The fact is that identities issues govern the behavior of large section of Indian society. If corruption becomes legal then many people may be discriminated against and many may be favoured over. It depends on regions and identities. The fact is that on some, the charges could be disproportionately high while on others they could be low or even zero. Such would further distort the demographic relations and could brood dissent.
Another effect of legalizing corruption and accepting it as normal public ethics is that it may not be able to heal corruption even from Indian standards: the very reason why it could be hypothetically accepted. The corruption problem may become more pervasive and expansive with except for few all participating in it. Hardly anyone would follow the basic rules and India’s moral high may become abysmally low.
So is there no way to end corruption? There may be, but the suggested approach appears more related with egalitarian Western principles based on shared responsibility instead of Hindu-dominated Indian philosophical approach.
A reasonably small fee should be legally collected by governments and private players from individuals and institutions to facilitate all transactions with public and among themselves. But such fee should not be transferred to governments’ accounts to increase their surpluses or reduce their deficits. Instead, all of it should go directly to all possible persons dealing with the transactions.
Similarly, the private players should not take even the minimum of it to increase the returns to shareholders or to decrease the amount of premium paid by shareholders to the companies. Again they should go to persons concerned.
This would definitely spread the corruption but would decrease the price for all and would also benefit all stakeholders. Where there are no public dealings some minimum additional amount could be reserved for employees making all departments and companies almost homogeneous so that there is no competition to be in a particular one.
Public needs to pay for it as well. It would promote efficiency of the employees rendering the public and private services more effective. But there should be an humanitarian angle to it, in the sense that unprivileged people should be freed from paying such surcharges. The governments could become more benevolent by paying to parties on behalf of the unprivileged and underprivileged people.
As far for foreign investors in India are concerned they have two national laws to follow: Indian and theirs, other than international laws. If Indian lawmakers and those of the states make some kind of payment legal for facilitating the investments and other transactions and the embassies accept such laws, then they can legally pay such payment without violating their home laws, if paying bribe is illegal and punishable offense in their own countries.
But in all of the suggested approaches there has to be proportion and the burden on the public should be as low as possible. The foreign investors should not charge excessive and disproportionate amount from their potential consumers for paying the facilitating and adjustment fees.
But then there are other aspects too. If Indian Parliament and State Assemblies become so decent so as to reduce the effect of bribery on common people then the lawmakers also need to be handsomely paid. There is no way all can benefit leaving the Parliamentarians and other lawmakers empty handed. Indians as a group have high aspirations and they are great dreamers as well.
Therefore, Prime Minister should be paid around one million USD in INR denominations for one term, senior Cabinet ministers around half of that and all other Parliamentarians quarter of what the Prime Minister gets. Similarly, the Chief Ministers should get one third of what the Prime Minister gets, his and her Cabinet ministers almost half of what the Chief Ministers get and ordinary Assemblies’ lawmakers one quarter of what Chief Ministers get.
This should be in addition to their regular salaries. Similarly, lawmakers should be encouraged for better Parliamentarian practices and better law-making efforts by rewarding those who help law-making bodies make better laws.
Now this additional money could come from putting surcharge on public taxes, from government earnings, from printing and from borrowing. The RBI should not be on printing and borrowing spree and the governments should put a small surcharge on people to pay additional for their lawmakers’ efforts. This way burden on individuals would be minimal and India could evolve into a more equal society.
The Indian public needs to understand that all the money that is there in treasury does not belong to them. But implementation of laws while dealing with corruption should be very strict. Parliamentarians and other lawmakers should then abandon any malpractices. This is the only way to govern India decently.
So who should pay for ‘eliminating’ corrupt practices or at least containing them? The simple answer to this is public itself, but collectively, so that burden on each individual and family is minimum. Simply preaching morality may just turn out to be lip-service. I know it is rather embarrassing from academic viewpoint, but worse is the problem of rampant and universal corruption in India. If properly implemented, it could only slightly increase the inflation and that could be compensated by higher growth over long term.