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Corruption: An international phenomena?
While defending Jagjivan Ram in Parliament for not filing income tax returns for years, Indira Gandhi soft-pedalled the issue by saying, 'There was some forgetfulness'.
It is said she institutionalised corruption in India, and gave it respectability by proclaiming in the Parliament, 'that corruption is an international phenomenon'! The flood gates opened, and today we find the more corrupt the person, brighter the sheen one acquires in public domain.

On one hand, CMs give out clean chits straightway. And if further prodded by media, 'the law will take its own course' is their nauseating mantra! Sure, the law takes its course till the cows come home, as we have seen in the two Salman Khan's cases. How much does it add up to the huge numbers of pending cases in the courts?

Why doesn't the establishment tell us plainly that there is no law for the rich and the powerful? This will spare us a lot of the 'theatre of the absurd'. And the tax payer's money! The dictum, 'Innocent till proven guilty' is being dragged too often and for too long. Much to the overall detriment of the society and the country! I wonder what the judicial system gets by thus victimising the victim further. How does the law take its course in other cultures?

In 1982, as we arrived in Singapore, the headlines in 'Strait Times' blared that the Director General of Prisons was himself in jail. What was his crime? He had allowed a bottle of Scotch to an imprisoned business man.

In 1983 in Japan, Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka was found guilty of having accepted $2.1 million in bribes from Lockheed Corp. in an aircraft deal. He had already resigned. He appeared on TV and apologised to the nation, and retired to a Zen monastery.

I had to often go to Italy on work. Every time I was there, some mayor, judge, businessman or politician were routinely in jail. Even in a corrupt country like Italy, the law does take its course. But swiftly! Silvio Berlusconi, the four-time prime minister and a powerful media mogul, was also not spared.

He was ejected from the Senate for tax fraud. In consideration of his age, his four-year prison term was commuted to doing social service in a commune. He is still hounded in courts on several counts.

Currently in South Korea, President Park has been impeached by the highest court for corruption. Countrywide protests are the order of the day and her days in office are numbered. Earlier, President Kim in the 80s also met with a similar fate.

After their latest survey for 2016, Jose Ugaz, Chairperson of Transparency International points out: 'In too many countries, people are deprived of their most basic needs and go to bed hungry every night because of corruption, while the powerful and corrupt enjoy lavish lifestyles with impunity.

Higher-ranked countries tend to have higher degrees of press freedom, access to information about public expenditure, stronger standards of integrity for public officials, and independent judicial systems. But high-scoring countries can't afford to be complacent, either.

While the most obvious forms of corruption may not scar citizens' daily lives in all these places, the higher-ranked countries are not immune to closed-door deals, conflicts of interest, illicit finance, and patchy law enforcement that can distort public policy and exacerbate corruption at home and abroad'.

I often delve into literature on the Maurya period (4th century BC) in our history. Culling from 'Arthashastra', Tarun Kumar writes: 'During Mauryan times, superintendents were the highest officials, a position they received for possessing the desired 'individual capacity' and adequate 'ministerial qualifications'.

Given the general emphasis of Kautilya on observing ethics and morality in relation to the functioning of a state, it seems the selection process would have involved not just a scrutiny of the educational attainments, but also the right kind of aptitude for the job including traits of honesty and impartiality. This shows that despite the greatest care taken in recruiting officials, corrupt persons did make their way into the system'.

Forty types of corruptions were identified by Kautilya, and commensurate punishments were described. Throughout the kingdom 'guptchars' were roaming incognito, and testing the ethical values of judges and all officials, by tempting them (sting operations!).

When our Founding Fathers chose Ashoka's Lion Pillar as our National emblem and his Chakra embodied in our National flag, they must have dreamt of restoring India's glory to Mauryan heights!

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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