Corruption and Institutions

“Corruption refers to the act of misuse and abuse of power especially by those in the government for personal gains either pecuniary or a favour”. According to Transparency International (TI), India ranks very high (85 out of 181 countries) in the Asian region. Although the situation is lot better than 2013 when the country was ranked 94, India has a long way to go to tackle this perverse phenomenon. According to the TI Survey in wider Asian region, India has one of the highest incidences of bribery and use of personal connections to access key public services such as health and education. According to the same survey, state services particularly courts, police, revenue department, and hospitals are the most corrupt bodies.

2nd ARC says: Corruption= Monopoly+ Discretion+ Secrecy- Transparency-Accountability

In India, corruption, abuse of office is aggravated by 3 factors:

  • Colonial legacy of unchallenged authority, propensity to exercise power arbitrarily – easy to deviate from ethical conduct.
  • Enormous asymmetry of power – economic, social inequalities, caste legacy, 90% workforce in unorganized sector
  • Policies in & after independence:
    • Unintended consequence of putting citizen at mercy of State.
    • Severe restrictions on economic activity
    • Excessive state control & near monopoly of govt in many sectors
    • Economy of scarcity

Kautilya on Corruption:

  • According to Kautilya, human nature poses corruption. It is human psyche. He said that as it is impossible not to taste the honey that finds at the trip of the tongue. So it is impossible for a government servant not to eat up at least a bit of the King’s revenue.
  • The servants are like fish in water. No one can tell that when fish drink water or how many water fish drink or whether drink or not-the rule is applied to the government servant also.
  • Kautilya posed that public servants are paid less than their duties. This causes them to support for fraud. Kautilya suggested appointing an officer (Guptehera) to look after them but it was observed that they themselves were involved in the corrupt practices because they were also paid less.

Remedies on Corruption:

  • In corruption cases, all the concern senior or junior officers in that particular department should be checked. The non-corrupt supporter of corruption should also be treated as corrupt-hiding a crime of corruption is another crime.
  • Working procedure of the officers should be supervised regularly. For that purpose a special supervisory officer should be appointed. This supervisor must be continuously in contact with the king so that the king should know about malpractices taking place in department.
  • In collection of revenue and other cesses, if there should be any difference, the concern officer or public servants should be enquired immediately.
  • The public servants should be transferred continuously from one department to another so that they should not get a chance to make corruption boldly in any new department.
  • There should be ‘Information Organization’. The informer should inform the king about corruption in any department. A person who is working as Informer should keep undisclosed.
  • The corrupt should be given punishment in the nature of money or jail. It should be depended upon the amount how much is fraud.

Implication of Corruption

Economic Loss:

  • Corruption in the public services sector carries high risks for conducting good businesses. Companies are likely to face unwanted red tapes, petty corruption, bribes for finalizing any procedures or deals.
  • Wrong allocation policies result in undervaluation of resources like Coal blocks, Hydrocarbon projects, Spectrum allocation. Eg. 2G scam, Coalgate.
  • Low tax collection due to collusive corruption. It results in low spending in the capital building.
  • Corruption of financial sector officials like Banks, the stock market erodes the strength of the economy. E.g. PNB scam, PMC scam, Harshad Mehta scandal

Hindrances to developmental Process:

  • The corruption and culture of under table money has Stalled project and thus inflates the overall cost of the project especially Road and Metro Project.

Against National security:

  • Corruption in the border security establishment creates problems of infiltration of arms, money, drugs etc.

Social Impact:

  • The loss of exchequer by the big scams is always recovered by higher taxes. It hampers intergenerational parity in taxation.
  • The corrupt system denies the poor a chance to improve their status rendering them eternally poor

Erosion of credibility:

  • It then leads to the loss of legitimacy of the political systems and gives free hand to non-state actors. E.g., Left-wing extremism

Derails SDG Targets:

  • Goal 16 of the SDGs which is “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all, and build effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels,”, which is highly relevant, is difficult to achieve if corruption in public services persists.
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