You must be thinking, ‘What does this title mean? Corruption and I? After all, it’s the government that’s corrupt. It’s the bureaucracy. It’s the police, the clerks, the babus. It’s the entire system that’s corrupt.’
But, let me ask you this- what is this ‘system’ that we talk about?
Most dictionaries define it as a set of procedures and routines formulated to perform a specific activity or to solve a problem. In our case, it is a set of laws, regulations and procedures that have been established to make us function as a civilized society. But, the most inherent and intrinsic part of this system is us. It’s you and me that the system consists of. It’s you and me who can ‘make or break’ the system. Our system either performs well or is corrupt because of all of us.
So who are we really blaming here when we say- ‘The system is corrupt’, or who do we want to change when we say- ‘The system needs an overhaul’?
My dear well meaning citizens- I know we all agree that we need a significant change. But, we’ve also got to agree that any significant change starts with one step at a time; and we all can contribute towards taking that first step. That step could be yours …
Let’s start at a basic level. Before approaching the solution, let’s honestly lay down the issue before ourselves. I believe the issue is that we have accepted every day corruption, paying ‘petty bribes’ and getting ahead in the line through ‘connections’ as a part of our routine lives. We boast of personal connections that got us ahead in the queue so we didn’t have to wait as much. We don’t mind paying a small amount of money to clerks so they can move our cases up in the queue. We pay money to traffic policemen so we are not assigned a traffic ticket. We pay an extra to get our driver’s licences easily. We pay bribes when it comes to passport offices, electricity bills, phone bills … the list may be endless.
But, here, you may argue that, ‘unless you pay the bribe, however petty it may be, your work may never get done.’ Not every time. The truth is that we have lost trust in our system and now we don’t even try denying the bribe demanded of us. Often we bribe others ourselves. This has become a norm and it only fuels corruption. For corruption is a two-way street; there is someone who demands a bribe and someone who is willing to pay the bribe. This street will be closed if we curb the traffic on either side. We may have to stand in the queue longer, we may have a delay in getting our DLs, passports, etc., but it’s all of us who will benefit in the long run. This may be just a baby step towards an effort to stop corruption given the large-scale scandals prevalent in our country today; but it is a step that must be taken soon!
As a society we have to take a stand and pledge ourselves against corruption. Unless it is eliminated at grassroots level, the entire system can’t be cleansed of it. We can put a check on corruption and eventually eliminate it if we, as citizens, recognize and understand our individual responsibility towards rooting it out- not only as a personal commitment to ourselves and our future generations but also as promise to our community, our society and our country.
For ‘Corruption and I’ must never go hand in hand.