Guest Post by Sivakumar Surampudi, Shiv’s Third Eye
When Sanjay asked me to write a guest post for “No Bribe” on its first anniversary, ironically, I wished I could write an obituary instead. Yes, an obituary for corruption, fulfilling the vision of his blog!
Buoyed by the recent economic growth, all of us have an aspiration to see India as a developed country soon. Investment in infrastructure is considered the best bet to get there. Probably, we will get some distance with that strategy; but, I submit, only rooting out corruption can actually get us to the finishing line. For, corruption has the evil ability to destroy the nation before any benefit of progress reaches the common man.
But corruption is neither a new nor a simple phenomenon to conceive of its ending! In fact, Vedas called corruption a hydra-headed monster! Its heads are bribery, exploitative profit, vested interest, naked selfish desires, hypocrisy in the form of false promises, pride, false ego and calumny. It also takes the other forms like, officiousness, sycophancy, treachery, wickedness etc. If not controlled with true knowledge containing permanent truths, it spreads very fast in politics, economics and various organs of the state and institutions of the society.
With such an overwhelming description, it is not possible to start exploring end of corruption. So, I chose a simpler definition articulated by Transparency International “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain”. Looking at it this way, the solution has just two components. Deal with power. Deal with gain.
One can deal with “power” by improving transparency and increasing accountability. Information Technology can improve transparency. We have experienced that from every day examples like railway ticket reservations to mega illustrations like public monitoring of Government projects. Media can play a key role in diffusing the power by raising awareness of people through investigative journalism. This helps instill fear among the corrupt, and also build courage among common people to fight corruption. Media can also show case ordinary people who fought and achieved extra ordinary things. Instead of feeling cynical and helpless, common man will then start blowing whistles! The common man could also be aided by novel tools of expression viz. our own examples such as Gandhigiri and Zero value currency notes or the famous Citizen Initiative for Constant Light from Turkey. Ultimately, the problem will be solved when democracy deals with corruption; after all Kahlil Gibran did say many years ago, “so the wrong-doer cannot do wrong without the hidden will of you all”…
Turning to dealing with “gain”, paying more to those in power is an obvious solution, whether it is done as is by raising pay levels, or hedge through performance based pay that is commonly used in business! In effect, what could be lost if caught while taking bribe, should be more than what one gains through that bribe for a job done. In reality, the playing field is more complex than that. The minds of some of the greedy Wall Street executives became corrupt not because they were underpaid. Nor do many positions of power operate as “markets” to design pay per performance. We need to invoke the social norms to deal with this more complex situation. Ethics & Values must find more emphasis in education. After all that’s where it all begins.
How do we deal with systemic corruption, that is deep rooted; almost institutionalised? Sequence and eliminate corruption sector by sector, start with education and taxation? Two sectors with potentially the biggest impact!
With three cheers to “No Bribe” on its first anniversary in accomplishing its mission….