Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Corruption: A different perspective


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By Barnes Mawrie

Take up any newspaper or surf any news channel and what you will not fail to see is a coverage on the Jan Lokpal issue. Many will agree with me if I say that Anna Hazare and his Team have become the most powerful people in India today. It is enough to see the clout around them or the paparazzi who vie with each other to get the best shots of their heroes. Now what worries many right thinking people in this country is not the authenticity of such a mass movement, but the sub plots and hidden agenda that are subtly entangled in the movement. Many people have talked of the Hindu agenda behind this movement which to a great extent is true. Then there is the BJP agenda which is adding fuel to the fire. Reasonable people will know that the BJP is all out in support of Team Anna not because they love this country but because they love their party and their party’s ideologies.

The Jan Lokpal movement has become a useful tool in their hands to embarrass the government and bring its image down. The general election is not far away and therefore no one is surprised about their ploy. The way the opposition has boycotted all efforts of the government to get some policies passed in the parliament, is indicative of their “politics of vendetta” or “politics of opportunism”. It is not the welfare of the country that is uppermost in their minds but their own selfish interests. According to me this is the worst form of corruption. It is a “corruption of politics” a “corruption of the mind” which is more dangerous and more lethal than any other form of corruption because it is corruption at the very foundation of our nation. If the foundation is corrupt then how do we expect the edifice of the nation to stand up proud and strong?

This brings me into further reflection on the issue of corruption. I have heard many people saying that the Jan Lokpal Bill is not going to solve the problem of corruption. It is not going to be a magic formula for rooting out corruption. If anyone thinks so, then he/she is thinking out of this world. Even with the bill passed we are going to see corruption still rampaging, may be in a more subtle manner. The Jan Lok Pal movement is a “reactive approach to fighting corruption”. I would like to speak of a “proactive approach to fighting corruption”. Educationists say that “no education takes place in an environment of fear”. I feel that the Jan Lokpal law would only create a fear psychosis which is not a healthy growth. At the same time, everyone knows that corrupt persons (especially those in higher positions) know how to circumvent the laws. It will be the poor man who tries to cheat for a thousand rupees who will be hooked by the law.

The persons in power who are culpable of corruption in crores of rupees will always know the emergency exit in any case. Therefore this reactive approach is not going to solve the problem of corruption. Its positive effects will be short lived, for, in the long run the situation is going to get more complex. I honestly believe in a proactive approach through education (family, religious and school). Let us not forget that corruption is not an external vice that clings to a person like the clothes he wears which may be shed away any time he/she desires. Instead, it is an attitude and a behaviour that springs from a perverse conscience and a malicious mind. For this reason, corruption should be tackled within the heart of the person. What the Jan Lokpal law will do at most is “policing the person’s behaviour” and punish him/her if found guilty. This is not going to bring a lasting solution. Change of attitude is not achieved through castigation but through formation and formation is always through education.

I am not surprised that our schools, colleges and universities are not producing “persons of good character” or “responsible citizens”, knowing the shambles in which our educational system is currently in. As Gandhi himself says “our educational institutions are producing only clever thieves and intelligent robbers”. Therefore what needs urgent reforms is not politics but our educational system. Treat the root cause and healing of the system will take place. How many families today teach their children human, religious or socio-ethical values? Today many children assimilate more negative values and behaviours from televisions and from the internet. How many educational institutions today give importance to inculcation of socio-cultural virtues, moral or religious values? All of them are caught up in the rat race for intellectual excellence. Therefore what we see is the large output of “intellectual persons” but a low output of “good persons”. It is the latter who contribute to the building up of the nation and our country today has a high deficit of such people.

When will our educational institutions cease to commoditize education and start living up to the real principles and objectives of education, namely, to “draw out the best (qualities of head and heart) that is in a person”? Therefore the secret of success to rooting out corruption is not in Anna Hazare and his Team but in our parents and teachers; not in Ramlila Maidan or Jantar Mantar but in our homes and in our classrooms. The present adult generation who rule our country is already incorrigible. Let us not waste our energy and time in reforming them for that is an impossible task (as the saying goes “a leopard can’t change his spots”). Let us instead shift our focus on the younger generation of our country (the children and youth who are in our schools and colleges). Do we want them to be like the present day adults? Then our country will never see a silver lining. Our parents and teachers have a great responsibility to educate the younger generation in basic human, moral and religious virtues. Education for its own value must be taken seriously by those responsible (government or private institutions). If the youth is the future of India then let us not leave any stone unturned in our effort to give them a holistic education.

I strongly believe that when our youth are well formed in character through education, responsible citizenship will be the natural outcome. Then we will not need any Jan Lokpal Movement at all.

(The writer is an author, social thinker and a priest)


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