Monday, November 29, 2010

Root cause 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 a 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 to 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 - - everyone 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 an 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 sees 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 becomes. 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 learns 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 policeman 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. Everyone is in water. Money and power are the only available tiny dry mounts where one can escape. Hence everyone 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 the 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, everyone 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 wielding 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 engages in it is doing so to ensure his FREEDOM   - -to avoid he and his children becoming helpless common citizens on 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 the constitutional directive to pass appropriate ordinances, and achieve the goal of enhancing and fully protecting the individual dignity of citizens at every walk of life, and at every juncture of the government-citizens meet.

Leaving aside the economic priority (that every country stride to achieve now erroneously) for a while, give the 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 of applications, representations and complaints of citizens pile up in every government office, ministers offices unopened, unseen and unacknowledged every day. RTIs relevance comes to 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 J. Palakudy.

He is a seeker and researcher in the fields of Mind and Reason, metaphysics, spirituality, Polity especially Democracy   
Note: This write-up has been submitted to the office of the Chief Vigilance Commissioner, Delhi during September 2010, against his press advertisement seeking such suggestions from public

Author's Twitter account: Voice of Philosophy@jopan1
His profile and other blogs:

Contact him:


  1. "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 !"

    With referance to this line, i would like to point out that i am left a little baffled with the meaning of FREEDOM and GREED. if its freedom thats being sought, then i probably do see a solution though it would a long way, but acoording to me its sheer undiluted GREED and somehow that is not satiable.

  2. Radhika, Thanks for the comments. When one look at the deep roots of animal instincts and energies,GREED is not found anywhere! Prey animals wander cool near a hunger satiated Lion! His GREED does not compel him to have more than what he needs. Hence, Greed is the result of distorted minds,distorted by negative social atmosphere.It is equally true with most of the negative traits in man.This insight might have prompted Nobel prized writer Albert Camus to say that 'an age can truly be called civilized only when it starts sending its criminals to mental asylums than jails.

    That is why corruption is less in countries where individual dignity is highly respected. Kindly look at other related blogs too for a complete idea on this proposition.
    Please keep in touch our NGO more !

  3. Thanks Mr. Joseph. i guess i do get some of what you say, but yet i feel it is quite "open" and does not attach individual responsibility. i mean everything cannot be left open to the SOCIETY. people need to be made accountable for their own individual actions. anyways, i guess its more of my restlessness and youth that is rubbing against your experience here.

  4. Abraham Have you ever considered that democracy per se is corrupt political system. You seem to have identified the root cause of the problem but I have identified that democracy in itself is a corrupt political system and whatever changes you may incorporate in democracy it just could not be practicable political system. Under materialistic philosophy democracy seems to be the only viable socio-political system but at its roots it is corrupt system. Now if there is a purpose of human life, which I have shown that there is a very well defined purpose of human life, then there is just one & only socio-political system of Monarchy under which peace & justice can prevail in the society & the world. The issue is thoroughly discussed in the very first chapter of my concept book 'Natural World Order & The Islamic thought' titled 'Impracticability of Democracy'.

  5. Dear Shafiq,Civilization never found moving on reverse mode so far, except at temporary intervals. Monarchy was an extension of the primordial arbitrary rule of of strongest man in the community. It was at the cost of great revolutions, deaths and suffering that mankind could save itself from the calamity of Monarchy.

    Democracy appear corrupt because, in its present avatar, it is a fake coin; it has been abducted by anti-people, anti-civilization political and economic forces. An awakened people could always reinvent it, and keep it just as a mandatory form of administering mankind's problems of collective living. We must remove Politics, a professional activity of its own sake, from modern democracy to save it. Going back to Monarchy is equal to preferring stone-age and going back to it !
    You are invited to share our blog: to know in depth of what democrcay must mean to modern civilization.