After the establishment of the Republic of India there isa widely shared desire in the country to evaluate thegains made as also to assess our future.• Undoubtedly, the people of the countryand the managers of society can becongratulated on many counts for Indiasachievements since independence whichinclude (i) self-sufficiency (in fact surplusgeneration) in food-grains, (ii) a strongindustrial base, (iii) a rising expectancy oflife, (iv) a higher percentage of literacy, (v)a united and better integrated India and (vi)a growing recognition by the world• of our capabilities and potential.2
On the negative side, one could countthe nagging problems of unemployment,illiteracy and poverty accentuated by anever increasing population.Also, a low per capita income,inadequate infrastructure, feudalistictendencies and worst of all a patheticcontempt of rule of law and ethics inpublic life.Finally, an administration which isperceived as self seeking and citizenunfriendly.3
"WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved toconstituteIndia into a SOVEREIGNDEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC, and to secure to all itscitizens :JUSTICE, social, economic and political;LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promoteamong them all;FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and theunity of theNation:IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day ofNovember, 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TOOURSELVESTHIS CONSTITUTION."4
Akbar "the Great," who governedIndia for half a century (1556-1605)and by a wise, gentle and justreign brought about a season ofprosperity. This man, whosememory even to-day is revered bythe Hindus, was named Abul FathJelâleddin Muhammed. And trulyhe justified the epithet, for great,fabulously great, was Akbar asman, general, statesman and ruler.5
Akbar succeeded in establishing order, peace,and prosperity in his regained and newlysubjugated provinces. This he brought aboutby the introduction of a model administration,an excellent police, a regulated post service,and especially a just division of taxes. Up to Akbars time corruption had been amatter of course in the entire official serviceand enormous sums in the treasury were lost bypeculation on the part of tax collectors.6
AKBAR, EMPEROR OF INDIA The corruption in thefinance and customs department was abolished bymeans of a complicated and punctilious system ofsupervision (the bureaus of receipts and expenditureswere kept entirely separated from each other in thetreasury department).Akbar himself carefully examined the accountshanded in each month from every district, just as hegave his personal attention with tireless industry andpainstaking care to every detail in the widely ramifieddomain of the administration of government.Moreover the Emperor was fortunate in having at thehead of the finance department a prudent, energetic,perfectly honorable and incorruptible man, the HinduTodar Mal, who without possessing the title of vizier orminister of state had assumed all the functions of suchan office.
For us in India, corruption has been an age-oldphenomenon. Chanakya is supposed to have said inthe Arthashastra that there are 40 different methodsby which public officials can indulge in corruption."The Mahamatras are like fish. Does one know,when the fish is drinking water?" he is supposed tohave said. Indira Gandhi, when asked a questionabout corruption, passed it off with a comment that itwas a global phenomenon.
Corruption is a matter of concern as it has negativeconsequences. Corruption is anti-national. The hawala scamof the 1990s exposed how the Kashmiri terrorists weregetting funds through the hawala route, and it is the sameroute by which the corrupt bureaucrats, politicians andbusinessmen also were getting and laundering their funds.The 1999 UNDP report on Human Development pointed outthat if India’s corruption level can be brought down to that ofthe Scandinavian countries, India’s GDP will grow by 1.5 percent and FDI increase by 12.5 per cent. Corruption is,therefore, anti-economic development.
Corruption is anti-poor. In a country, where 26 per centof the population is below the poverty line, corruptionhits the poor very badly. Many of the developmentschemes meant for the weaker sections do not benefitthem at all. Rajiv Gandhi remarked that only 15 paiseout of every rupee meant for the anti-povertyprogramme reaches the beneficiaries. Get the benefitsof corruption-free, good governance in our own lifetime.Singapore is a classic example.
Corruption and India: While no society is free fromcorruption, what is worrying is that such behaviourappears normalised in India. The licence raj of the pastdid not help. Capitalism, globalisation and liberalisationhave also increased the pressure to succeed, achievetargets and acquire wealth quickly. The abuse of publicpower, office and resources for personal gain iscommon. A culture, which declares conflicts of interestsand institutes systems to assess them, WILL certainlytake hold in India. ‘India Aganist Corruption’ will notremain a slogan. JAI HIND