Corruption is widespread in India. India is ranked 85 out of 17 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2014. Corruption is one of the chief enemies of state and almost every time it hinders growth and development.
Corruption in India is the main problem since Independence . Former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi once said that ,”Only 15 paisa of every rupee spent ever reached the poor for whom it was meant.” Being stated by Prime Minister it badly reflects corruption in India.
Mostly underdeveloped and developing countries are greatly affected by corruption. Corruption is closely associated with bribery which means given or take profit for some illegal work. Corruption has progressively involved in every sphere of Indian society. Corruption is a cancer that is not restricted to any particular political party. It infects the whole system. In India, people with an honest image are very few. In India, There are a bunch of scams in recent past in the Indian administration .
“At senior levels, it (corruption) is usually a result of strong nexus between politicians and civil servants and, at lower levels, it is a result of poor systems and ill-defined public service levels, “the government paper prepared by the Union Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions for the occasion of Civil Services Day.
Corruption is an age old phenomenon and can be seen everywhere now a days. It is like a cancer in public life, which has not become to rampant and perpetuated overnight, but is course of time. The word corruption means destruction, ruining or spoiling a society or nation. A corrupt society is characterized by immorality and lack of fear or respect for the law. It is the abuse of public power for private gain. Corruption comes under many different guises like bribery, extortion, fraud. misappropriations of public goods, nepotism i.e. favouring family members for jobs and contracts.
We always read about corruption in news or watch on television. They always sadden me and make me think, why would one want to indulge in such behaviour? What is the thinking behind this? Don’t they have any moral or ethics? I always wanted to find answers to these questions and that is why I chose this subject for my assignment. Through this assignment I shall try to uncover meaning , reasons and solutions for preventing corruption.
2. DEFINITION OF CORRUPTION
There is no clear and precise definition of corruption. However the most popular and simple definition of corruption is give by world bank which says that, corruption is ‘abuse of public power for private benefit”.
‘ Section :2.1
‘Oxford dictionary’ defines corruption as “dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power, typically involving bribery”. Thus this definition links corruption primarily to bribery and dishonest behaviour.
Apart from these , Modern social science defines corruption in terms of three basic models.
‘ Section 2.2
First, corruption is related to the performance of the duties of a public office. According to ‘J. S. Nye’, corruption is” behaviour which deviates from the normal duties of a public role because of private-regarding (family, close private clique), pecuniary or status gains; or violates rules against the exercise of certain types of private-regarding influence. This includes such behaviour as bribery; nepotism and misappropriation (illegal appropriation of public resources for private regarding uses)”
In this definition ‘Nye’ clearly explains what he means by dishonest conduct and fraudulent behaviour as defined in ‘oxford dictionary’. Basically it states the same thing as explained in world bank definition that is, abuse of power for private gain.
‘ Section 2.3
Second, corruption is related to the concept of exchange derived from the theory of market. Jacob Van Klaveren argues that the bureaucrat views his public office as an enterprise from which to extract extra-legal income. As a consequence, the civil servants’ compensation package “does not depend on an ethical evaluation of his usefulness for the common good but precisely upon the market situation and his talents for finding the point of maximal gain on the public’s demand curve”. In an economy pervaded by high levels of government regulations, civil servants may devote most of their time and effort to assisting entrepreneurs in evading state laws and statutes. In exchange the civil servants are paid extra-legal income.
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Finally, the definition of corruption is couched in terms of the public interest, as argued by ‘Carl Friedrich’:
“the pattern of corruption may therefore be said to exist whenever a power holder who is charged with doing certain things, that is a responsible functionary or office holder, is by monetary or other rewards, such as the expectation of a job in the future, induced to take actions which favour whoever provides the reward and thereby damage the group or organization to which the functionary belongs, more specifically the government”.
3.CORRUPTION IN ANCIENT INDIA
Corruption is not a recent phenomenon. It has persisted for centuries. Corruption promotes illegality, subjectivity, inequality, injustice, inefficiency and inconsistency in administrative conduct and behaviour. It destroys the moral fabric of society and erodes the faith of the common man in the legitimacy of the political and administrative set up.
There are several references to the prevalence of official corruption in ancient India. But the text that provides an elaborate description is the ‘Arthashastra’ of ‘Kautilya’. This sophisticated and detailed book is essentially prescriptive or normative in nature, belonging to a genre of literature that suggests what the state ought to be and not what it really was. Nevertheless, one should realise that norms are prescribed only when digressions exist. This confirms the fact that corruption was rampant enough in ancient India to necessitate expert advice on how to tame it.
‘Kautilya’ was a minister in the Kingdom of ‘Chandragupta Maurya’ (324/321’297 Before the Common Era). He expressed his views on a range of issues including state, war, social structures, diplomacy, ethics, and politics. He believed that ‘men are naturally fickle minded’ and are comparable to ‘horses at work who exhibit constant change in their temper’. This means that honesty is not a virtue that would remain consistent lifelong and the temptation to make easy gains through corrupt means can override the trait of honesty any time. Similarly, he compared the process of generation and collection of revenue (by officials) with honey or poison on the tip of the tongue, which becomes impossible not to taste. Based on such sweeping, generalisations about the nature of human beings, he prescribed the superintendents of government departments in relation to the place, time, nature, output of work. All this is perhaps indicative of widespread corruption in the Kingdom’s administration at various levels.
Corruption is so obvious, and yet so mysterious. Even ‘Kautilya’ reflected serious concerns about lack of clarity in the operations of the world of the corrupt. Illegal transactions were so shrouded in mist that he compared corrup to fish moving under water and the virtual impossibility of detecting when exactly the fish is drinking water. He also noted that while it is possible to ascertain the movements of bird flying in the sky, it is difficult to gauge the corrupt activities of government officials.
During Mauryan times, superintendents were the highest officials, a position they received for possessing the desired ‘individual capacity’ and adequate ‘ministerial qualifications’. Given the general emphasis of ‘Kautilya’ on observing ethics and morality in relation to the functioning of a state, it seems the selection process would have involved not just a scrutiny of the educational attainments but also the right kind of aptitude for the job including traits of honesty and impartiality. This shows that despite the greatest care taken in recruiting officials, corrupt persons made their way into the system.
‘Kautilya’ was a great administrative thinker of his times. As he argued, too much of personal interaction or union among the higher executives leads to departmental goals being compromised and leads to corruption. This is because human emotions and personal concerns act as impediments to the successful running of an administration, which is basically a rule based impersonal affair. Similarly, dissension among executives when team effort is required results in a poor outcome. ‘Kautilya’ suggested that the decline in output and corruption can be curbed by promoting professionalism at work. The superintendents should execute work with the subordinate officials such as accountants, writers, coin-examiners, treasurers and military officers in a team spirit. Such an effort creates a sense of belonging among members of the department who start identifying and synchronising their goals with the larger goals of the organisation, thereby contributing to the eventual success of the state.
‘Kautilya’ provides a comprehensive list of 40 kinds of embezzlement. In all these cases, the concerned functionaries such as the treasurer , the prescriber , the receiver , the payer, the person who caused the payment and the ministerial servants were to be separately interrogated. In case any of these officials were to lie, their punishment was to be enhanced to the level meted out to the chief officer mainly responsible for the crime. After the enquiry, a public proclamation was to be made asking the common people to claim compensation in case they were aggrieved and suffered from the embezzlement. Thus, ‘Kautilya’ was concerned about carrying the cases of fraud to their logical conclusion.
The Arthashastra states that an increase in expenditure and lower revenue collection was an indication of embezzlement of funds by corrupt officials. ‘Kautilya’ was sensitive enough to acknowledge the waste of labour of the workforce involved in generating revenues. He defined self enjoyment by government functionaries as making use of or causing others to enjoy what belongs to the king. He was perhaps alluding to the current practice of misusing government offices for selfish motives such as unduly benefitting the self, family members, friends and relatives either in monetary or non-monetary form which harms the larger public good.
‘Kautilya’ was also not unaware of corruption in the judicial administration. He prescribed the imposition of varying degrees of fines on judges trying to proceed with a trial without evidence, or unjustly maintaining silence, or threatening, defaming or abusing the complainants, unnecessarily delaying the trial or giving unjust punishments. This shows that there were incidents of judicial pronouncements being biased, favouring one party over the other .
He expected judges to be more receptive to the complaints and be fair in delivering justice.
‘Kautilya’ prescribed reliance on an elaborate network for detecting financial and judicial corruption. Spies were recruited for their honesty and good conduct. They were to keep a watch even over the activities of accountants and clerks for reporting cases of fabrication of accounts . On successful detection of embezzlement cases, ‘Kautilya’ advocated hefty fines to be imposed apart from the confiscation of ill-earned hordes. If a functionary was charged and proved even of a single offence, he was made answerable for all other associated offences related to the case. Since taxes paid by the people are utilised for their welfare, any loss of revenue affects the welfare of the society at large. This is precisely the reason why ‘Kautilya’ explicitly argued that the fines imposed should be ‘in proportion to the value of work done, the number of days taken, the amount of capital spent and the amount of daily wages paid’.
The threat of fines being imposed and subsequent public embarrassment do deter judicial officials, to some extent, from resorting to corrupt practices. But ‘Kautilya’ was proactive in laying down traps to catch public functionaries with loose morals and inclination to resort to bribery or seek undue favour. The strategy he prescribed was for secret agents to take a judge into confidence through informal channels and ask him to pronounce judgments favouring their party in return for a payment. If the deal was fixed, the judge was treated as accepting the bribe and prosecuted accordingly. This is basically what we call nowadays sting operation .
Interestingly, ‘Kautilya’ also dealt with the concept of whistleblowers. Any informant who provided details about corruption was awarded.
‘Kautilya’ also warned at the same time about providing wrong information or not being able to prove the accusations. He advocated punishment for such informants so that the tool could not be misused for settling personal scores and harassing genuine officials. While such provisions would certainly make people think twice before levelling accusations, the threat of punishment was too harsh to help people root out the corrupt.
In an atmosphere of all round corruption, honesty becomes a virtue and not a desired duty. ‘Kautilya’ argued for advertising the cases of increase in revenue due to the honest and dedicated efforts of the superintendents by giving rewards and promotions. Bestowing public honour creates a sense of pride and boosts the motivation and morale of honest officials. They act as role models for ideal youngsters who wish to join the administration and serve the state.
‘Kautilya’ also proposed a number of measures to avoid cases of corruption arising at all. Several positions in each department were to be made temporary. Permanency for such positions was to be reserved as an award granted by the king to those who help augment revenue rather than eating up hard earned resources. ‘Kautilya’ also favoured the periodic transfer of government servants from one place to another. This was done with the intention of not giving them enough time to pick holes in the system and manipulate it to their advantage.
It is interesting to note that the superintendents could not undertake any new initiative (except remedial measures against imminent danger) without the knowledge of the king. Kautilya, therefore, laid emphasis on some kind of an accountability mechanism. Apart from using the services of spies for unearthing cases of fraud, ‘Kautilya’ also talked about an intra-departmental, self-scrutinising mechanism under the headship of chief officer to detect and deter imminent cases of corruption.
The Arthashastra of ‘Kautilya’ thus shows that the ancient system of governance and administration was quite contemporary in operational guidelines when dealing with corruption. It also quite convincingly demonstrates that corruption is not an exclusive feature of modern times alone. The fact that the menace has survived and thrived through the ages speaks volumes about its endurance. Governments of all historical eras have recognised its illegality and devised legal instruments to tackle the problem, but they have not been able to overcome its spread as well as acceptability in society. If corruption has persisted through centuries, what is it that has stopped administrative systems from eradicating it?
Was ‘Kautilya’ right in his generalisation that ‘humans are fickle-minded’? The majority would disagree. Interestingly, however, even Kautilya, despite having such an understanding of human nature and behaviour, never used it to justify corruption. Rather, he realised its inevitability but chose to remain positive and committed to root it out in the administration through elaborate and strict measures. This is the real significance of the Arthashastra as far as the issue of corruption in contemporary times is concerned.
4.CORRUPTION IN INDIAN ADMINISTRATION
Corruption is a global phenomenon and it is omnipresent. Corruption has progressively increased and is now extensive in our society. Corruption in India is a consequence of the nexus between bureaucracy, politics and criminals. As the nation grows, the corrupt also grows to invent new methods of cheating the government and public
4.1 NATURE OF CORRUPTION
Under Indian constitution, the government consists of three branches: the legislative, the executive, and the judiciary with clear mandate for independent functioning of each branch. Therefore, for good governance each of these units must function with integrity and efficiency . The legislators are elected representatives of the people ; their prime job is to frame laws. The executive branch consisting of ministers, bureaucrats, and the whole government machinery is expected to implement the laws framed By the legislative assemblies. Judiciary is impartial and independent body which protects the spirit of the constitution and punishes offences to the law.
‘ Corruption in the Legislative Branch
The behaviour of Indian legislators both at the Centre and in the States leaves a lot to be desired. Every time they act motivated by personal gain ;they betray their constituencies that elected them. Corruption in the assemblies as seen from this perspective implies giving cash for votes, taking money or other benefits to ask questions, framing rules under the influence of big corporate houses at the cost of common people, etc. When the government is running on thin majority, potential defectors can take the government to ransom. Criminalization of politics is yet another side of corruption. In the parliament, there are always some MPs with criminal records, many with serious charges, against them. It also highlights an area where electoral reform is urgently needed so that criminals don’t enter in the parliament or state assemblies.
‘ Corruption in the Executive Branch
Ministers are at the top of the hierarchy of the executive branch. The most blatant recent case of corruption at the highest level is the 2G spectrum scam which forced telecom minister, A. Raja to resign and is now in jail. But such exposures and trials are rare; often only the smaller fishes get caught.
The report card of the rest of the bureaucracy is also not very good either. Governance in India is characterized by a lack of transparency in rules, complicated procedures and a bureaucracy that enjoys broad discretionary power. Thus, Bureaucratic corruption thrives on red-tape, complicated procedures, and discretionary power. There is an exclusive process of decision making, overly centralized government, and the absence of effective control mechanisms. Bureaucratic corruption pervades the Indian administrative system with widespread practices of bribery, nepotism, and misuse of official positions and resources. The Bertelsmann Foundation 2008 report states that India is characterized by a deeply rooted patronage system and pervasive corruption at all levels of the polity and administration. The 2006 World Bank Enterprise Survey also confirms the prevalence of bureaucratic and administrative corruption in the country.
‘ Corruption in the Judiciary
Independence of the judiciary is guaranteed by the Constitution. However, political interference in judicial decisions involving powerful individuals, just as in investigation, is a sure possibility. In spite of the various legal provisions in place, the appointment of judges is not always free from political interference. High court and Supreme Court judges can only be removed through impeachment in the parliament; this makes fighting corruption in higher judiciary rather impractical. Recent impeachment of Justice Saumitra Sen in the Rajya Sabha is a rare event. There are other cases of corruption at higher level such as that of Justice Dinakaran of Sikkim High Court and justice Nirmal Yadav of the Uttarakhand High Court. The Judges (Inquiry) Act, 1968, prescribes judicial inquiry followed by impeachment. In the case involving Supreme Court Judge Justice V. Ramaswamy, the inquiry indicted him but the impeachment motion fell through in Parliament in 1992.
The statement of Supreme Court lawyer, Shanti Bhusan that many former Chief Justices of India were corrupt has given a new twist to judicial corruption. The huge backlog of cases (there are over 3 crore pending cases), slow and complicated court procedures are another course of corruption in the judiciary.
‘ Political Corruption
People’s trust in democratic processes is seriously undermined by opaque financing of electoral processes, various forms of corrupt practices, and misuse of power. Although politicians are regularly involved in major corruption scandals, investigations of their activities are rare and conviction of politicians and civil servants are rarer. Circumstantial evidences of buying votes of legislators with bribe or promises of ‘lucrative positions’ are fairly common in Indian politics. According to a 2009 Global Integrity report, the country struggles with promoting transparency and accountability in the financing of political parties and candidates. For instance, there are currently no regulations that require parties or candidates to disclose donations. Lack of transparency in electoral funding and entry of criminals into the electoral process are two major sources of political corruption that is at the root of several other corrupt practices in the country.
4.2 CAUSES OF CORRUPTION.
‘ Emergence of a political leaders who believes in interest oriented rather than nation-oriented programmes and policies.
‘ Corruption is caused as well as increased because of the change in the value system and ethical qualities of men who administer. The ideals such as morality, service and honesty are regarded as outdated.
‘ Tolerance of people towards corruption, complete lack of intense public outcry against corruption and the absence of a strong public forum to oppose corruption allow corruption to reign over people.
‘ Vast size of population coupled with widespread illiteracy and the poor economic infrastructure lead to endemic corruption in public life.
‘ In a highly inflationary economy, low salaries of government officials compel them to resort to corruption. Graduates from Indian Institutes of Management with no experience draw a far handsome salary than what government secretaries draw.
‘ Complex laws and procedures deter common people from seeking help from the government.
‘ Election time is a time when corruption is at its peak. Big industrialists fund politicians to meet high cost of election and ultimately to seek personal favour. Bribery to politicians buys influence, and bribery by politicians buys votes. In order to get elected, politicians bribe poor, illiterate people.
4.3 CONSEQUENCES OF CORRUPTION .
It is as much a moral as a development issue. It can distort entire decision- making processes on investment projects and other commercial transactions, and the very social and political fabric of societies. The following are some of the consequences of corruption:
‘ Economic Development:
Some statistical evidence has now been showing that corruption is associated with (i) public investment; (ii) lower government revenues; (iii) lower expenditures on operations and maintenance; and (iv) resulting lower quality of public infrastructure. The evidence also shows that corruption increases public investment by making it more expensive, while reducing its productivity. The Corruption also acts as an additional tax on investment. In India, current corruption levels mean that the corruption tax on investment is very high. The impact of corruption on the quality of public infrastructure is all too clearly visible in towns and cities of India. The Public Works Department and the State Electricity Boards which are largely responsible for the maintenance of roads and management of power distribution respectively are among the worst corrupt government departments in India. Corruption also reduces the government’s resources and hence its capacity for investment, since tax revenues are depleted by tax evasion. This has two adverse effects: first, shifts away from investments in development areas occur, as bribe-takers are less likely to invest in activities with significant positive social benefits like education and health. Secondly, overall investment levels may fall, since conspicuous consumption or flight of illegal earnings is probably higher than legal earnings. The high potential for capital flight of illegal earnings makes corruption more likely to be associated with a negative impact on the balance of payments.
‘ Political System :
Politically, corruption increases injustice and disregard for rule of law. Basic human rights and freedom comes under threat, as key judicial decisions are based on the extent of corrupt bribes given to court officials rather than on the innocence or guilt of the parties concerned. Police investigations and arrests may be based on political victimisation or personal vendettas rather than on solid legal grounds. Commenting on the socio-political consequences of corruption the Supreme Court of India observed that corruption in a civilised society was a disease like cancer. If not detected in time it was sure to turn the polity malignant leading to ‘disastrous consequences’. The apex court said a sociopolitical system exposed to such a dreaded communicable disease was likely to crumble under its own weight.
5. REMEDIES OF ADMINISTRATIVE CORRUPTION
Some suggestions have been made to combat the extent of corruption in Indian administration, some of these are examined below.
1. Administrative procedure should be simplified and delays eliminated
It is one of the main causes of corruption in India. To reduce and control corruption in administration it is necessary to eliminate such type of procedures and delays. Office procedures should be simplified and level of hierarchy reduced. New pattern of decision making process ought to be evolved. We should have single window system and effective O and M machinery for governmental functioning.
2. Declaration of Assets
Law should be passed to make it obligatory for all ministers, MPs, MLAs, all levels of public servants to declare their assets owned by them, their spouses and children every year. These should be made available to everyone who wants to pay for it. Any falsification should be declared as a punishable offence.
3. Investigating agency should have teeth and Autonomy
The most important thing is to have an autonomous and effective agency to investigate into corruption cases, the present form of Central Bureau Investigation, Central and State Vigilance commission is not having proper autonomy to function effectively
4. Separate Courts for Corruption Cases
Separate courts should be established to deal with corruption cases in India.
5. Creation of Administrative Courts
Administrative courts should be created for redressal of citizens grievances against administrative authorities. These courts should deal with administrative law for trial of cases of disputes between citizens and administration. It should be separated from ordinary court.
6. Alternate to Bureaucratic
Model Our present form of bureaucracy is inefficient, rule oriented, neutral, dysfunctional, and also highly corrupt. We have to find out a new model of bureaucracy Alternate to old model, United Kingdom’s agency type model system should be introduced in all important departments.
7. Improving good governance parameters
Our administration should have improved good governance parameters. It can be helpful to minimize the extent of corruption in Indian administration.
8. Electoral Reforms
The biggest cause for corruption in today’s India is mainly because of politicians and political parties. It is an urgent need to evolve a new strategy, and code of conduct to regulate the political party activities. Strong amendment should be made to people’s representation Act.
9. Decentralization of Administration
Decentralized administration helps to reduce the corruption. Because it takes decision making process closer to beneficiaries at bottom level. Devolution of more powers to local self government institution is mandatory for reducing corruption in India.
10. Administration should be made Accountable
In India we have a big government performing enormous functions. Decisions are taken at various levels of administration where use of discretionary power may be involved. It is difficult for legislators to exercise control over administration and also Judiciary is bogged down by heaps of mounting arrears of cases. So the principle of accountability does not work in the desired manner. We have to ensure accountability at all levels of administration.
11. Strong Civil Society
We needed strong civil society that takes initiative instead of depending helplessly on politicians and officials to fight against corruption.
12. Creation of strong Public opinion against corruption
Public opinion must be created against corrupt politicians and officers unless people take up cudgels against corruption, no amount of anti corruption measures can succeed.
13. Establishment of Strong, Efficient Lokpal at Centre and Lokayukta in States
Establishment of strong lokpal at centre and lokayukta in states are need of the hour, because at present we are not having Independent, empowered, accountable institution to investigate the complaints of corruption cases and prosecute the guilty.
14. State Funding of election
State funding of elections expenses may encourage honourable and well meaning individuals can enter into politics.
I used following articles as references.