Why do we tolerate corruption?
N.S.Venkataraman, Trustee, Nandini Voice For the Deprived, Besant Nagar,
Chennai, has been doing some wonderful work in the area of social work. From time to time, he organises meetings and elicits views from people on various issues that affect society.
On Independence Day this year, he organised a meeting (in association with Transparency International India and Shamdhasini Foundation, Mumbai) at the Dr. MGR Janaki College of Arts & Science, where college students voiced their opinions on corruption in India. Here are some of their views (as passed on to me by Mr Venkataraman):
- Corruption in India follows a vicious cycle, but the root of the problem lies in the corruption of the political system. The nexus between corrupt politicians and corrupt bureaucrats makes it look that any fight against corruption is the fight against the government itself.
- As long as the work is done, it is fine – this attitude of the people could be another root cause for the rampant corruption in India. We have a tendency to blame the politicians, government employees or higher authorities in any sector for putting money in their pockets. But, have we ever introspected about own selves to see how true are we as citizens, with regard to the issue of corruption? How many of us do not look for ‘contact’ for getting our children in good school or college?
- Tolerance of people towards corruption, almost complete lack of intense public outcry against corruption and the absence of strong and effective public forum to oppose corruption allow corruption to reign over people. This could be the underlying cause.
- What intrigues is that why is it that even the well informed people in India have put up with this corruption burden so long and have not revolted? Is this linked to an unflinching faith in karma theory or is it a reflection simply of utter helplessness? Even the efforts of great fighters like Anna Hazare have not made a dent, as even the educated people are not supporting such efforts adequately.
- The fight against corruption must begin at home. Family and schools are the twin indispensable social institutions which must be activated to fight for value system in life. Functioning of these institutions at high ethical level can usher in a revolution to change the mind set of both the giver and the taker. We need a second freedom struggle.
- The pressure must come from the public by agitating against corrupt practices. The youth can make a difference if there would be role models for them.
- Most people who talk about corruption and ethics today appear to be of sixty-plus age group. Most of them had been part of the corrupt system in public life in one way or the other earlier and had not fought against the issues when they had the power and energy. At sixty-plus, when they preach, they do not inspire confidence amongst the youth.
- One would shudder to think as to what would happen to the peace of the society, if the common men whose interests are defeated by the forces of corruption, would feel frustrated and helpless and take to violence as the only option available to them.
Among those present were N. Mittal, former Central Vigilance Commissioner; and Kalyanan, who was once Gandhiji’s secretary.