Monday, November 29, 2010

Causes of corruption – a psychological and philosophical inquiry.

For every court of law, knowing the motive behind the crime is considered very central for conviction. Hence, our attempt is to probe into the psychological and philosophical motive behind corruption.

There is no two opinions about what human beings want in life - -happiness. Mere food and shelter wouldn't make him happy. Otherwise slaves and bonded people also would have been happy. What makes man happy is freedom. More than food and shelter, what he always apprehensive about is his freedom. Unlike animals, this is the central aspect of human nature. His worst fears are about  living under any one's else will!

But he was not free in this meaning throughout history. Under older regimes of Kings, Royals and foreign invaders, he was a mere victim of the ones in power. He had no say. His traditional role was to obey and submit.

Democracy was meant to liberate man from this bondage under 3rd party rulers. It was  supposed to be the embodiment of man’s collective sweet will and wisdom.  The laws framed under such collective common sense were with the exclusive purpose of ensuring his freedom and dignity.

 But alas ! Due to causes and circumstances unknown or unsought till date, our  democracy also turned out to be not dissimilar to the old regimes! Citizens rights and dignity, though well documented in paper law, is a far dream under today's democratic governance too.

Citizens are despised and scorned at government offices. He is made to feel an outsider in the system. He is made to fear the government. Its agents con him and threaten him. Laws, which were intended to liberate him are used to trap him!  The relation of government with its people is more or less felt  like that between a predator and prey!

Due to this sad turn of our democracy, the biggest democracy in the world, not only people, our leader class and bureaucrats are also victims of the above fear of losing one's dignity and self-hood from the hands of the fiercely impersonal government machinery! No villains here - -every one is a victim. The chief cause is a great ideal got twisted and disfigured in the course of its development.

The chain reaction of the malady

Due to the above found causes, we have turned a people with less than adequate feeling of self worth.

One with no self respect can not ever respect the other person. He will be able to see the other  the way he see himself. Hence he will have no hesitation to violate the self-respect of the other. We often wound each other.

The more the severity of the wound inflicted, the more hardened the other become. These severely wounded people lose their very feeling of self hood, like an atom whose nucleus got displaced. Such people naturally become antisocial elements. They mostly constitute the criminal strata in the society.

The moment one’s sense of self-hood is severely violated by another person, or a government, or its agencies like the police, a future criminal, or an extremist, or tyrant is surely born.

When citizens routinely find that keeping one’s individual dignity is difficult, he painfully learn to abandon it. It is a burden to carry. Once men abandon their dignified self identity this way, they start enjoying a kind of freedom   -- - the  freedom of immorality ! This is a dangerous social problem.

Here those who try to be law abiding and straight are laughed at. We usually see in India how difficult it is for an honest government official or a police man to exist among his corrupt colleagues! This is a sure and certain chain reaction in a society or country, where  basic individual dignity requirements of its people are not met !

 Means available to man to ensure his freedom in the chaos

For ensuring freedom and respect of a person, the available two means are money and power. We repeat, money and power are only means to ensure freedom of a person. They are not ends in itself.

It is like a flood situation. Every one is in water. Money and power are the only available tiny dry mounts where one can escape. Hence every one is trampling upon each other to reach there. There a is a maddening struggle for grabbing it.

Hence the old world  masters of caste, community and  money use democracy as a route to ensure their old hold over the system and people.  Fight among professional political parties to grab governmental power is the chief game of democracy. Peoples welfare and the chief purpose of ensuring his dignified self worth etc are secondary priorities. They are unavoidable burdens of elected governments.

When the above negative priorities remain at the helm as the chief game, and the controlling motives behind the drama of politics, the others associated with government like bureaucrats and ordinary governments servants are forced to follow the example!!  It is plain, simple and transparent fact of life in our democracy - - except a small minority, every one who seek governmental power is doing it for the purpose of amassing wealth,and for ensuring FREEDOM FOR HIMSELF, and FOR HIS NEXT GENERATION. There is no guarantee under democracy that one's individuality and dignity will ever be safe and protected by the system. It is virtually a no man's business. It is a sad turn out of our experiments with democracy!

Due to excess power in the hands of government officials, citizens rights and his justice are mere disillusions - -he can expect to have his RIGHTS only as possible MERCY from those wield power!  Power and rights always remain as opposite poles. 

Next option, if not mercy, is to buy RIGHTS AND JUSTICE ! Yes - -
corruption is nothing but the buying and selling of citizens rights and justice for a price! The one who engage in it is doing so to ensure his FREEDOM   - -to avoid he, and his children becoming  helpless common citizens in the street one day !

Possible Solutions

1) We have diagnosed the root cause.  Hence the solution is now clear. The FRATERNITY clause in the constitution, an item that the founding fathers had rationally put as one of the very motives for the existence of Indian state, should be implemented in letter and spirit in country governance. A panel of eminent legal and constitutional experts to be formed immediately to use this piece of constitutional directive to pass appropriate ordinances, and achieve the goal of enhancing and fully protecting individual dignity of citizens at every walk of life, and at every juncture of government-citizens meet.

Leaving aside the economic priority (that every country  stride to achieve now erroneously) for a while, give fullest trust to help man to gain his dignified status and feeling of self-worth. One should keep in mind the example of the developed western countries - -it was rather due to this primary thrust that helped them reach  present heights.

2) A law for 'citizens right to be heard' should be formatted  to make government machinery accountable. Thousands applications, representations and complaints of citizens pile up in every government office, ministers offices unopened, unseen and unacknowledged every day. RTIs relevance comes of use only after such a more preliminary law is passed. This will definitely reduce citizens reactions like  strikes, mass protests, hartals and the extreme steps like naxalism and maoism.

3) Media should be encouraged to take up such fundamental causes of strengthening democracy. A silent, meaningful campaign by media to make people aware of such unknown ideals of democracy will definitely help to redefine citizens life. As the largest democracy in the world, it is our moral responsibility to undertake the exercise of reinventing democracy, and  render lessons and example to other many fake democracies in the world.

BY: Abraham Joseph,Conscience of the society- an NGO for philosophic initiatives into causes of Reason, Fraternity and reinventing democracy. 
Note: This write-up has been submitted to the office of the Chief Vigilance Commissioner, Delhi during September 2010,against press advertisement seeking such suggestions from public