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

18 comments:

AlexWolf said...

I disagree with a low corruption rating for Canada since Quebec is included.

I fought corruption many years ago in Quebec. I refused bribes for keeping silent. Quickly l became a target and paid a very heavy price.

Amongst others, I was charged with a death threats (under indictment to make it a serious offence, like a felony in the US), to silence and discredit me. The Crown put 3 attorneys in Court, I can only assume to accommodate the important people who accused me.

My attorney did not challenge the credibility of my accusers with the materials and witnesses I provided to him. I was convicted and the news went across Canada, including by newswires. The attorney later abandoned my appeal, without informing me. Eventually I was acquitted - but only 5 years later. I am a professional, so the consequences were huge. Most of the Quebec media refused to publish my acquittal, and no newswires went out concerning it.

I sued in civil court some of the crooks and their associates, and then the judge disregarded my acquittal - which was final and the defendants were unrelated, so he had no right to do it. To be fair, in another civil case (which I won) another judge respected it, but it was a much smaller case.

I also sued that criminal attorney. The trial took place last May (2013). It was then that he revealed that he made a strategic decision not to attack the credibility of my accusers, because they were important people. His lawyers (supplied by the Quebec Bar) argued that this was the right thing for him to do.

This is the hidden face of Quebec. I was born in Poland, then a communist country and it was much, much cleaner.

To this day, to work as a professional, I earn my living outside Canada. Others destroyed by the rotten system are not lucky enough to be able to do this.

Finally, I think Quebec may be getting cleaner, in that in the recent years the corruption in Quebec is receiving media attention, first with the Gomery Inquiry and now with the Charbonneau Commission. It is much too soon to tell what will be the effects.

Victor Convaneiro, Brazil said...

Suman,

it's amazing, when developed, world, invented, corruption, to take business advantage, from undeveloped countries and now when these countries use, what they learned , they become evil nations and because the WAR, option, isn't comfortable anymore, the only option is GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT, so in peace, we can think of a solution, while acommodating, everybody's interests, via COOPERATION.

Hans Traff, Sweden said...

Very well written commentary and I agree 100% wholeheartedly. It is all about the money.

Watched an interesting French documentary “Dirty Money, Financial Poison” by Nicolas Glimois a while back. We are all familiar with trafficking of all kinds. What is less well known, is how, for years now, powerful mafia organizations and their untold wealth have been colonizing all over the world even the best-intentioned democracies with their criminal earnings. The geopolitics of organized crime is shaping the world of tomorrow. And the big banks are following in their footsteps.

The largest and most sophisticated of these criminal enterprises don’t trick banks into laundering their money — they partner with that small segment of the international banking and business community that re circulates drug profits and cash from other illicit trades, like black-market arms dealing, human trafficking, child labor, and illegal animal hunting and poaching. And so do many of the large international corporations. Bribing, using slave labor, destroying the environment, millions of jobs are temporary, and the companies getting away with only symbolic taxes. Some examples. We all remember Union Carbide Bhopal disaster, BP, Dole bananas, Nestle, Enron, Haliburton, Lehman Brothers to mention a few.

A couple of banking examples; Wachovia Bank laundered $378,400,000,000 of drug cartel money, HSBC Bank failed to monitor £38,000,000,000,000 of money with potentially dirty criminal ties, United Bank of Switzerland illegally manipulated LIBOR interest rates on a regular basis for purposes of profiteering.

So, some interesting questions arise. Why do we continue to push for Quality and Leadership? While at the same time many of those big corporations with fancy written policies and manuals do not give (excuse my language) a shit about principals, morals and ethics. I have hundreds of facts listed through the years.

Bertrand Marie, France said...

The way we perceive corruption in the professional world is related to the way we see education and moral values in our society.

Terina Allen, USA said...

Interesting question Suman - thank you for asking it.

Corruption in the professional world has to do with unethical behavior and a lack of integrity or what we perceive to be unethical and/or illegal behaviors and decisions.

Yes, I believe it has a deep impact on our professional lives. When an ethical culture is not advanced, corruption is more likely to occur and persist. Leaders at the highest levels should be focused on three things

1. Trust

Leaders need to mind their own integrity and credibility as well as those around them. Don't comprise the standards for our own benefit and think no one is watching. Be in it for the good of the organization and the people, not for our own personal gain.

1. Behavior

Do we as leaders reward and recognize results over behaviors? We get what we measure, what we pay attention to. If we reward results without concern for how those results are achieved, then we could be setting up a culture for corruption. Leaders need to ask what are the "means" to those results and do the ends justify the means? I recommend we focus on and reward/acknowledge the behavior just as much, if not more, as the achieved results for our organizations.

1. Accountability

Who is asked to "care" about the actions/behaviors of our team members, and what happens when/if these actions do not align with our standards? If there are no standards for professionalism and ethical conduct and no one is asked to care about it, then a culture of corruption could easily take hold.

I have focused a lot on the topical advancing an ethical culture and ethical leadership and decision making. When an ethical culture is being advanced and distinguishable standards are in place, corruption could still take hold, but the odds are significantly decreased.

Jacek Dukat, Poland said...

It is happening quite often on markets I operate. Especially if there are tenders with public companies / offices.

Ratneshwar Prasad RSinh, India said...

YOU ARE RIGHT IN PRESENT SITUATION IN GLOBAL

Sushena de Simon, Sri Lanka said...

Corruption has reached serious levels and whatever steps are taken will not be effective until one learns contentment---Here I quote the Bible--success is not more things, but contentment with the things we have (I Tim 6:6).

Ehikioya A., Nigeria said...

Liked the discussion.

Vishwanath Rai, India said...

Thanks for opening a contemporary topic for discussions. Corruption is like a virus and no part of the world is isolated from this virus. Therefore, professional world is no exception and this virus is rife there too. To win competitors, what is happening around the world today is an open secret. Every endeavour is made to win, temptations of money & power being made inclusive. If that be the case, then obviously this deadly VIRUS has its impact not only on our professional life but personal life too.

Sadrollah Alborzi, California said...

If control system is used efficently corruption will decrease.Of course the control system should be used by healthy persons who believe and committed in moral and ethics .Ofcourse corruption in a society will make people to be disappointment to the government,management,conditions and as result to the society.If punishment will be serious,this might help people to be hopeful,otherwise if not taken serious actions for corruptions,the consequence will be a part of culture of organizations and societies Responsibilities should be given to persons who have highest moral,ethics and feel responsible and commitment to country and citizens.In healthy organizations and countries people have high hope to life and future,the productivity is higher.

Peter Papaemmanouil, Australia said...

Corruption has a different definition to different people in different regions of the world
While we are working to implement ethics as a subject in our universities that word ethics is not in the definition of the other world
What it means at the end to that other world is play the game or if you do not play the game the game will be played for you at your peril

Richard Potts, North Carolina said...

I own two businesses: management consulting & real estate (with our daughter) and unfortunately have seen way too much unprofessional, unethical, and sometimes illegal behavior in both professions. Results from various surveys dealing with changing attitudes and behavior are alarming and sad.

Sidhen Naidoo, Australia said...

Many people succeed in the world on such behavior because of personal greed and wealth. This behavior and habits are set by like minded leaders who dont walk their talk and create the false perception that their actions are for the benefit for the entity they represent and for mankind.

Even countries are guilty of this and the majority of the population suffer as the consequence of generations of poor leadership. This has been recently been evident in the Arab uprising and European governments.Other governments are experiencing such problems but are falsely stating the actual performance of their government.

What the world need is more honest leaders that are born in each country and can collectively challenge such evil practices.

Klass Hette Buiteveld, Netherlands said...

I liked your discussion.

Mohammed Badawy, Saudi Arabia said...

I liked your discussion.

Standard Capital, India said...

I was used to listen this phrase that if you are satisfied with your work at the end of the day you are a happy man. But it seems this is no longer true. You need more than that which money can buy. So the change comes as follows: at the end of the day how much money you have in your pocket does matter. Now if you are not a very truthful person, if does not matter from where and how it reaches you. But if you think honesty is best policy then you will have a satisfied day but same may not be the case with your family hence not easy to play a honest cowboy.

As per my own case: I prefer not to deal with such people who may like to bribe. with god grace, I having enough to look after my family.

Can not say for those, who are not that lucky.

Prasanta Roy, India said...

The subject of corruption, is indeed is real mean in professional segments, but we professional single handed could not able to change, need an enthusiastically team effort of the professional's, which may generate the power to get rid of the same. else day by day we people may in the option of danger of corruption. Which will create the prevention of success.

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