CORRUPTION AND ITS IMPACT ON THE SOCIETY
The menace of corruption has links to a multitude of vices. Its roots are linked to injustice, mistrust, suspicion, extremism and terrorist activities. It creates a sense of insecurity, exacerbates poverty and adds to the misfortune of the vulnerable segments of the society. It also instills a sense of hopelessness and despondency and threatens the strength of good values which have been established over centuries of civilized struggle.
The word “Corruption” has its origin in a Latin verb “corruptus” meaning “to break”. Literally, it means “a broken object”. In simple words, corruption means “the misuse of entrusted power for private benefit.” Conceptually, corruption is a form of behavior which departs from ethics, morality, tradition, law and civic virtue.
The term corruption has various definitions. The United Nations Manual on Anti-Corruption, the Transparency International, and the multilateral financial institutions like the World Bank and Asian Development Bank define corruption as, “abuse of public office for private gains” The National Anti Corruption Strategy (NACS) has defined corruption as “a behavior on the part of office holders in the public or private sector whereby they improperly and unlawfully enrich themselves and/or those close to them, or induce others to do so, by misusing the position in which they are placed.”
Section 9 of the National Accountability Ordinance 1999 has defined corruption and corrupt practices in a comprehensive manner. It has enlisted about twelve different shades of corruption. Illegal gratifications, bribery, extortion, abuse of office, fraud, cheating and criminal breach of trust are some of the corrupt practices mentioned in the NAO 1999 (Annex A). Starting with the Prevention of Corruption Act 1947, there are about sixty pieces of enactments and rules that deal with offences of corruption and corrupt practices in Pakistan (Annex B).
The ultimate victim of corruption and poverty is the human dignity itself. Hence corruption causes breach in the social order and emerges as a potential threat to the prosperity, peace and stability of human civilization across the globe. Corruption in government spending leads to serious reduction in impact of development program and results in perpetual increase in cost of maintenance of public assets.
The primary responsibility of ensuring the culture of sound management or what we generally call good governance lies directly on shoulders of the civil administration. In a democratic dispensation, the process of accountability starts at the first stage of the “conversion process” – the elections, which is the connecting link between the rulers and the ruled. It is at this stage that the foundation of sound and transparent political culture could be laid. The electorate ought to carefully demonstrate their first choice (right to vote) of the process and to exercise their right only under the dictates of their conscience. In return, the rulers who are the custodians of the political environs ought to honour the trust reposed in them and to judiciously exercise the powers they derive from that trust. In order to ensure consistency and sustainability of an accountable, transparent and open political process, it is imperative to keep the connecting link intact.
On independence, Pakistan inherited weak political institutions. Performance of these institutions in the country over the years further damaged the culture of transparency and accountability. Admittedly, efforts at establishing a strong political dispensation have been facing frustrations head on but these institutions have also failed to capitalize upon the available opportunities. Their internal democratic traditions are still weak and non transparent. Due to lack of respect for participative values, the mainstream political parties are generally dominated by a single person.
The corporate sector is also littered with failures due to corrupt practices. Scandals in the corporate sector are subjects of headlines in the media. Wrong practices seem too common, and unacceptable behavior has become a normal practice. Corporate governance has been practiced only in form and not substance. Chairmen, chief executive officers and directors are appointed on the basis of political and personal clout. Merit is a less visible commodity. Thus politicization and inefficiency at the top management levels has resulted in steep decline in the quality of output. Illegal convergence of interest has encouraged insider trading which causes frustration and setback to the genuine investor. Real demand and supply factors have negligible role in shaping the market behavior which is predominantly controlled by the middleman. Prices are determined by unscrupulous profiteers through the middleman mafia. Counterfeit products have flooded the markets. Consumers are left with no option but to live with inferior quality stuff. There is no effective consumer's rights protection regime. The monopoly control mechanism has turned out to be of least effect. The Monopoly Control Authority has to be improved to play an effective role in curbing the menace that has infected the corporate sector.
Need and greed are cited as the reasons of corruption and corrupt practices. Need as a reason is applied to low paid employees specially those entrusted with service delivery powers and public contact. Corruption occurs out of compulsion, as those indulging in corruption are in need of the basic necessities and lack access to social entitlement. However, need very easily merges with greed once need is taken as a justification by those indulging in corruption and corrupt practices. It is because of this fact that corruption is linked to poverty which is termed as corruption of need. Absence of an ethical base in societal attitudes is also cited as one of the root causes of corruption.
Corruption and corrupt practices are indicative of breaches in the governance edifice. They pose serious threats to the sanctity of ethical and democratic values and weaken administrative, political and social institutions. The issues of corruption, poverty and governance are cross cutting. These issues, put together, form an integral part of the development literature. Recently, the terms governance and good governance are being profusely used in such literature. Good governance remains at the forefront of every aspect of our life, be that political, social or economic. Governance has to be good in its manifestation, and if it is not so, it is certainly no governance at all. The mere suffix or prefix of the term 'good' does not serve the purpose.
The essential components of good governance are the RULE OF LAW, accountability, transparency and predictability. The RULE OF LAW means equal application of law, equal protection by law and equality before law. In the absence of the RULE OF LAW, institutions get weak and become hatcheries for corrupt practices. The realization of the goals of good governance and prosperity becomes a myth.
Major causes of corruption in Pakistan are as follows:
a. Lack of effective Internal accountability mechanism
b. Discretionary powers and their flagrant abuse by the public office holder’s
c. Absence of and weakness of the watch-dog agencies
d. Elected government's perpetual failure to develop proper ethical and business
1. standards for the public and private sector
e. Political leaders' incompetence and betrayal of public trust with penchant for
f. Lack of transparency in the government's decision-making process
g. Lengthy and cumbersome procedures in the executive system
h. Weaknesses in the judicial system
i. Illiterate, apathetic or ignorant populace with inadequate discernment of
3. political choices
j. Power of influential people
k. Inadequate wage envelope
LOVE all, TRUST a few, do WRONG to none......
Last edited by Silent.Volcano; Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 08:42 PM.
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Corruption is authority plus monopoly minus transparency. Our society is facing a very grave problem of corruption that has threatened basic foundations of society. This is one of the most serious problems which are not natural calamity or disaster. Corruption is the cancer that will gobble up all the socio-economic and political achievements.
The major reasons of fast creeping corruption are political instability, poverty, unequal structure of society, unemployment, lack of accountability, weak political institutions and absence of rule of law. Resultant they are affecting political stability, equal distribution of resources and power, confidence of local and foreign investors and political institutions.
Although corruption has wide-ranging deleterious effects on society and governance but its most deadly impact is always on the poor. It undermines democracy, hinders in good governance and weakens the democratic institutions. It hampers the economic growth and sustainable developments. Increase in corruption in any society is inversely proportional to good governance.
If these suggestions and practical measures are taken, the cancer of corruption can be cured to reasonable extent. Institutions should be made strong for proper working of the democratic system. Proper system of accountability and check and balance should be implemented. Justice delayed is justice denied. In time justice can minimize corruption practices.
Salaries and wages should be increased in order to decrease the chances of corruption. Education system must be revised and improved according to national needs. Stable governments are essential to prevail justice and to uproot corruption and public awareness is must to eliminate corruption.
It is multi-faceted problem so it should be countered on all possible fronts with sincerity. We must reform ourselves. Only proper planning and strictly implemented policies with public support can put halt to this growing menace.
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