Corruption is no doubt a global phenomenon. There have been many instances of corruption all over and thanks to the media many were exposed.
Today, with technological advance and an alert print and visual media, things have become a lot easier for exposes. Whistle blowers too have played a vital role in informing us about corruption.
The Transparency International, a leading anti-corruption watchdog, published its Corruption Perception Index (CPI) for 2011 on 1st December 2011. In this index they actually name the least corrupt to the most corrupt countries in a scale from 10 to 0. While the top slot with 9.5 rating goes to New Zealand, they are closely followed by the Scandinavian countries of Denmark and Finland with 9.4 as their score. The ignominious last two places go to Somalia & North Korea with the lowest 1.0 scores. Where does India figure in the list? India is 95th (out of 183 countries covered by the index) with a 3.1 score. It is worth pointing out that in 2010 we were at 87 with 3.3 score and have dropped 8 places, thanks to the innumerous corruption scandals involving the ruling governments in both the Centre and the States unearthed.
On 8th December 2011, Bibek Debroy and Laveesh Bhandari have touched a raw nerve when they calculated the figures that the corrupt earn in India – a mind blowing Rs. 92,122 crore ($18.42 billion) which works out to 1.26% of the GDP! In their book aptly titled, “Corruption in India: The DNA & RNA”, Debroy who is a professor with Delhi’s Centre for Policy Research and Bhandari who heads Indicus Analytics, monitoring the performance of the Indian economy, lists out the various public services that are plagued with the mire of corruption. This includes industries of transport, real estate, illegal mining, government procurement, agriculture, forestry and logging, fishing, registered manufacturing, electricity, gas and water supply, construction, trade, hotels and restaurants, railways, storage, communication, and banking and insurance. Well, reading the exhaustive list, it occurred to me that it would be a lot easier to point out where corruption does not happen in this country than the other way around! It is sad that India’s economic growth is undermined by corruption that permeates the entire warp and weft of the nation.
Today, though there are anti-corruption laws, they are toothless and powers that be can easily circumvent them, break them with impunity, sneak away through loop holes and walk out of prisons & courts with ease. Coming out of prisons, they target whistle blowers (we have had so many – Manjunath Shanmugham, Shehla Masood, Niyamat Ansari – just to mention a few names that cannot be forgotten) and meticulously eliminate them, leaving no traces. RTI activists find themselves at the receiving end.
Where does all this leave us? Surely the need of the hour is a strong Lokpal Bill which will ensure stringent punishment to those who indulge in corruption of any kind. Let us all support it in every possible way. Let us hope that we are able to chain the monster of corruption and signal the awakening of the giant that India is – thanks to her man power, resources and timeless national values. Let’s remove the blot on this land which has “Satyameva Jayate” (meaning Truth alone triumphs, from the ancient scripture – Mundaka Upanishad) as its motto.
I want to end this post on a very optimistic note borrowing the immortal lines of John Keats in the Ode to the West Wind.
“The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?”