Corrupt man corrupts society
Kinds of corruption
a. Moral corruption
b. Political corruption
c. Economic corruption
Impacts of corruption
a. Social Impacts
i. Lack of trust
ii. Nepotism, cronyism and favouritism
iii. Merit is killed
iv. Crisis of unemployment
v. Abysmal poverty
vi. Anarchy in society
b. Political Impacts
i. Political instability
ii. Precarious law and order situation
iii. Military interventions
iv. Crisis of leadership
c. Economic Impacts
i. Dependency on foreign aid
ii. Burden of debt
iii. High inflation
iv. Impeded economic activities
v. Low per capita income
vi. Low savings and investments
Fate of good governance
How to eradicate this menace?
i. Zero tolerance
ii. Supremacy of rule of law
iii. Strong and apolitical institutions
iv. Awareness through education
iv. Media campaigns for a corruption-free society
Political instability, economic backwardness, widespread social ills, declining moral values and lack of development, all are the progeny of corruption. Corruption is like a cancer that eats up the very social, political and economic fabric of a society. Nepotism, cronyism, favouritism, disregard for merit, soaring unemployment rates and poverty become rampant and an acute sense of mistrust in state institutions is created among the people. Since it erodes the economy, a country becomes dependent on foreign aid and internal and external debts, high inflation, low per capita income and low savings and investments frustrate all efforts on economic revival. In political arena, it creates political instability, worsens law and order situation, gives way to military interventions and causes an acute leadership crisis. In a situation where a society socially, politically and economically remains disturbed, countless hurdles are created in the way of good governance. Thus, it can be said that corruption is the mother of all these evils. In order to eradicate this evil, there is a pressing need to have zero tolerance against corruption besides ensuring rule of law and making state institutions strong and apolitical. And, in this regard dissemination of education through media campaigns can play a pivotal role.
To make drinking water a killing stuff, only a drop of poison is needed. Corruption plays the same role in destroying a society, or more rightly a state. With his corrupt actions and deeds, a corrupt man inflicts miseries on the people as they have to resort to using unfair means for doing, having or achieving something.
That’s why it is said that a corrupt man corrupts the whole society.
In its meanings, ‘corruption’ is a broad term; it is not limited to bribery only; rather it permeates moral, social, political and economic spheres as well. The evil of corruption is found in many forms and manifestations with moral, political and economic forms being the most prominent ones.
As regards the matter of moral corruption, it’s a combination of two terms i.e. ‘moral’ and ‘corruption’. When these two terms are combined, several definitions of ‘moral corruption’ pop up; first is that one’s view of what is right and good is simply upended or does not remain in line with the agreed standards and ethical practices of a society. Second aspect is that one tries to achieve some goals that may be moral but the ways and means for achieving it are illegal or unfair — a concept described by Plato as ‘honest lies’. Third, a person is an outright corrupt in terms of morality. For instance, a student who doesn’t do his homework with honesty is morally corrupt; a citizen who shows disloyalty to the state is also a morally-corrupt individual. In fine, to be moral is to have a sense of what is right, good and trustworthy, and a corrupt person has no morals as he is dishonest and untrustworthy in his conduct.
Under the term political corruption, also fall the actions of those in the political arena. They may be politicians or state functionaries or government employees who seek illegitimate gains by making an unfair use of their positions. In this form of corruption, favouritism, misuse and abuse of public office, disregard for merit are the oft-seen phenomena. When politicians make laws for their own personal gains and interests, they do also commit corruption, as they fail to perform the duty for which they have been elected and sent to the corridor of power.
Economic corruption is another manifestation of corrupt practices. Taking bribes, making underhand deals and receiving kickbacks and commissions; all fall under the economic corruption category.
After briefly discussing some means and manifestations of corruption, let’s now have an overview of the hazardous impacts of this menace.
Corruption impacts, by and large, each and every aspect of a society or a state. There is hardly any field of life that could stay immune to its adverse impacts that range from social to political to economic spheres.
Insofar as the matter of social impacts of corruption is concerned, the chief among them is to the social life; it creates in public a resentment against state institutions and distrust in government. Moreover, due to the ills of nepotism, cronyism and favouritism, and with an utter disregard to merit, a society plunges into an abyss where it has to face perpetual crises of unemployment, backwardness and poverty, which are the basic causes of radicalisation and terrorism. When corruption becomes a part of system or, in more appropriate words, becomes a system in itself, people lose trust even in their elected representatives. They believe that such a system serves the interests of only a few privileged ones, and not the public at large.
Moreover, nepotism and favouritism are like a death blow to merit. In such an environment, meritocracy can never come by. Here, it is pertinent to say that the death of merit is the death of talent and the death of talent is the death of a progressive, developed society.
Furthermore, a system wherein the relatives and friends of some influential people are favoured effects an increase in unemployment because the deserving people are discriminated against and crème de la crème of a society is rendered jobless. Such crisis of unemployment has deleterious ramifications for the society.
Thus, lack of trust, evils of nepotism and favouritism, disregard for merit and crisis of unemployment generate chaos and anarchy which further gives rise to suicides, targeted killings, religious or ethnic hatred, enmity and crimes, hence, become the order of the day.
However, the impacts of corruption are not limited to social sphere only; it has political offshoots too. It not only disturbs the social fabric of a society but also devastates the political structure, as it leads to political instability, precarious law and order situation and military interventions as there is an acute crisis of a true, farsighted and visionary leadership.
The phenomenon of ‘Arab Spring’, which saw widespread demonstrations in the cities and streets of some Arab countries against the corrupt ruling elites, bears testimony to this fact. People were frustrated from the corrupt and self-centred governments, and they took out to streets to overthrow them, and to gain their rights. Thus, it can be rightly said that corruption begets more and more problems.
The cancer of corruption also plagues the economic sphere of a country. It won’t be an exaggeration to say that the good of one is the good of all, and vice versa. Impacts of corruption on economic spheres include more and more dependency on foreign aid, rising internal and external debts, skyrocketing inflation, lack of economic opportunities, low per capita income and meagre savings and investments.
In a state, where political bigwigs, influential bureaucrats and even those doing ordinary jobs are involved in corruption, progress and economic development remains an elusive dream. Huge spending on protocols and luxurious lifestyles of government functionaries eats up the budget that would otherwise be spent on public welfare. Thus, the governments have no option but to borrow from international financial institutions and other countries in order to meet their development expenditures. This raises a country’s dependency on foreign aid.
And, in order to pay back the internal and external debts, governments resort to raising taxation rates and the poor segment of society gets hard hit by this as inflation becomes uncontrollable. In this way, a vicious circle of poverty is created.
Now, it has become evidently clear that corruption is the root cause of all evils in a society. And, to eradicate all these evils, curbing corruption is more than necessary. In this regard following suggestions can be of pivotal importance:
First of all, it is imperative that the state adopts a policy of zero tolerance against corruption. In this regard, we can learn from the example of China where high officials, who are found guilty of corruption, are handed down exemplary punishments. Whosoever is found involved in such ill-practices, must be made an example in Pakistan as well so that people have to think hundreds of times before doing any such thing.
Second most important issue is the supremacy of the rule of law. Rule of law must be ensured at all costs. In corruption cases, zero tolerance can be effected only when the law of the land reigns supreme.
Another prerequisite for a corruption-free society is the establishment of strong apolitical institutions. Such institutions should be free and highly-empowered to deal with such cases. Docile and politicized institutions cannot control, let alone to eradicate, corruption.
No sane person would deny that the most effective weapon against corruption is education, which is rightly called a panacea and an antidote to all forms and manifestations of the poison of corruption. In the words of the great Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” So, there is a dire need to make the youth aware of the deleterious impacts corruption has on a society. The government must make anti-corruption campaign a part of textbooks from the very elementary level. This will inculcate a recognition in the minds of students as to how corruption eats up the very foundations of a society and a state. Media should also be used as a highly effective tool to disseminate awareness on the hazards of corruption. It can serve as a constructive tool to eradicate corruption. Through media, the state should initiate full-fledge campaign for a corruption-free society.
In conclusion, it can be said that corruption is the mother of all ills. It destroys the very fabric of a society. The virus of corruption makes dysfunctional the whole structure of the state. In short, it undermines social, political and economic infrastructure of the states. Unless and until corruption is curbed, a state cannot achieve the goal of progress and development and of achieving a respectable opposition in the global comity of nations.
The writer is a student of Political Science at University of Peshawar.