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Values and Ethics in Preventing Corruption

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“Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit, into that heaven of freedom, into that heaven of freedom, my  Father, let my country awake,” said Rabindranath Tagore.

Corruption refers to a favor offered, demanded, or generated for personal gains through illegal ways and by violating the proper norms. You can go to any government department and see a board outside that says, ‘Accepting or demanding a bribe is a punishable offense.’ But the harsh reality of what is happening inside that office is that you cannot get even a minor thing done unless you grease the palm of every last peon concerned.

Some of the notorious scams in India were Solar scam, Fodder scams, 2G Spectrum case, Bar Bribery case, Money Chain scam, AIPMT 2015 scam, etc., It is a matter of shame that India is one of the most corrupted nations in the world.

Subratha Roy, the chairman of the Sahara group, was arrested and charged with a penalty of 20 crore rupees. Recently a newspaper reported that the West Bengal Transport Minister was arrested for connecting with the multi-crore Sharada scam. When blockbuster star Salman Khan was released from jail, we celebrated the illegal betting of 2000 crore rupees. As part of the Vyapam scam, which took the lives of 46 innocent people, 2000 suspects, including the former education minister, was arrested.

Before moving further, let me ask you one thing, where should the change begin? We sit in the comfort of our homes, thinking that corruption is a matter of politicians and rich businessmen. But believe me, most of us are either corrupted or victims of this evil menace when I say this.

A joke about India goes like this: A foreigner came to India and took a taxi to reach a certain place. While traveling, the foreigner said to the taxi driver: “Taxis in China are very fast.” When the foreigner reached the destination, he was shocked at the huge amount of money he had to pay as fare.  The taxi driver then said, “Sir, taxi meters in India are very fast.”

Corruption has made inroads in all walks of life, be it social, cultural, educational, religious, or political. You see auto rickshaws without meters. You see traffic police officers taking bribes from innocent passengers; you see corruption in every corner of society, yet you turn a blind eye to it. In India, the imprisoned criminals of corruption cases sit in air-conditioned rooms, enjoying television and other facilities, making Indian jails a tourist center.

Criminals walk through streets like normal people in this country. Where is justice? Where are the moral values and ethics that we have been holding up high since our independence?

If there were a medal in the Olympics for the country with the most number of laws globally, India would get the gold. Ironically, if another medal in the Olympics for the country where non-observance of laws was most prominent, India would win another gold.

Indians know that failing in observing a law would not lead to being caught, being caught would not lead to being prosecuted, and being prosecuted would not lead to being imprisoned. Foreigners, however, do not possess the same attitude.

Change must begin from the foundation of ethical practices. We should instill the spirit of honesty, transparency, accountability, integrity, and good citizenship to combat corruption. Some of the new initiatives taken by the Central Vigilance Commission being the computerization of the commission’s work, provision for whistleblowers, integrity in public procurement, modern preventive vigilance framework, awareness campaigns, etc.

Corruption adversely affects the country’s economic development. You say the government should change, you say the bureaucrats should change, you say the businessmen should change. But let me underline this, that ‘You’ and ‘I’ should change to kickstart a national change.

To conclude, let me quote a dictum by Lord Denning, “Be you ever so high, the law is above you.”

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