Between October 29 and November 3, Indians observed Vigilance Awareness Week, with the theme “Eradicate Corruption—Build a New India”. But is there really a need to eradicate corruption when we already have numerous other issues that act as a basis for corruption? Every individual, at least once in their lifetime, would have faced or practiced corruption, which shows we all are corrupt to some extent.
Corruption is present in our schools and colleges when a friend puts in proxy attendance for us. This is present even after our death, when getting a death certificate. So, corruption is everywhere in which one person gets privileged access to resources over others for some specific ‘loss’ in terms of cash or kind. This shows that corruption is really bad but it would be a biased view to just see one side of the coin. Let us see how corruption has played a positive role.
There are numerous uneducated youth and old people in our country; billions belong to the bottom of the socio-economic pyramid, and have actually benefited from corruption. One simple example would be seeing the line for ration card. A poor daily wage worker has to visit two or three times to obtain a ration card. And being a daily wage earner, they have to lose three days’ earnings, which, when analysed in terms of giving a bribe (maybe one day’s earning) will save this person their money. This is where corruption is not bad because it gives access to an unprivileged, poor person, in return for cash. Taking the same example, let us consider the person is educated and rich. They may be well-aware of the official process, but still pay money to get the things done faster. If the same amount of information and knowledge is given to an uneducated, poor person, maybe they would prefer not to pay a bribe. This is the basic difference between good and bad corruption.
Thus, it would be better if we do not focus just on the negatives of corruption and start working on reducing this gap in information about processes that exists between different classes of people. There is a need to have equity in access to resources, processes, and knowledge to avoid corruption which cannot be achieved by following a week dedicated to ‘eradicating corruption’. Eradicating corruption will not help people. We all need to eradicate the existing inequity.