Before we start today’s post, I want to wish all of you a very Happy Dussehra to all the readers. On the day that signifies the victory of good over evil, I thought of making today’s post about the nation’s fight against the Social Evils. Hopefully, the good shall triumph over the evil in this fight as well and all the issues plaguing our society will soon be eradicated.
This is Bhausaheb Bhawar from Hasnabad village in Maharashtra’s Jalna district. The board attached on the handlebar of his bicycle reads “5th Time All India Expedition. Nationwide cycling for national integration, eradication of dowry, female foeticide and drug addiction.” He has been pedalling throughout the country for the past 27 years to spread awareness of social evils. Last year, he started his sixth bicycle tour.
Unlike most cross-country awareness drives from Kashmir to Kanyakumari that start and end on one national highway, he has pedalled through every district of the country. It usually takes him four-and-a-half years to complete touring the country. His first three expeditions were continuous from 1993 to 2006. He returned to Hasnabad that year and started his fourth one in January 2007. He completed it and started the fifth without returning home.
People like these have inspired me to write today’s blog. There are a number of social evils that persist in our country and they certainly cannot be all covered in a single blog post. Hence, today we will discuss about the evil that directly or indirectly affects each citizen and has been faced by almost everyone at some point in their life.
Corruption comes in different forms that impacts growth, impoverishes the poor and impedes the access to services such as health, education and justice. Corruption drives up the cost and reduces the quality of the products and services in every industry. Empirical studies have shown that the poor pay the highest percentage of their income in bribes. Every stolen or misdirected rupee robs the poor of an equal opportunity in life and prevents governments from investing in their human capital. It, thus, erodes the trust in the government and undermines the sanctity of government contracts.
Transparency International is a German non-governmental organisation founded in 1993. It releases a Corruption Perceptions Index every year which ranks countries “by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, as determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys.”
As per the Global Corruption Barometer – Asia Pacific – 2017, 41% of people in India thought corruption increased in the previous 12 months, while 63% of public service users paid a bribe in the previous 12 months.
The annual Kroll Global Fraud Report notes that India has among the highest national incidences of corruption (25%). The same study also notes that India reports the highest proportion reporting procurement fraud (77%) as well as corruption and bribery (73%).
Tackling corruption in India:
India’s liberalisation should have ideally curtailed corruption but it failed to have that effect. Despite the reduction of powers of the government, the growth of the economy heavily benefitted the government and its servants.
Even though the policymakers cannot be trusted with enforcing strong laws against corruption as they are the main beneficiaries of corruption. But having strong and enforceable policies against corruption is crucial to the fight against it. In India, the law relating to corruption is broadly governed by the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) and the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (POCA).
The United Nations Convention Against Corruption, UNCAC is a comprehensive convention that provides for domestic rules and treatment of transactions with foreign officials as well. An important provision of UNCAC that is missing in India’s corruption laws is preventive anti-corruption policies and practices. There are also some expressions in the legal framework of India which have unintended consequences in its enforcement.
Behind every great fortune, there is a crime.The Godfather, Mario Puzo, Signet, 1969
With the digitisation of various government services, such as passport issuance, etc., the petty bribery is being controlled but the bigger forms of corruption are still flourishing. Certain actions announced by the government such as the e-assessment of income tax, which seeks to eliminate the human interface between the taxpayer and the income tax department are also going to play a major role in the reduction of corrupt practices.
India’s culture cannot be changed, from corrupt to clean, simply by relying on the government to enact and enforce laws. Such a movement can succeed only if young and idealistic workers, consumers, entrepreneurs, managers, educators and the media all play their part and constitute a coalition against corruption. It is incumbent upon all of us to not go the efforts of people like Bhausaheb Bhawar to not go to waste.
So the next time you violate a traffic rule, pay a fine and not a bribe. Can you do so and contribute to a corruption-free India and fight against the social evils plaguing our nation? Tell us your views in the comments.
See you next week, until then…
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