What are the basic causes of corruption? Give examples from Indian context?

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Title: Understanding Corruption: Causes & Examples from Indian Context


The menace of corruption is a pervasive issue, acting as a significant barrier to economic, political, social, and environmental development. It undermines the rule of law, affects public trust in government, and fuels inequality and poverty. In India, corruption manifests in various forms, including petty theft, grand corruption, business malpractices, and institutional corruption. Hereby, we delve into the root causes of corruption with examples from the Indian context, providing insights for the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) aspirants.

Underlying Causes of Corruption:

1. Lack of Transparency and Accountability: The opaqueness in the Indian public delivery system creates a fertile ground for corrupt practices. Absence of clarity in the roles and responsibilities facilitates corruption due to non-accountability. For instance, the Commonwealth Games Scam in 2010 exposed the lack of transparency and accountability in the system.

2. Lack of Strict and Swift Punishments: The lack of deterring punishments for the corrupt individuals often encourages corruption. For instance, political leaders involved in the infamous 2G spectrum allocation scam were tried for several years before verdict was passed, reflecting the lack of stringent and prompt action.

3. Inefficient Administration: The Indian bureaucracy has often been criticized for its procedural delays and red-tapism. Such inefficiency invites corruption due to the desire of citizens to bypass lengthy legal procedures. Popularly known as the ‘Chai-Pani’ bribe, it involves the practice of offering money for expediting work.

4. Political Corruption: Political leaders often abuse their power to amass personal wealth or to benefit their party. For example, the Indian coal allocation scam, popularly known as “Coalgate”, involved politicians and government officials illegally allocating coal deposits to private entities.

5. Nepotism and Favoritism: Widespread nepotism and favoritism in India are other root causes of corruption. It leads to the preferential treatment of unqualified candidates over deserving individuals, thereby undermining meritocracy. The politicians are infamous for favoring their relatives or ‘party loyalists’ for various government positions or contracts.

6. Social Acceptance: Unfortunately, in many parts of India, corruption is seen as a ‘necessary evil.’ The social acceptance of corruption builds a conducive environment for its propagation.


In Conclusion:

Understanding the basic causes of corruption is indispensable for evolving appropriate strategies to combat this vice. As a UPSC aspirant, it’s important to comprehend and analyze these facets of corruption. Policy measures should focus on promoting accountability, enhancing transparency, plugging administrative loopholes, and instilling a sense of ethics and integrity in society. Also, the judiciary needs to deliver swift and strict punishments to build a potent deterrent against corruption.

Perspectives on corruption and its underlying causes can be subjective, requiring a deeper understanding of socio-economic and political realities. As future public servants, it would be your responsibility to uphold the tenets of truth and integrity and help in establishing a corruption-free society.

Prince Luthra (UPSC CSE AIR 577)

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