POLITICAL CORRUPTION AND HOW IT IS AFFECTING DEMOCRACY
Author: Vaibhav shitole
Corruption has become an integral part of any working establishment in the past few decades. Its magnitude varies at various levels depending upon the authorities involved and the work that is to be done. Some of the most corrupt countries in the world according to the CORRUPTION PERCEPTION INDEX are Denmark, New Zealand, Sweden, Singapore, and Switzerland. According to this list, in 2020 India ranked 86th out of 179 countries around the globe. The rank could suggest that the situation is far better than other countries, but considering the size of our nation, its population, its development rate compared to other nations, an Indian citizen could very easily narrate the hurdles faced by a common man in day to day life due to this cancerous element in the national economy.
Corruption can be described as misusing power and designation for personal gain. The most common ways in which this is carried out is by using references of higher authorities in order to get a particular process done faster, or to avoid punishment for any rule broken, either way, to alleviate the discomfort caused while following the basic protocols aimed to be equal and just for all, thus breaking the established order and disturbing the system. This could be observed on a local level right from flunking the driving test and getting the license directly, using political references to free someone from traffic penalties, bailing someone out of jail, getting admissions in schools or colleges when the seat is beyond one’s potential, or even while buying real estate and automobiles when the most common practice followed is demanding a portion of the payment in cash, thus leaving it unaccounted for and hence not making it taxable.
According to the survey conducted by TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL, India ranks first in terms of corruption in Asia. The survey called GLOBAL CORRUPTION BAROMETER (GCB) indicates that the countries next in line after India are Indonesia and China.These statistics are a national shame for such a huge democracy, where all the representatives are elected by the people themselves on the very foundation of trust laid by them using promises on the development of the nation and its economy which in turn is sunk to the bottom of the lake by the same.
Bribery has become the unspoken rule that everyone adheres to while carrying out any public work. It is more religiously practiced than the actual set of rules governing the system. Bribe started with the higher class who can afford it using it to get things done quicker and has slowly metamorphosed today into something crucial to be provided to make sure your work is not delayed or cancelled on purpose by the concerned person in charge. Thus, in situations like these, the poor and uneducated find themselves utterly helpless, left with no other option but to give in to this new constitution that runs the nation today.
Even big corporate companies are not averse to employing these methods. They can be seen using various third parties’ to make payments on their behalf, a crafty way to hide the actual expenses, storing huge amounts of unaccounted cash, dumping embarrassing amounts of cash in foreign banks to avoid ITR of our own country, sponsoring trips abroad for clients and employees and also giving huge donations to Non-Government Organizations which are affiliated to and authorised to receive by the Government itself. All these are ingenious ways to have huge amounts of black money enough to have a retirement plan better than the government pension.
Surveys show that in in fact, corruption is the result of growth and development in a country and not the opposite as one would expect. This is because in undeveloped nations there is only so much to steal, while in developing countries new projects are introduced every now and then to boost the country’s economy, hence opening gates to huge cash flow, thus expanding the scope for bribes and embezzlement. There is a well-established hierarchy in the world of corruption, evolved throughout all these years and known to all on this date, still undefeated. This hierarchy means that any public office which involves various officials of different posts, all necessary for carrying out a particular task will all have a share in the bribe taken based upon their professional superiority. This is termed as centralized corruption. This is statistically proven as the lesser evil compared to decentralized corruption where each bribe receiver works independently and thus has his own demands, thus having no order and predictability, making the public more vulnerable.
Indian politics is a major contributor to the nation’s corruption levels. It is observed that the electoral candidates from poor backgrounds when seeing an opportunity to get rich through a shortcut, this desire works as a catalyst for taking bribes and increasing personal wealth. Hence we have seen that corruption is well incubated into big government contracts involving international firearms deals, road and infrastructures, natural resources projects and more. As one climbs up the scale of economic superiority through this method, their greed for a more luxurious lifestyle increases. Therefore, it is easier to show the correct path to a small corrupt public servant than to a corrupt high-class government officer. These bribes are of various kinds like harassment bribes, paid to avoid fines or penalties of any kind, voluntary bribes, paid to avail services which are one’s right anyway, and coercive bribes taken in return for a promise of not causing any harm by the use of power.
Apart from this institutional level corruption, the nation has witnessed corruption that has impacted the country’s economy directly. This includes:
· 2G spectrum scam involving Telecom Minister A. Raja of DMK.
· Commonwealth Scam of 2010 by politician Suresh Kalmadi.
· Adarsh Real Estate scam by Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan.
· Coalgate Scam of 2012
· Agusta-Westland Scam of 2013
· Hawala Scam
· Satyam Scam of 2009
EFFORTS TAKEN BY THE GOVERNMENT
Corruption in India has always existed since the beginning and so have the efforts to curb or contain it. Efforts began from as far back as 1947 when the Prevention of Corruption Act (POCA) was initiated. The act aimed at criminalising any efforts taken towards seeking bribes, misappropriation, and possession of unaccounted wealth or property. In 1963 the Central Bureau of Investigation was set up in India to investigate corruption related matters. Although this was not a specific body for investigating financial matters, rather a team comprised of police officers who are known to be greatly controlled by politicians. Also, each state has its own CBI team, thus further weakening their power due to state political influence. The 2005 Right to Information (RTI) did vest powers directly in the hands of the general public by making the party in question give a response within six weeks of the petition being filed.
Political campaigns are one of the biggest sources of circulating black money in the country. Parties spend ridiculous amounts of money in conducting campaigns wherein they promise various developments in education, infrastructure, electricity and water. Ironically the same people who vote for these politicians after being influenced by their speeches then see the failures in delivering the same promises after the candidate gets elected. The money gulped down by middlemen in Public Works Department (PWD) if retrieved would give our country world-class roads and infrastructure, whose quality in most parts of the country are pathetic and requiring frequent repairs and reconstruction which is just another way of getting more grants and thus more bribe.
In 1951 Representation of People Act (RPA) put a spending limit on political campaigns. In 1968 the corporates were banned from giving donations to political parties, which later in 1985 were amended to allow these donations abiding to certain guidelines. In 1999 the NDA passed the Election and Other Related Laws where companies and individuals can contribute to political parties and avail tax exemptions. Many other such laws and acts were passed over the years to curb the flow of black money, but it always found its way through the country’s market.
Trace International survey suggests that 91% of bribe is taken by Government officials, 77% taken to deter harm and 51% for receiving timely service which by default is outright. Such corruption has a huge impact on the nation. It leads to insufficient resource use, hampering of development goals of the country, poor quality of huge government projects, time delay in delivery which further increases many other costs.
Corruption is an infestation which might never be brought down to zerobut has the potential to be controlled to a huge extent. It has to be fought at an individual level, only then will the laws and acts released at the national level be truly effective. It is said that if all the black money of India is retrieved altogether and diverted to development, it will put India decades ahead.
“An empire toppled from outside can be reconstructed. But the one that falls from within is beyond repair”. Thus the fight against corruption has to be from within and it needs to start with the common people.
https://theprint.in/opinion/an-all-india-police-act-thats-what-we-need-to-curb-waze-like-cases-of-corruption/629299/ https://www.transparency.org/en/cpi/2020/index/nzl https://transparencyindia.org/ https://www.transparency.org/en/gcb ITR- Income Tax Return https://joshandmakinternational.com/resources/laws-of-pakistan/anti-corruption-accountability-laws/the-prevention-of-corruption-act-1947/ NDA- National Democratic Alliance https://www.oecd.org/investment/anti-bribery/traceanti-briberysurvey.htm