Those facilitators who form the crux of the State are the primary players in this ever continuing conundrum. But is it right to say that the fire of corruption is kept alight by the greed of the powerful alone? We have always seen corruption to be a negative phenomenon with respect to a common man, but is it so? When a whole nation is against the notion of corruption how does it manage to flourish? It is a natural law that, for something to continuously survive, its preconditions need to exist.
What Makes Corruption Survive?
So, what are the preconditions of corruption? A benefactor, a beneficiary and a benefit. Benefit or the bribe can be of monetary or non-monetary form. Conventional wisdom says that the benefactors are the public and the beneficiaries are bureaucrats, politicians and other State agents (police, judiciary etc.). People could have stopped this malice at any point of time by simply not being the benefactors for, only in very few cases is money made to be forcibly paid under physical threat. In other words, if you see the act of bribery as an act of voluntary economic transaction, we realize that bribe is one of the goods being exchanged for a certain service offered by the beneficiaries. From this perspective, the beneficiaries are the State agents who offer a speedy and efficient public service, which they should have otherwise provided without the need of any bribe.
The administrative machine of our State is so complex that getting quick service is actually a privilege. And this privilege comes at a certain cost in the form of bribe.A common man today cannot stand in line for weeks and run from one office to another to get signatures from tens of people to get his job done. The world is moving very fast and the Indian economy has become fast enough to compete at a global level. But the lack of innovation and improvement in administrative service is costing us dearly and forms the foundations of corruption. This is nothing but supply regulation. That is, there is a demand in the social market for goods and efficient governance. This demand is catered to by officials who know the loopholes of the laws and regulations for which bribe is the fee.
Need for Quality Governance
Quality governance is the demand. Public needs it, officials provide it and bribe is the price. This when not understood leads to the misconceived perception that those who take the bribe stand more to gain from those who give the bribe. But even if punishment is enforced on those who give bribe, we are again meddling with the consumer base without effectively doing anything to diminish the nature of demand. The political development in India is greatly stunted due to lack of active participation by civil society primarily during elections and almost nil thereafter. What this implies is that the changing demands of the people go unattended due to a lack of voice to ask for it. During elections, we exchange vote for promise of good governance. Note that vote is exchanged for merely a promise of good governance and not good governance itself. Whether someone after getting elected to power is able to keep the promise is one issue but what happens when s/he does not? In that case another party claims to provide the same service, but the bottom line is that voting doesn’t ensure good governance. Why? The only way to ensure good governance is by active participation by those creating the demand for it – the people.
Leo Akshay Shah
Member Of Leo Club Of Juhu.