Political Corruption Essay
Wrongdoing on the part of an authority or powerful party through means that are illegitimate, immoral, or incompatible with ethical standards. Corruption often results from patronage and is associated with bribery.
In economy, corruption is payment for services or material which the recipient is not due, under law. This may be called bribery.
Way back in 200 B.C., Kautilya meticulously described 40 different kinds of corruption in his Arthashastra. He has aptly commented: “Just as it is impossible not to taste honey or poison when it is at the tip of the tongue, so it is impossible for a government servant not to eat up a bit of revenue. And just as it cannot be found out whether a fish swimming through water drinks or not so also government servants cannot be found out while taking money for themselves.” Corruption is defined as moral depravity and influencing through bribery. Essentially, corruption is the abuse of trust in the interest of private gain. This normally involves business man and government.
The extortive type is the kind where the donor is compelled to bribe in order to avoid harm being inflicted upon his person or his interest. It is not difficult to locate the causes of corruption. Corruption breeds at the top and then gradually filters down to the lower levels. Gone are the days when people who joined politics were imbued with the spirit of serving the nation. Those who plunged themselves into the fight for freedom knew that there were only sacrifices to be made, no return was expected.
So only the selfless people came forward. But the modern politicians are of entirely different mould. They are not motivated by any lofty ideals. They win elections at a huge personal cost and then try to make the best of the opportunity they get. Powerful business magnates who are forced to give huge donations to political parties indulge in corrupt practices not only to make up their losses but also to consolidate their gains. Corruption in different fields
Collusion is an agreement between two or more persons, sometimes illegal and therefore secretive, to limit open competition by deceiving, misleading, or defrauding others of their legal rights, or to obtain an objective forbidden by law typically by defrauding or gaining an unfair advantage. Collusion is a corrupt activity. The different fields of corruption are
1. Political corruption
2. Police Corruption
3. Corporate corruption
4. Corruption in local Government
1. Political Corruption
Political corruption is the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality, is not considered political corruption. Neither are illegal acts by private persons or corporations not directly involved with the government. An illegal act by an officeholder constitutes political corruption only if the act is directly related to their official duties, is done under color of law or involves trading in influence. Forms of corruption vary, but include bribery, extortion, cronyism, nepotism, patronage, graft, and embezzlement. While corruption may facilitate criminal enterprise such as drug trafficking, money laundering, and human trafficking, it is not restricted to these activities.
The activities that constitute illegal corruption differ depending on the country or jurisdiction. For instance, certain political funding practices that are legal in one place may be illegal in another. In some cases, government officials have broad or poorly defined powers, which make it difficult to distinguish between legal and illegal actions. Worldwide, bribery alone is estimated to involve over 1 trillion US dollars annually. A state of unrestrained political corruption is known as a kleptocracy, literally meaning “rule by thieves”. When people in power indulge in corruption so unabashedly, the common man gets a kind of sanction. Ironically, instead of fighting against the menace of corruption, our political leaders declare it a worldwide phenomenon and accept it as something inevitable.
2. Police Corruption
Police corruption is a specific form of police misconduct designed to obtain financial benefits, other personal gain, and/or career advancement for a police officer or officers in exchange for not pursuing, or selectively pursuing, an investigation or arrest. One common form of police corruption is soliciting and/or accepting bribes in exchange for not reporting organized drug or prostitution rings or other illegal activities. Another example is police officers flouting the police code of conduct in order to secure convictions of suspects — for example, through the use of falsified evidence.
More rarely, police officers may deliberately and systematically participate in organized crime themselves. In most major cities there are internal affairs sections to investigate suspected police corruption or misconduct. Similar entities include the British Independent Police Complaints Commission. Police corruption is a significant widespread problem in many third world countries, such as Russia, Ukraine and Mexico.
3. Corporate Corruption
Corporate crime refers to crimes committed either by a corporation (i.e., a business entity having a separate legal personality from the natural persons that manage its activities), or by individuals acting on behalf of a corporation or other business entity (see vicarious liability and corporate liability). Some negative behaviours by corporations may not actually be criminal; laws vary between jurisdictions. For example, some jurisdictions allow insider trading. Corporate crime overlaps with:
• White-collar crime, because the majority of individuals who may act as or represent the interests of the corporation are white-collar professionals; • Organized crime, because criminals may set up corporations either for the purposes of crime or as vehicles for laundering the proceeds of crime. The world’s gross criminal product has been estimated at 20 percent of world trade. (de Brie 2000); and • State-corporate crime because, in many contexts, the opportunity to commit crime emerges from the relationship between the corporation and the state. 4. Corruption in Local Governments
There are several types of political corruption that occur in local government. Some are more common than others, and some are more prevalent to local governments than to larger segments of government. Local governments may be more susceptible to corruption because interactions between private individuals and officials happen at greater levels of intimacy and with more frequency at more decentralized levels. Forms of corruption pertaining to money like bribery, extortion, embezzlement, and graft are found in local government systems. Other forms of political corruption are nepotism and patronage systems.
Bribery is the offering of something which is most often money but can also be goods or services in order to gain an unfair advantage. Common advantages can be to sway a person’s opinion, action, or decision, reduce amounts fees collected, speed up a government grants, or change outcomes of legal processes.
Extortion is threatening or inflicting harm to a person, their reputation, or their property in order to unjustly obtain money, actions, services, or other goods from that person. Blackmail is a form of extortion.
Embezzlement is the illegal taking or appropriation of money or property that has been entrusted to a person but is actually owned by another. In political terms this is called graft which is when a political office holder unlawfully uses public funds for personal purposes.
Nepotism is the practice or inclination to favor a group or person who is a relative when giving promotions, jobs, raises, and other benefits to employees. This is often based on the concept of familism which believes that a person must always respect and favor family in all situations including those pertaining to politics and business. This leads some political officials to give privileges and positions of authority to relatives based on relationships and regardless of their actual abilities.
Patronage systems consist of the granting favors, contracts, or appointments to positions by a local public office holder or candidate for a political office in return for political support. Many times patronage is used to gain support and votes in elections or in passing legislation. Patronage systems disregard the formal rules of a local government and use personal instead of formalized channels to gain an advantage.
Corruption Perceptions Index
Since 1995, Transparency International (TI) publishes the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) annually ranking countries “by their perceived levels of corruption, as determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys.” The CPI generally defines corruption as “the misuse of public power for private benefit.” The results of the 2010 edition, as every year, are sobering. No region or country in the world is immune to the damages of corruption, the vast majority of them score below 5. The CPI has played a critical role in branding the issue of corruption on the world’s conscience. It sends a powerful message and national governments have been forced to take notice and act. The demand for public sector governance that keeps the interests of its citizens first with openness and accountability is not limited to a country or region – this is a common goal that transcends borders and cultures. The public sector is just one side of a multi-faceted problem though.
Transparency International conducts an array of global research, such as the Global Corruption Barometer, a world wide public opinion survey, and the Bribe Payers Index, which measures the likelihood of firms from leading exporting countries to bribe abroad, which taken together enables us to better comprehend the many sides of corruption. Corruption is notoriously difficult to measure. The complexity and secrecy that shroud corrupt deals mean that it is virtually impossible to quantify the financial cost of corruption.
The human expense is clear to see though, and it is the poorest that are most vulnerable. The diversity of victims that seek help from one of TI’s Advocacy and Legal Advice Centers shows that corruption can affect anyone. As we support these individuals, their personal triumphs are translated into systemic change – proving that corruption can be fought and beaten. It may be that the CPI scores are just a number to you, but for many people around the world it is their daily reality. It need not be so. As Huguette Labelle, Chair of Transparency International, notes, “These 180 countries in our index are your countries, and their perceived levels of corruption will remain as such until you demand accountability.”
India in Corruption Perception Index
India’s ranking in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index too has slipped from 84 to 87 in 2010. All this exhibits a problem that is not going anywhere soon and mocks the high moral ground that we aspire to occupy in the international arena. Corruption has afflicted all the organs of our society including the polity, bureaucracy, judiciary, police, businessmen, and even public at large. It has rendered our governance apparatus hollow and ineffective. Countless efforts to combat corruption have not made any significant dent into this hydra headed monster. The public perception of India has been extensively damaged by the corrupt activities of politicians, bureaucrats and business houses.
The telecom spectrum allocation scam – the biggest in the history of independent India – for which a minister, an MP and several corporate bosses are in jail and others are expected soon, the Commonwealth Games scandal in which the whole organizing committee, including the chairman are in jail, politicians grabbing prime real estate in housing Society meant for war widows in Mumbai, and the cash-for-vote scam involving parliamentarians have all badly eroded the public faith in government functioning in India.
Corruption is silently eating into the vitals of our nation like termite. Bit by bit, it is denting our dignity and compromising our soul. Not only does it affect only individuals but alarmingly it affects our nation as a whole.
India Against Corruption
India Against Corruption (IAC) is a citizen’s movement to demand strong anti-corruption laws. Lokpal bills were introduced several times since 1968, yet they were never passed by the Indian Parliament. After a fast by veteran social activist Anna Hazare and widespread protests by citizens across India the Government of India constituted a 10-member Joint Committee of ministers and civil society activists to draft an effective Jan Lokpal Bill. The primary focus of IAC movement is to ensure a strong Lokpal bill.
This corruption in India does not lead simply to cabinet portfolio shifts or newspaper headlines, but to massive human deprivation and even more extreme income inequalities. Combating corruption in the region is not just about punishing corrupt politicians and bureaucrats but also saving human lives. The IAC is a strictly voluntary organization and its participants are bound by the IAC code of conduct.
India Against Corruption Movement – Code Of Conduct
1. The movement is completely NONVIOLENT & PEACEFUL 2. It is INCLUSIVE & NON-DISCRIMINATORY. Encouraging every community regardless of religion, caste, language, region, culture, sex, age, profession, economic strata, etc. to be part of the movement and be treated equally. 3. The movement is completely SECULAR. Communalism is more dangerous than corruption. Also, the problems of this country cannot be solved without people from all faiths and religions coming together. 4. The volunteers should work in the spirit of SELFLESS SERVICE to fulfill the dream of realizing a strong Jan Lokpal Act for the country without expecting money, name, fame, recognition, etc. for oneself. 5. India Against Corruption is not a Sangathan or an NGO or any institution.
It is a people’s movement, a collective expression of the people of India fighting against corruption and seeking a better future. Therefore, the movement cannot have any branches. Rather than an organizational structure, it seeks to develop an efficient communication structure to enable free flow of ideas. Every person participating in the movement does so as a citizen of India with a burning desire to do something for the country. No person is a representative of Anna Hazare or in any other position. 6. FRATERNITY & UNITY. People should work with a feeling of brotherhood and avoid conflicts within a group or across groups. The forces opposite us are so powerful. We must stay united if we have to win over them.
Deficiencies in the present anti-corruption systems Central Government level:
At central Government level, there is Central Vigilance Commission, Departmental vigilance and CBI. CVC and Departmental vigilance deal with vigilance (disciplinary proceedings) aspect of a corruption case and CBI deals with criminal aspect of that case. Central Vigilance Commission: CVC is the apex body for all vigilance cases in Government of India. • However, it does not have adequate resources commensurate with the large number of complaints that it receives. CVC is a very small set up with a staff strength less than 200. It is supposed to check corruption in more than 1500 central government departments and ministries, some of them being as big as Central Excise, Railways, Income Tax etc. Therefore, it has to depend on the vigilance wings of respective departments and forwards most of the complaints for inquiry and report to them. While it monitors the progress of these complaints, there is delay and the complainants are often disturbed by this.
It directly enquires into a few complaints on its own, especially when it suspects motivated delays or where senior officials could be implicated. But given the constraints of manpower, such number is really small. • CVC is merely an advisory body. Central Government Departments seek CVC’s advice on various corruption cases. However, they are free to accept or reject CVC’s advice. Even in those cases, which are directly enquired into by the CVC, it can only advise government. CVC mentions these cases of non-acceptance in its monthly reports and the Annual Report to Parliament. But these are not much in focus in Parliamentary debates or by the media. • Experience shows that CVC’s advice to initiate prosecution is rarely accepted and whenever CVC advised major penalty, it was reduced to minor penalty. Therefore, CVC can hardly be treated as an effective deterrent against corruption. • CVC cannot direct CBI to initiate enquiries against any officer of the level of Joint Secretary and above on its own. The CBI has to seek the permission of that department, which obviously would not be granted if the senior officers of that department are involved and they could delay the case or see to it that permission would not be granted.
• CVC does not have powers to register criminal case. It deals only with vigilance or disciplinary matters. • It does not have powers over politicians. If there is an involvement of a politician in any case, CVC could at best bring it to the notice of the Government. There are several cases of serious corruption in which officials and political executive are involved together. • It does not have any direct powers over departmental vigilance wings. Often it is seen that CVC forwards a complaint to a department and then keeps sending reminders to them to enquire and send report. Many a times, the departments just do not comply. CVC does not have any really effective powers over them to seek compliance of its orders. • CVC does not have administrative control over officials in vigilance wings of various central government departments to which it forwards corruption complaints.
Though the government does consult CVC before appointing the Chief Vigilance Officers of various departments, however, the final decision lies with the government. Also, the officials below CVO are appointed/transferred by that department only. Only in exceptional cases, if the CVO chooses to bring it to the notice of CVC, CVC could bring pressure on the Department to revoke orders but again such recommendations are not binding. • Appointments to CVC are directly under the control of ruling political party, though the leader of the Opposition is a member of the Committee to select CVC and VCs. But the Committee only considers names put up before it and that is decided by the Government. The appointments are opaque.
• Therefore, though CVC is relatively independent in its functioning, it neither has resources nor powers to enquire and take action on complaints of corruption in a manner that meets the expectations of people or act as an effective deterrence against corruption. Departmental Vigilance Wings: Each Department has a vigilance wing, which is manned by officials from the same department (barring a few which have an outsider as Chief Vigilance Officer. However, all the officers under him belong to the same department). • Since the officers in the vigilance wing of a department are from the same department and they can be posted to any position in that department anytime, it is practically impossible for them to be independent and objective while inquiring into complaints against their colleagues and seniors.
If a complaint is received against a senior officer, it is impossible to enquire into that complaint because an officer who is in vigilance today might get posted under that senior officer some time in future. • There have been instances of the officials posted in vigilance wing by that department having had a very corrupt past. While in vigilance, they try to scuttle all cases against themselves. They also turn vigilance wing into a hub of corruption, where cases are closed for consideration. • Departmental vigilance does not investigate into criminal aspect of any case. It does not have the powers to register an FIR. • They also do not have any powers against politicians.
• Since the vigilance wing is directly under the control of the Head of that Department, it is practically impossible for them to enquire against senior officials of that department. • Therefore, , the vigilance wing of any department is seen to softpedal on genuine complaints or used to enquire against ” inconvenient” officers. CBI: CBI has powers of a police station to investigate and register FIR. It can investigate any case related to a Central Government department on its own or any case referred to it by any state government or any court. • CBI is overburdened and does not accept cases even where amount of defalcation is alleged to be around Rs 1 crore.
• CBI is directly under the administrative control of Central Government. • So, if a complaint pertains to any minister or politician who is part of a ruling coalition or a bureaucrat who is close to them, CBI’s credibility has suffered and there is increasing public perception that it cannot do a fair investigation and that it is influenced to to scuttle these cases. • Again, because CBI is directly under the control of Central Government, CBI is perceived to have been often used to settle scores against inconvenient politicians.
Therefore, if a citizen wants to make a complaint about corruption by a politician or an official in the Central Government, there isn’t a single anti-corruption agency which is effective and independent of the government, whose wrongdoings are sought to be investigated. CBI has powers but it is not independent. CVC is independent but it does not have sufficient powers or resources.
We are all part of this historic movement to eradicate corruption. Together, under the leadership of Anna Hazare, the “Jan Lokpal Bill” – a strong law to ensure swift and certain punishment to the corrupt political leaders and government officials is being drafted. Jan Lokpal Bill is a Law being made by the people and for the people. The success of this campaign depends entirely on us. So we have to support the fight for effective Jan Lokpal Bill.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 12 October 2016
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