at least three generations to change the mentality and the way we think and do certain things. 

Now I will like to raise questions to our professional friends around the world that how do we perceive corruption in the professional world? Does it make an impact in our professional lives?  I solicit your answer for the enlightenment of readers of this blog.

Suman Saran Sinha
A pursuer of logical quest