Friday, June 2, 2023

Development challenge

It has been said that a man is known by the company he keeps and a society is known by the customs it follows. As is the society so is the government. An ideal society never fails to elect an ideal government whereas a corrupt society always dreams of a system that goes well with its taste and temperament. Every elected government has a system of its own in which every employee is paid according to the nature of his job and it is the nature of a particular job which determines its status. A peon is paid less because he is less accountable and has a limited area of public service as compared to his officer. Similarly a top rung officer is not only heavily paid but also extremely privileged. In today’s highly corrupted society nobody seems conscious of his state of being or the jurisdiction of his activities. A truck driver wants to be a pilot, a nurse of a hospital wants to be the chief surgeon, a ward president or a village council member wants to be an MLA, etc. This illegitimate race of power and economic welfare has given birth to the deadly crime called corruption. By hook or by crook every layman wants to be an overnight millionaire. Money has overtaken every area of our life regardless to what is legal and what is not. Literally the word `corruption’ means lack of integrity or honesty, impairment of virtue and moral principles, or undermining moral integrity. The other meaning of corruption is the practice of offering something (usually money) in order to gain an illicit advantage. Political corruption is the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. An illegal act by an officeholder constitutes political corruption when the act is directly related to their official duties. Very familiar forms of corruption include bribery, extortion, nepotism and embezzlement. Corruption thus is the most shocking crime of the modern societies being committed by the modern civilized men, mostly by those who enjoy power. There can be no denial of the fact that corruption poses a serious development challenge. In the political realm it destabilizes institutions of democracy and good governance by violating or even subverting formal processes. Corruption in elections and in legislative bodies reduces accountability and corruption in public administration results in the unproductive provision of services. More commonly, corruption erodes the institutional capacity of government as procedures are disregarded, resources are siphoned off, and public offices are bought and sold. At the same time, corruption undermines the legitimacy of government and democratic values like trust and tolerance. Corruption deteriorates economic development by generating extensive distortions and inefficiency. In the private sector, corruption increases the cost of business through the price of illicit payments and the risk of breached agreements or detection. In the public sector corruption chokes the economic growth by diverting public investment into capital projects where bribes and kickbacks are overflowing. Corruption also reduces the quality of government services and infrastructure, and increases budgetary pressures on government. Sensitive areas like health, public safety, education etc when affected by corruption leave a society in disaster. Today we experience corruption in our everyday life. Under-the-table payments are made to seek undue favour, bribes are paid by suppliers to the industrialists in order to sell poor quality products, manufacturers are corrupted by the dealers, contributions are paid by wealthy parents to various educational, social and culture institutions in exchange for accepting their children, bribes are paid to obtain fake diplomas, financial and other advantages, mouth-watering perks are offered by the politicians to woo voters……. Examples are never-ending. Let’s also not forget that corruption breeds crime. Crimes flourish in a corrupt society because a corrupt society always tends to give a shielding treatment to criminals. A smuggler finds it trouble-free to relish in his deluxe world by greasing the palms of some high profile officers. An ordinary criminal becomes a professional one when he comes across the fact that through corruption he can make people’s inward eyes blind and prove himself innocent. When one’s inward eye sees nothing, his/her conscience becomes dead and he/she remains nothing but a walking and talking corpse and that is all what a criminal longs for. And when corruption, in any form, goes unabated, that vitiates the whole environment making it hellishly unbearable for others.