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The growing cult of Corruption

We live in a world that is choking with corruption. It has infiltrated every sphere of our lives and the toxicity of its effects is spreading like cancer.

The latest Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (TICPI) is a grim reminder that humanity is cascading down fast on the slippery slope of corruption. Sadly, there is nothing in sight to be hopeful that this trend could be reversed.

Corruption has become endemic in India, and the Index placed that country low on the list (87) among 178 countries surveyed.

India slipped three places, primarily due to alleged corrupt practices in the Delhi Commonwealth Games. The TICPI 2007 Survey showed that millions of Indians earning $US1 or less a day had paid an estimated $US220 million in bribes over a three-month period to seek basic utility services. There appears to be a ‘Bribery Charge,’ for almost all services, ranging from issue of birth certificates, driving licenses and passports to job offers, transfers and even bank loans.

While the US slipped from 19 to 22 with a score of 7.1, Denmark, New Zealand and Singapore tied for first place, indicating lowest corruption, with scores of 9.3.

New Zealand is the undisputed regional flag bearer against corruption and its police and civil authorities have made their Nation proud.

The Index rated the Indian Police as the most corrupt, followed by petty officials maintaining land records,

Even the ‘National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme’, initiated by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh was not spared. Government owned hospitals carry the same image, with four million below poverty households paying $US21.75 million to staff over a 12-month period for admission or for referral to diagnostic services.

Almost a million households were denied hospital services for refusing to pay bribes or could not afford to do so.

India’s Vice-President Hamid Ansari admitted that the extent of miss-governance was horrifying in legal and moral terms.

Releasing the TICPI 2010 Report, he described corruption as “pervasive and cancerous”.

As if this was not bad enough, criminal gangs and syndicates have taken the country to another higher level. A federal Home Ministry Report confirmed this growing reality, claiming that these crime syndicates had corrupted India’s state machinery at all levels, almost running a parallel government. They have become a law unto themselves, laying down rules and enforcing them through musclemen and hired assassins. They control vast areas, using terror and violence. These gangs have now infiltrated into the inner sanctum of politics in India as lawmakers in state and national assemblies.

Many claim that greed and poverty ride corruption in India. Those who dwell in poverty are desperate but become soft targets for unscrupulous people.

India’s rise to prosperity is an emerging phenomenon but unfair distribution of wealth has left almost half of its population in grinding poverty. Yet, many of the unconscionable economic elites of India continue to build their fortunes, exploiting the poor and taking shameless pride in obscene display of their wealth.

In the Gandhian and Nehruvian era, India was seen as a beacon of hope for the civilised world. As the land that gave birth to four religions, namely Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, India was the ‘Spiritual Capital of the World.’

India could have retained the edge but has somehow lost its path, as the vines of corruption spread vigorously to strangulate the Nation.

Mahatma Gandhi ascribed to pursuance of morality, honesty and integrity, both in public and in private lives of people. India has little to show that the legacy of this great leader still lives but his name continues to be taken in vain. Raging clouds of corruption now encircle the lamp of honesty that he left to illuminate the Indian Nation.

There is little hope that India can regain its place of eminence, as other nations also fold under the pressure of corruption.

Can India reverse the tide of corruption? Dr Manmohan Singh is a respected leader with proven aversion towards corruption but he alone cannot make the difference, as many of those around him wallow in the ‘national hobby.’

While some people maintain that Globalisation has accentuated corruption, others contend that corruption has accelerated the process of globalisation. Local corruption has transgressed the national boundaries and international networking has been eased through the Internet.

Corruption needs to be tackled at the global level, as it is a festering wound that afflicts the human society. There should be zero tolerance against those who engage in this pugnacious practice, with deterrent punishment handed down to perpetrators.

Corruption is blight on our civilisation.

With spread of education, knowledge and consequent refinement of the democratic processes, the world today should be a place where corruption is extinct. But it has become a growth industry that is vigorously pursued in many countries, not only by politicians but also by saffron-clad saints.

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