There are three reasons why citizens must fight corruption:
First, corruption is the most important cause of the terribly bad public services that we endure. The fact that we do not get proper electricity or water supply, our properties have no protection, our streets are not safe, our police is so inefficient, our courts are slow, our buses and autos don't run, our roads are terrible, can be traced back to corruption as the main reason. These public services are our entitlements. These are not favours dispensed from above.
Second, corruption has a huge economic cost. First, where there is corruption, it makes legitimate transactions difficult. Second, it perpetuates misgovernance, by destroying any incentive for the government to reduce red tape. Slow and convoluted processes are a brake on economic growth. If we combat corruption, our life will become a lot easier and prosperity will grow.
Third, corruption erodes legitimate values, because it unjustifiably enriches people who do not add any economic value to the system. This sends the wrong message to people, that anything goes and that the ends justify the means, however illegal. This weakens civilized society. Corruption thus creates a system where distrust pervades our everyday life; where we are suspicious of our government and it is suspicious of us in turn. And of course, we distrust each other!
In the long term, corruption causes serious damage to the governance of the country and thus affects everybody, including the person who thinks he did a smart thing by paying a bribe. Ultimately, nobody in the country can escape from the damage that corruption causes. Misgovernance touches all of us.
Yet, many of us wish it away, look the other way, or even justify it, saying that it is inevitable and unavoidable. Some even go to the extent of saying that nothing should be done about it; that it's a form of gift giving consistent with local social mores and given the dysfunctional modes of service delivery, that it is economically efficient.
There are 7 common heard excuses for accepting & condoning corruption:
- Corruption is everywhere.
- Corruption always existed.
- Concept is vague and culturally determined.
- Cleansing will require whole change in attitudes & values.
- Corruption is not harmful; it is the grease that moves the economic engine.
- Nothing can be done if the top is corrupt and corruption is systematic.
- Don't worry, with free markets, it will eventually go away.
None of these excuses hold any water. Corruption causes serious damage to the governance of the country. Nobody in the country can escape from the damage that corruption causes. Anybody who justifies corruption has only to look around at how dysfunctional most of our public services are. The fact that we do not get proper electricity or water supply, our properties have no protection, our streets are not safe, our police is so inefficient, our courts are slow, our buses and autos don't run, our roads are terrible, can be traced back to corruption as the main reason. These public services are our entitlements. These are not favours dispensed from above.
There is also no need to be pessimistic about corruption. Countries have cleaned up very dramati- cally. It has happened in Hong Kong and Bolivia, and the process by which it has been done has been documented. We in India can do it, if we work together as a team. If corrupt people form teams, why can't honest people also team up? Ipaidabribe.com is aiming to get citizens as a group to become intolerant of corruption. We have to overcome the fear factor. We have to realize we are not alone and build a sense of community, of standing up for each other.