What is Corruption?
The word corruption means the destruction, ruining or the spoiling of a society or a nation. A corrupt society stops valuing integrity, virtue or moral principles. It changes for the worse. Such a society begins to decay and sets itself on the road to self destruction. Corruption is an age old phenomena. Selfishness and greed are the two main causes of corruption. Political corruption is the abuse of their powers by state officials for their unlawful private gain.
Over 1500 years ago the mighty Roman Empire disintegrated when its rulers became corrupt and selfish. Nations having a tyrannical powerful ruling elite that refuses to punish the corrupt within it, face the menace of corruption. A corrupt society is characterized by immorality and lack of fear and respect for the law.
Corruption cannot be divorced from economics. Inequality of wealth, low wages and salaries are some of the economic causes of corruption. Employees often strike corrupt deals to supplement their meager incomes. A licence-permit regime or scarcity of basic commodities promotes corruption.
In societies where traditional, religious, ethical teaching and standards of morality are weak, corruption often thrives. These values should be revived among their congregations and subjects and in this effort religious leaders and chiefs have an important role to play. Of late, the media has carried out a large number of stories of prophets who misuse offerings and traditional healers who abuse their patients.
The judiciary, the law enforcement agencies and the education sector have an important role to play to fight corruption by changing the prevailing laws, punishments and the education system.
Corruption has prevailed in all forms of government. Various forms of corruption include extortion, graft, bribery, cronyism, nepotism, embezzlement and patronage. Corruption allows criminal activities such as money laundering, extortion and drug trafficking to thrive.
Corruption in several forms prevails all over the world with bribery alone crossing one trillion US dollars annually. A state of unchecked political corruption is known as kleptocacy, which literally means “rule by thieves”.
At times, bribes are given to avoid punishment. For some people, being corrupt is a way to get what they desire. In societies which ignore corruption, it becomes a way of life. People getting very low wages feel they have to demand bribes in order to lead decent lives. But they do not realize that corruption causes suffering to others.
The consequences of corruption for social and economic development are bad. Corruption hinders economic growth and deters investment. The impact of development assistance is reduced and natural resources are overexploited causing further harm to a country’s environmental assets. Resources are diverted from sectors such as education and health to less important sectors or personal enrichment. The rule of law is eroded and the people no longer respect or trust the state. A few people manage to get rich at the expense of society as a whole, while the poor suffer terribly. In the long run unchecked corruption pushes more and more people into poverty which often destabilizes a society.
Societies can fight corruption by letting the state know that they have had enough of it.The authorities move very quickly when the press or the television highlights instances of corruption. Education spreads political and social awareness and these are some factors that help curb the menace of corruption.Category: History, Government & Society