Corruption in civil services: The stained steel frame

Corruption in civil services: The stained steel frame: The sensational arrest, by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on January 18, of the Regional Provident Fund (PF) Commissioner, Chennai, and some of his staff, as also a few private individuals


Revisit Arthashastra

Going by dictionary
meaning, the word corruption is associated with words like bribe, cheating,
evil, badness, decayed, stinking, decayed, false, defilement, wickedness,
violation, defective, spoilt, faulty, wrong, malignant, offensive, immoral,
unchaste, vile and fallen (the list can go on). Suffice to say, anyone or any
institution/organization having something attributable to any formations out of
any of these words can be alleged to be corrupt.
Luckily corruption
remains undefined and it is generally accepted that what is ‘legal’ is not
corrupt. Then, like morality, the perception of corruption varies from
individual to individual, society to society and country to country. That
explains the continuous effort to ‘legalise’ lucrative corrupt practices and
the word politics getting a bad connotation as politicians become legislators
and selectively legalise corrupt practices! What is construed as legal in one
context need not be so in another context.
There are several
‘current’ corruption cases which compete between and among them as to which one
has more quality ingredients of immense possibilities for squandering public
funds using position, influence, relationships and various other supports
necessary for multiplying personal net-worth without any value addition. While
on the subject of corruption, one is reminded of a quote from Kautilya:
“Just as fish moving
inside water cannot be known when drinking water, even so officers appointed
for carrying out works cannot be known when appropriating money.
It is possible to know
even the path of birds flying in the sky, but not the ways of officers moving
with their intentions concealed.”
(Kautilya Arthasastra, 2.9.33, 34)
There is a need to
revisit Arthasastra, if we have to
reach at the roots of corruption and bring it at least to some acceptable
levels, so that governance in some form will survive.

G Warrier
, Mumbai


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