Are common people equally corrupt?

Flights Of Fantasy

[ M Panging Pao ]

Common people generally blame leaders, politicians, bureaucracy, officials and organisations for nepotism and corruption. During recent years there has been a sharp increase in dharnas, protests and foot marches against alleged corruption and nepotism.

According to the corruption index of Transparency International, India ranks 85th out of 180 countries. As per same survey, India has the highest rate of bribery in Asia (39 percent) and the highest rate of citizens using personal connections (46 percent). Many people feel that the situation is similar in Northeast and Arunachal also.

On the flip side, experts feel that corruption amongst officials and leaders are caused by common citizens. The process of corruption of common citizens starts during elections. In small constituencies with lesser voters, a candidate getting 4,000-6,000 votes wins the elections. This fact is understood by the common voters, and the voters exploit it to extract remuneration from the candidates. Many voters demand cash or material benefits like smart phones, motorcycles/scooters, tractors, generators, SUVs, etc, in exchange of votes. This demand-supply of material goods is so large during elections that many dealers/shops of motorcycles, scooters, refrigerators, TVs, and tractors run out of stock.

This solicitation of cash or material benefits is continued post elections also. Common citizens demand cash/help for medical needs, family/clan functions, festivals, etc, from the legislators, leaders, officials, businessmen, etc. There are demands/requests for cash/help for sporting events, cultural functions, school/college functions… even for picnics and fresher’s meets. Many common citizens consider it their birthright to demand cash or material benefits from legislators, leaders/officials, businessmen, etc. Legislators, officers are often invited as chief guests/guests of honour with expectations of large cash donations.

Most legislators, officers and businessmen are forced to manage/adjust such humongous demands for cash and material benefits for frequent donations, and to help needy common citizens. It is already assumed that the legislators/officers/businessmen have adequate spare money to satisfy the needs of the common citizens. In many ways, these donations are akin to ‘forced’ corporate social responsibilities.

Since legislators, leaders, officials, businessmen, etc, have to dole out large amounts of cash or material benefits, they resort to creating extra funds through adjustments and managements. This creation of extra funds through adjustments and managements leads to spillage/siphoning/leakage of government funds. Finally, the unending demands of the common citizens for cash/material benefits from the leaders in exchange for votes lead to the leaders adjusting/managing from government funds.

Therefore it is felt that the unending demands of the common citizens for cash/ material benefits from legislators, leaders, officials and businessmen leads to corruption. The common citizens have emerged as a key link to this demand-supply-corruption conundrum. Consequently, can we blame only the legislators, leaders/officials, businessmen for corruption and nepotism?

Once the common citizens stop demanding cash/material benefits from the legislators, leaders/officials, we can start blaming them for corruption and nepotism. Till then, the common citizens are equally guilty of corruption. Do you agree? (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)