- Thesis: Man, society and state are complementary to one another. Each one of them has rights and obligations towards the other. These rights and obligations encompass social justice, equality of all, and rule of law and are based on morally sound foundations. But on account of dereliction of these rights and obligations, moral degeneracy creeps into a society and spreads to tentacles with utmost swiftness. Therefore, a culture of corruption sets foot in the society; which can be eradicated only by reverting to the values and fundamental principles of rights and obligations on part of an individual, Society and the state.
- Impacts, effects and ramifications:
- Moral decadence of individuals
- Birth of an unbalanced society
- Emergence of a weak state which cannot enforce its writ
- Segmentation of a society and class conflicts
- Culture of corruption makes people at large to lose trust in public offices
- Institutions are put into stagnancy because of the regressive effects of corruption
- Democratic norms are challenged
- Economically, a state cannot go beyond a certain level because corruption will keep a check on progress
- Politically hostile environment persists
- International standing of the state will be deeply affected
- The balance among state, society and individual is broken to its extremes which destroys a community
- The aspirations to be a perfect democracy are kept at bay
- Money laundering, embezzlement; loss to National Exchequer
- No rule of law
- No equality of law
- Flawed criminal justice system
- Lack of institutional checks and balances
- Fascist and exploitative tendencies in the society
- Digression from the much aspired principles of good governance
- An elitist model of democracy generates proclivities of corruption in the society and state alike.
- No system of accountability
- Fragile, underpowered and futile institutions to uphold accountability
- Red Tapism and bureaucratic complexities
- Nepotism and a complete disregard for merit
- Remedies and Eradication methods:
- Sticking to the principles of Democracy and Good governance
- Realizing and performing one’s duties regarding one’s obligations towards state and society
- Making the institutions autonomous
- Increasing the salaries of public servants
- Role of mothers, teachers and fathers to instill moral goodness in their children
- Media, both electronic and social, can play substantial role in highlighting the evils of corruption
- Focusing on sound economic policies to shrink financial disparities in a society
- Corruption is a menace. It is an octopus which spreads its tentacles across the society and it feeds on moral degeneracy
- Man, society and state, when get oblivious to their duties towards each other; corruption is born, which eats up the foundations of a society.
- But a society can cope with this disease by reverting back to fulfilling the obligations in addition to demanding rights.
- Although it is very difficult to curb corruption but man has overcome the evils in the past and he can achieve the greatness by eradicating this threat-to-society in the contemporary age as well; as nothing is impossible for him.
Although man has been bestowed with the esteemed gift of wisdom and reason; which differentiates him from other creatures, but he is not infallible. God has endowed his vicegerent with the ability to distinguish between good-bad and right-wrong. But he can be easily strayed in either direction. When the sense of good and bad fades away from his intellect; he becomes more vulnerable to all kinds of evils. He, therefore, puts his ‘self’ before others. The lust for powers and greed sets in and moral corruption reaches its apogee. An individual, who goes down this path, becomes rotten from inside and thus, a passive contributor to the state and society.
An individual, society and state have their own rights and obligations. A state has the obligation to provide security, equal opportunities, justice and sense of protection to the individual. Whereas an individual is obliged to contribute positively to build a society which can accommodate him, a society enables a man to reach his true potential. The sense of freedom prevails in a society; but this freedom is checked by the state, for it should not impinge the freedom of other members of the society. In short, a stable and progressive society is based on firm moral grounds. Glory of the state lies in the fact that each contributor i.e. the state, society and its members contributes efficiently and perform its duty towards the other. Neglect of these rights and obligations creates a breeding ground for moral degeneracy; which helps negatively to create a morally corrupt society and the state.
Digression from the principles on which the nexus of citizen, society and state rests, enables the citizen or individual to exercise dereliction while observing his rights and duties. A loophole is created and enlarged by further deviance from rudimentary principles of social justice, rule of law and equality of all. Consequentially, corruption creeps into the folds of the nexus of citizen, society and state. If unchecked corruption grows like a parasite and eats its host, the society, from within; giving rise to as culture of corruption.
Corruption is an abuse of power for personal gains. Self-aggrandizement is the hallmark of corruption. Its impacts are multipronged and multidimensional. In the words of Austrian writer and journalist:
“Corruption is worse than prostitution. The latter endangers the morals of an individual, while the former endangers the morals of an entire country.”
Now, we shall put some light on the cardinal effects of this menace of corruption.
As discussed above, evil of the sorts of corruption creeps into a character because of incapability and unwillingness on part of the individual to judge between right and wrong. Corruption makes a man lose his sense of good and bad. It makes him to put self-interest before the interest of state and society. Therefore, corruption sprouts moral decadence in the citizens. It shakes the very foundations of the society.
Morally corrupt personalities, seeking for personal gains instead of social gains, endangers harmony. Society suffers because of the greedy nature of individuals. It is an animalistic tendency to look for the good of one only, while on the other hand, ripping off others of their due share. All of its morphs a society into a society full of greed, hostility and violence. Balance of a society gets disturbed and if went unchecked, it might be the beginning of the end of that society.
Corruption not only affects the society; it profoundly affects the efficiency of a state. The state weakens because of corruption. It is due to the neglect of citizens and public office holders to perform their obligations towards the state. Hence, the state loses its writ. Not only the individual and society, but state also suffers because of corruption.
Not only the society is weakened because of corruption, it is also subject to different forms of violence. Classes of exploiters and the exploited begin to emerge. Society is divided on the lines of power. Because of misuse of power to one’s own benefit entails corruption; a sense of resentment grows in the masses. Hence, different classes emerge and tear the fabric of a society which was previously based on harmony and good-will.
Corruption not only is an evil in itself; it is the breeding ground for other lethal evils. Because of corrupt officers and other public office holders; people lose their trust in them. Their dishonesty and an attitude of self-aggrandizement force people to take matters into their own hand. Therefore, one evil generates other evil and the decay of society and state reaches its zenith.
Furthermore, democracy thrives on institutional autonomy and efficiency. But because of culture of corruption in these organizations; their efficiency plunges downward swiftly. Pakistan is currently at an abysmal rank of one hundred and twenty six on corruption perceptions index, issued by Transparency International. Institutional inefficiency is at display here because of corruption. It is estimated that at monthly loss of Twelve million rupees is suffered by Pakistan because of regressive effects of corruption on institutions.
Corruption-culture rots the principles of democracy. Principles of rule of law, speedily justice and equal opportunities to all are digressed in a corrupt society. Democratic norms are challenged which keeps the country at the lower echelons of success. A prominent parliamentarian of Britain, Edmund Burke, put it profoundly and comprehensively in the following words:
“Corrupt influence is itself the perennial spring of all prodigality and of all disorder; it leads us more than millions of debt; takes away vigor from our councils and every wisdom from our councils and every shadow of authority and credit from the most venerable parts of our constitution.”
Besides having deteriorating effect on democratic institutions, corruption keeps at bay the economic prosperity of a nation. A nation cannot achieve its full potential economically without curbing the grave threat of corruption. It will keep eating the national income and shall discourage the foreign investors to invest in a country.
In addition, corruption also affects the political environment of a country. Economically feeble country with loose democratic institutions gives rise to the politics of violence. The main motive of corrupt politicians is to amass the wealth through illegal means and channels. Thus, a sense of animalistic hunger greed prevails in the political elite. The current scenario of corrupt countries having corrupt political elites depicts a gloomy picture. The countries of Latin America, South America and some countries of Asia; which include mostly developing countries are a case in point.
Abundant corrupt practices in a country’s domestic environment affect its global standing. Other democratic countries do not give the corrupt country the importance and stature. A country where corruption is rife does not wield authority and respect in the international arena because its leaders are not respected. Ambassador Cameron Munter while commenting on Pakistan said that:
“Pakistan is lagging behind in all spheres of life. This is the outcome of corruption. It has brought Pakistan to the point where it has lost its identity and failed to establish its credibility among the other nations of the world.”
Consequently, corruption dismantles the basic foundations of the state and society. The balance among state, society and citizens is disturbed. The result is that the community suffers both spiritually and temporally.
Democratic aspirations are also checked and the country struggles to life itself economically and politically to the ideals of a liberal democracy.
Last but not the least, corruption in the form of money laundering, embezzlement, frauds and other techniques; is a loos to the national exchequer. It is detrimental to the cause of a peaceful, progressive and harmonious society.
As evident from the delineated impacts of corruption; it is crystal clear that corruption is the root of all evils. But before trying to eradicate it, one should focus on its root causes, for the solution always lies in addressing the root causes.
Rule of law in a society keeps a check on the citizens against committing any excesses against the society. Having no rule of law in a society and a state incapable of implementing law in a country is the root cause of prevailing corruption in all of its forms.
Besides rule of law, equality of law is also indispensible for a society. State must ensure equality of all before the law to pursue and strengthen foundations of the society. Justice ensures peace in a country. Delayed justice and inequality of the application of law, so that the powerful are above the law while weak are subject to it, promotes a feeling of frustration in the society. Being powerful and above the law displays the gloomy picture of the abuse of power. As Rousseau portrays:
“Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Furthermore, a flawed criminal justice system sprouts a corrupt knack in the society, which is the foundation stone of morphing a vibrant culture into a culture of corruption.
Lack of institutional checks and balances is another factor which contributes to the creation of corruption-culture. Institutions, without autonomy and devoid of democratic principles encourage the culture of corruption. Apart from democratic institutions, fascist and exploitative tendencies give rise to decay in society and state. Exploitation of ones subjects is also one form of corruption. Exploitation of laborer and farmers by industrialist and landlords to enhance profits depict this glaring picture.
When exploitation reaches its pinnacle, good-governance is doomed for eternity. A society which violates the laws and venerated principles of responsibility, transparency, accountability and responsiveness, plunges into the pit-hole of corruption.
Corrupt practices and corrupt elements feed from their own. In an elitist democracy, the elite class sabotages the rights of the poor. They cannot legislate against their interests for the betterment of the society. Hence, an elitist model of democracy breeds a corrupt culture.
Accountability is a basic principle of good governance. It checks corruption and keeps the economy transparent. But democratic institutions, which are not autonomous, are mere stages of the elite of a country. They build a culture which keeps the accountability at bay. Lack of accountability promotes corrupt practices.
Subsequently, fragile, weak and underpowered institutions lay at the foundation pillars of a corrupt-culture.
As corruption is the abuse of power for personal benefit; it is achieved at the back of red tapism and bureaucratic complexities in public offices. In other words, it is the lack of transparency in public office dealings.
The culture of corruption is provided further means to grow at the back of nepotism. A complete disregard exists for merits. In short, talent is discouraged while personal whims and personal preferences are encouraged. Postings and appointments are done by taking bribes. These practices enhance the ambiance of corruption, where corrupt factors defend each other against the vulnerable sections of the society.
The root cause of corruption, as mentioned and explained above can only be catered by target oriented solutions. Following are some of the vestigial remedies to counter the ever-expanding culture of corruption and to eradicate it completely from its roots.
“One of the biggest curses from which India is suffering, I do not say that other countries are free from it, but, I think our condition is so much worse, is bribery and corruption. That really is a poison. We must put it down with an iron hand.”
To put corruption down with an iron hand, we must stick to the principle of democracy and good governance in letter and spirit. It shall counter the loopholes on part of the state to allow corrupt elements to flourish.
Next, reverting to the fundamentals of the nexus of individual, society and state is the need of the hour. If an individual realizes and performs his duties towards society and the state; instead of keeping his greedy desires at the forefront, a country shall get rid of this scourge.
In addition to the awareness one’s rights and obligations, one needs to play a positive role in the society.
Doing something bigger than ourselves, should be the moral motivation, for it will be at display on all levels i.e., individual, state, and society.
Therefore, the state officials, parliamentarians, and bureaucrats shall play an important role to do something bigger than their personal gains. In this way the broader goal of public good is catered while corruption is checked. Autonomous institutions are thus a consequence of this effort by selfless service to the state and society.
Furthermore, the state should increase the salaries of public servants to discourage corruption. In this way public servants shall get their needs addressed by increased salaries and they will avoid corrupt practices.
People and the government should act in consensus to eradicate this evil. In the words of Pratriba Patil:
“Corruption is the enemy of development, and of good governance. It must be got rid of. Both the government and the people at large must come together to achieve this national objective.”
Role of mothers, teachers and fathers cannot be understated to instill moral goodness in their children. The great President of India Dr. A.P.I. Abul Kalam has expressed this in the following words:
“If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother and the teacher.”
Media, being the fourth pillar of democracy, can play a substantial role to eradicate the disease of corruption. Media should play the role of a watchdog and must educate the populace to highlight the vitriolic effects of corruption.
Financial disparities, rich-poor gap and class conflicts of economic sorts encourage corruption. Therefore, the government should focus on policies which are comprehensive and sound enough to cater the conundrum of financial disparities.
Eradication of corruption-culture requires an honest leadership at the top. As Vladimir Putin put it precisely:
“Those who fight corruption should be clean themselves.”
Albert Einstein portrayed the situation aptly as:
“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.”
Thus, disease of corruption can be cured only by sticking to the broad based vision of democracy and good governance as depicted previously in remedies.
Corruption is therefore a menace. It is an octopus which spreads its tentacles across the society and it feeds on moral degeneracy. It comes at the forefront and morphs into a culture because of the dereliction displayed by individual-society-state nexus in performing their duties. A weak state with underpowered institutions, lack of rule of law, no social justice and exploitative tendencies with fascist and feudalistic policies at the driving seat, only allows moral decay to creep in. by following these policies, state shirks democratic principles and aspirations of good governance . Similarly, delinquent attitudes but individuals aspiring to serve individual and personal interests instead of performing duties due towards society, promotes greed and corruption in the society. In sum, corruption whether moral or of other forms penetrates only because of loopholes in the rights and duties of individuals, state and society. Consequentially, a society can cope with this disease by reverting back to fulfilling the obligations in addition to demanding rights. Although it is very difficult to curb corruption but man has overcome the evils in the past and he can achieve the greatness by eradicating this threat-to-society in the contemporary age as well; as nothing is impossible for him.
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