Why Corruption Cannot be Eliminated (by C.V. Subramaniam)

Why corruption cannot be eliminated.

Honesty at what cost?

I’n his book Revolution 2020 Chetan Bhagat talks of the euphoria, when a young intelligent boy gets motivated to fight corruption by exposing corrupt people and corrupt deals. The one page paper ‘Revolution 2020’ launched by him dies a quick death when it’s owner- publisher is harassed and totally devastated by acts of hooliganism by the gang set up by the corrupt neta. who ensures that his establishment is closed. The boy, who was trying to expose corruption I’n the noble profession of teaching (involving the setting up of a coaching class for students) is without a Job, finally.

The revolutionist, Raghav, after this set back, is prompted to think of the Revolution taking place sometime I’n 2120, instead of 2020 – no easy task, as he might have realized.

I’n the Tamil Serial Mutharam, Ranjani the IPS officer who passes out as the outstanding student, is elated at her first posting and vows to put an end to criminals and criminal activities. Her own juniors to whom she gives a passionate lecture about carrying out their duties honestly, scoffs at her ideas, for they have heard such speeches earlier too. But, Ranjani turns out to be different. When she comes to know her own father is engaged I’n criminal activities, she does not bother about family affections and arrests her own father. She also arrests and sends to jail another notorious criminal Samiyappan. Fearing that her honesty and sincerity are of no use in life, as an IPS officer, she opts for a peaceful family life, and resigns her job. Now, the return from jail of Samiyappan, after his term is over spells doom for her family life. Her entire family is ‘captured’ and she also gets beaten up by Samiyappan’s gang.

Both these stories reflect the hapless situation I’n which reformers or revolutionists could end up, increasing the chances of attacks on their lives. We have enough stories of what happens to whistle-blowers on corruption.

Can Corruption be eradicated at all?

The above incidents make one reflect on whether, even with a strong Lok Pal, it would be possible to eliminate or eradicate corruption altogether. And, there are more reasons for this not to happen.

Lack of seriousness

It has taken 44 years so far working on the Lok Pal Bill and differences have cropped up from different sources on some of the important clauses I’n the Bill. Currently the Bill is I’n the hands of a Standing Committee of Parliament. Nobody can guess what all hurdles the Bill has to face, before it becomes law. Justice Hegde had said that, ‘all of us are not born as human beings. There are many ‘inhuman beings’ in the society and therefore corruption continues to exist at all levels. He had also said that it is only a strong will power which would end corruption. The question is: how will you create that strong will power, why was no effort made for that to happen so far, and who will create that? Can the government at least try to match the will power of Anna Hazare who, at his age is ready to fast for the cause.

Coalition politics, easy excuse

True, I’n today’s regime of coalition politics, attempting to think of any kind of reform//revolution itself doesn’t make any real sense. On every silly issue, the coalition partners have differing views, let alone the opposition from the Opposition Parties.

Government inaction – Role of Anna Hazare

What has Anna Hazare achieved? Not more than a wake up call to the Government to fast-tract action on the Lok Pal Bill. So much the great, since that itself is an achievement to talk about. Government seems to be not I’n a hurry, since eradication of corruption, eradication of poverty etc. could continue to be phrases for catching votes.

Corruption – all pervading.

Corruption has enveloped all activities and there is no ‘negative list’ I’n this case. Mr. Vittal had once mentioned that, corruption is like God – it is everywhere, but nobody can catch it. Of course, while God is everywhere as a protector, corruption manifests I’n an entirely destructive form.

No attempt to check the bribe givers

If there is corruption, like clapping require two hands, here also, it is a two-hands play – that of the giver and the taker.

People generally accuse the takers for corruption, but what about the givers? Can all givers of corruption take a view that they will not indulge I’n this, come whatever may.
Could not corruption be eliminated thus? if there is no giver, then there is no taker and corruption will stand eliminated. Hence the ‘supply side’ of corruption needs to be attacked. I’n an article by Narendra Pani (ET 8 September 2012) titled ‘Should the bribe givers be granted Amnesty?’, he says, ‘Civil Society movements against Corruption are playing a hypocritical game by targeting alleged bribe takers, while it is well known that bribe givers have also greatly prospered by paying money.’ He further says, ‘while the bribe taker is painted I’n the darkest of colours,the bribe giver – the one who has the resources to pay bribes – is treated as the victim of this exercise.’ Does this also mean that the bribe giver has already benefitted a lot, by having amassed wealth by illegal means, so that hen could afford to throw away hefty sums as bribe? All this again points to the urgency of the need to cleanse the system of governance and bring I’n more transparency, to curb the occurrence of and occasions for bribe money.

Delays in trials I’n courts

The setting up Lok Pal will not by itself lead to end of corruption. So what are the ways I’n which corruption could be spotted as and when it just happen, so that the persons indulging I’n corruption can be caught then and there? What about long-pending court cases? It is worth quoting here what Mr.Frank Jurgan Richter wrote I’n an article on ‘The Great Game continues…..pretending corruption is a winning strategy’ (ET 21.6.12). He says, ‘India does not note I’n it’s economic growth indicators the lengthening delays I’n resolving court cases. These contribute significantly to it’s national inability to curb corruption at all levels and I’n doing so, force more into the slums that both surround and coexist between the glitzy buildings of the new India. It doesn’t take much strategic learning to realize that if the courts don’t get round to a conviction, one may continue to play the ‘Great Game’ – fooling oneself that corruption is a winning strategy.’


Brittany Trilford, the 17 year old New Zealand girl, who got the opportunity to address the G20 earth summit, I’n her speech said, ‘we demand action so that we have a future and have it guaranteed’. She asked the leaders ‘Are you here to save face, or are you here to save us?’ With regard to elimination of corruption, what we want is action so that we can think of a time when we can say, ‘ yes the future is here and now’, since it is a future for all of us, Indians – a future almost totally rid of corruption? For this a major Revolution is needed, with a multi-pronged approach. Until some such thing happens, the word corruption will only continue to haunt us for generations to come – and may be people will have to learn to live with it.


About cvsubramaniam

Former Director, Department of Electronics & Informatiin Technology, Government of India.. Authored Book on Human Resource Management. Published 80 plus articles on HR, Management, S&T, general topics.
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