Saturday, July 20, 2024

No accountability

Once known as a people with high moral and ethical standards, our society is slowly sinking into the depths of ignominy because of rampant corruption. It is a painful scenario. This generation has brought disrepute to our forefathers who had assiduously built a formidable structure based on high standard of morality and ethical code. It is surprising how quickly we have fallen victim to the depths of ill repute. While talking of corruption in public conduct, we invariably hold political leaders and bureaucrats responsible for moral turpitude and depravity. But this generalization is unjustified and unacceptable. Essentially, it is attributable to under-developed personality that allows political leaders to exploit the situation. A society with strong and independent personality does not succumb to moral turpitude that easy. When corruption becomes a social phenomenon, it is a signal that the civil society is diseased. High standards of morality are not enforced through legislation or prerogatives; it is the gift of advanced culture and philosophy. Abandoning traditional learning that infused austerity and contentment as virtues composing a wholesome living is a big loss we have inflicted on ourselves. It is sensible to separate religion from politics if we want good governance, but ethics as integral component of faith cannot be separated from good governance. In that sense religion does have a place in functional politics. Traditional learning forms the basis of standard ethical code, which in turn churns up the philosophy of good governance. Unfortunately we discarded that healthy part of our tradition under the mad rush for modern civilizational pattern. In the process, we lost our ethical and moral moorings. How can we expect an ethics-based society to come up when the very roots of ethics, meaning religion, remain eroded? It is this scenario that has given rise to double-edged corruption; double-edged because the indicted person first denies being corrupt and then castigates the social system for indicting him. Today there are many cases of corruption pertaining to various government departments pending proper disposal. Top officers of the state are involved. In fact we have reached a stage when even many of the corrupt feel nauseated with corruption, for they may be its beneficiaries at one point but are now its victims. The range of corruption is vast from embezzlement to misuse of power, and what not. Hardly any sector of social and public service is left out of corruption. Today it has become the overall state of affairs in the state. Successive governments have allowed the pot of corruption to boil without even making a serious effort to keep it in check. Now the contagion has spread from top to bottom. Apart from the reason of lack of a sense of social responsibility and awareness of moral and ethical bindings, total laxity in accountability has immensely contributed to the outspread of corruption. This brings us to a debate on the question of shortening the circle of legal protection to a corrupt state employee. Legal fight over a corruption case is usually protracted and time consuming. Whether the indicted person is punished or not is a different matter. Prolonging the accountability to indefinite period considerably dilutes public interest and trust in the judicial process. Imagine in a state where many officers are implicated in cases of corruption, what will be the standard of overall governance and administration? In other parts of the world corruption cases are dealt with in accordance with the law of the land most expeditiously so that a wrong signal of authorities conniving at corruption is not spread. Here we find the reverse of it and we take shelter behind outdated and redundant juridical intervention. Why not the system be reformed to meet new requirements of present-day society? Reforming the educational system by introducing tradition-based study of ethical code simultaneously with adopting strict norms of accountability should be the two-pronged strategy for eradicating corruption in the entire administrative and governance structure of the state. Time and tide wait for no one. Keeping tryst with corruption is keeping tryst with disaster.