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What is Corruption?

There is common misconception that corruption is only financial – that there are no other dimensions to corruption. Truly speaking, financial corruption is a symptom, and not the disease. The real malady is intellectual. This is obvious from the perception among us, if there is corruption, one should try to circumvent, but one should not really deal with corruption. It is one thing to understand the factors of corruption. Having under stood it, it is quite another thing to have the courage to change it. We have to therefore, determine the means for doing so.

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An ounce of practice is better than tones of theory. Administration is the art of the possible and, in determining the limits of the possible, we may like to remember, that, within the system, IAS officers have prerogatives and powers which they can use for public rather than private advantage. A strategy has to be worked out to understand the effective use of these powers in public interest.

Let me now come to the problems o understanding concerning various categories of corruption. We may also remind ourselves about the pointlessness of isolated initiatives here and there. Every one tells a story from one’s own life, saying that I have dealt with this issue in such and such manner. But one is not generally willing to adapt a group approach. One has dealt with the so-called system on an individual plane. One has to deal with it systematically, as an organised group.

Ideological Corruption:

There are deep ideological reasons for the suggestion that corruption cannot be dealt with by autonomous action within the Indian polity. Paul Hacker, the Vedantic scholar has suggested that the logos seed in the Indian or Non-western soil cannot bear flower! And fruit, until it is transplanted to the soil which is fertilised by the judaeo Christian stream of thought. This comes out of a very old Oriental perception, which has a strong presence even today as a post-colonial theory.

Moral Corruption:

There is then this strong feeling that if one is not actively involved in corruption, one is not corrupt. Passive acquiescence is not corruption. And, enthusiastic facilitation, out of a complete misunderstanding of historical processes, is not corruption. If one is encouraging the destruction of bio-cultural habitats, total destruction of community economic systems, total homogenisation of our culture, then also, it is not corruption.

Cultural Corruption:

There are then, several sophistries involved in abdicating our positions to cultural corruption. Dancing to ‘Dhak Dhaks, Ole Ole’, Mast Mast is not corruption. Being a surrogate community, tied by umbilical cord to the western civilization, is not corruption. It is not corruption to only admire Naomi Campbell and Claudia Schiffer. It is not corruption to gloat on a borrowed culture, to go gaga over Nintendo and such other Japanese games” It is not corruption. It is only fun. It is entertainment.

There is a deep malaise in the sense that culture has been reduced in our perception from a composite culture of life to a culture of bread and circus. The cultures of ecology, water management, therapeutics, forest conservation are surrounded by mythology, song, dance, ritual, and management systems. These cultures have been supplanted by the lowest common denominators of western song and dance. Most of the people do not know western jazz, western classical music and western blues. All they know are the gyrations of hips directed by a few film dance impresarios from Bombay.

Financial Corruption:

Take now the financial dimensions of corruption. One has to understand that what we are discussing in terms of retreat of the State, disinvestment, privatization, financial intra-mediation, liberalization, etc. are all happening anyway, because of the western teleology of history, which we have accepted without modification, and without taking precautions, before allowing it to engulf us, without sensitizing officers to the tremendous variety of composite cultural articulations in the country, which are directly linked with the rhythm of seasons and of life. The latest brand of corruption, it has been aptly pointed out, is to act as pimps in the strip-tease operations of disinvestment. To understand the financial processes, to regulate them and to keep away from the attendant temptations and not become slaves to them—this is what we should be able to derive from our training.

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