What are the basic causes of corruption
Title: Understanding the Basic Causes of Corruption: An Examination of the Indian Context
Corruption is an age-old malady that afflicts societies worldwide, debilitating the effectiveness of political institutions while impeding social and economic development. It ensures that resources intended to enhance the public good are diverted, potentially creating vast inequalities between citizens. For UPSC aspirants, understanding the nature, magnitude, and adverse impacts of corruption is crucial. In this regard, this article aims to outline and analyze the fundamental causes of corruption, using examples from India’s context.
1. Poor Governance and Weak Institutions: A notable cause of corruption lies in the lack of good governance, characterized by weakness in public institutions’ systems and processes. The inefficiencies link directly to low accountability and reduced transparency, providing individuals with opportunities to engage in corrupt practices without facing significant repercussions. In India, the 2G Spectrum Scam and the Coalgate Scam highlight severe governance deficiencies, leading to a considerable misappropriation of resources and corruption.
2. Political Patronage and Influence: This is mainly observed where political figures use their influence and power to obtain undeserved benefits. Political figures may unduly reward their supporters, leading to graft. The fodder scam in Bihar serves as an example, where influential political figures used their positions to defraud the exchequer of large sums of money intended for the purchase of cattle fodder.
3. Low Wages and Poor Working Conditions: Policymakers often overlook this correlation, but low wages, particularly in the public sector, can motivate employees to seek informal methods to supplement their income, hence encouraging corruption. For instance, reports have often pointed out corrupt practices among India’s traffic police, primarily attributed to their low remuneration.
4. Absence of Strong Press and Freedom of Speech: A thriving democracy requires free, unbiased media and unrestricted freedom of speech. These factors act as watchdogs, effectively keeping a check on corrupt practices. Censoring these platforms gives corruption a fertile breeding ground. For example, attacks on journalists and reporters in India, as per the Reports Without Borders, threaten the freedom of speech and hamper anti-corruption efforts.
5. Cultural Factors: The acceptance and normalization of corruption as a necessary evil in society can significantly exacerbate the situation. An attitude of accepting petty corruption like bribery in everyday life, as it is often seen in India, contributes to educating the public to become used to and even expect and depend on corruption.
6. Economic Inequality: When access to resources and wealth is unevenly distributed, it puts pressure on the underprivileged to resort to corrupt activities for survival. The incessant income inequality in India could be seen as a contributing factor towards corruption.
7. Inefficient Legal System: A slow and cumbersome legal system can discourage victims from reporting corruption. Cases like Abdul Karim Telgi’s Stamp Paper Scam in India reflect how a lethargic legal system could possibly encourage corruption.
It is imperative for UPSC aspirants to understand that corruption, being a multifaceted problem, requires a comprehensive approach. The issue cannot be addressed solely through punitive actions. Instead, it demands robust institutions, systemic reforms, a vibrant civil society, and a comprehensive transformation of societal attitudes to foster a culture of integrity, transparency and accountability. By delving into the intricacies of the issue, aspirants can prepare themselves to combat corruption and, thereby, foster a more equitable society.