Genetics of Corruption

Updated: Dec 18, 2010, 10:56 AM IST

Supriya Jha

Conversations tapped… leaked! Ministers tainted…. sacked!

Girls nabbed…raped!

WikiLeaks … brains stormed globally!

Julian Assange, the master whistleblower, has defied the famous proverb “Those living in glasshouses, shouldn’t throw stones at others”. Though he is himself smeared with the accusations of rape and molestations, he didn’t lose heart and came down heavily upon the entire world by revealing the weak links in world politics.

But even we shouldn’t dare to defy the proverb and take a peep within. I mean, why not zero in on India first!

So, here is what is making news in India currently.

  • Parliament deadlock – no light at the end of the tunnel… & who dug it? Now don’t blame it on just those with the ‘hammer and sickle’. CPI (M) is just one of the component voices amid the cacophony of the JPC demand even though they are loudly claiming to have cast the first stone in a paper of theirs. The (mis)deed was brought to light due to the ‘rising sun’s’ A Raja who lorded over the telecom lines, courtesy his party’s support (pressure?). Just when the call of 2G scam began dropping, we started sniggering at the media as one woman’s conversations turned the cameras half circle.
  • CVC to quit? PJ Thomas – from God’s own country – Kerala, the beautiful land, the land of coconuts. The other day I could imagine a coconut falling on the head of our revered Thomas and him discovering the nobility of being charged with just ‘criminal conspiracy’ and then going to town shouting, “I am still the CVC”. This, even after his Palmolein oil got all spilled out in public and he now struggles to find balance standing on it before the Supreme Court.
  • Besides the two, there are many other storms that have made our boats rock and made us feel sick. LIC Housing scam, Adarsh Housing Society scam, Sukna land scam, Mining scam in Karnataka, etc... And who knows how many more clandestine scams are in the making right now, and how many of their skeletons would be unraveled after years or may be never!

    So, what is the basic component of all these scams – the basic ingredient that goes into the making of this irresistible recipe called scum…I mean scam.

    Of course the answer is – money: that sweet ring of the cash register and that intoxicating smell of easy currency.

    Gotta earn it. Anyhow! By hook or by crook. By luck or by muck – that’s the mantra that seems to have (dis)enchanted the largest democracy on Earth.

    So, is the Moolah the be-all-and-end-all for human existence, as it increasingly seems to us? The sheer exuberance of fraud and wrongdoings has now made me believe that corruption is an integral part of us, embedded in our genetics, either from times immemorial or has evolved steadily, keeping in view Darwin’s survival of the fittest(fattest now) theory and the corresponding adjustments in genetic makeup.

    As we know, we are what we are because of the hereditary particles called genes. And we know it, thanks to Mendel, the ‘Father of Genetics’ who was, unfortunately bestowed with this fatherhood posthumously, 16 years after he died in 1884 as a mere clergy, without getting any credit for the sharp and meticulous calculations that he performed during crossing experiments with Pisum sativum – the pea plant.

    It was only 16 long years after his death that three scientists brought out in the open his achievements and credited him. What was the reason behind Mendel’s discovery not getting highlighted while he was still singing Hallelujah here and not in the fluff of clouds above? His findings were published in an obscure journal as he didn’t have the requisite cash and clout. The scientific world was then bedazzled by Darwin; why not, he was rich and famous, the grandson of the famous Scientist Erasmus Darwin. Money mattered even in revealing the best escape routes of all – we always can blame our ancestors for stuff we do. It’s the lack of the rich genes that prevented Mendel’s rise.
    Though it was not for nothing that Darwin was being paid heed to. His grand sea voyage in the magnificent HMS Beagle took the scientific world by storm as did the popular phrase – “survival of the fittest”. But mind you, here again Darwin was lucky enough to be known as the one to have coined this phrase. Actually the term was first coined by Herbert Spencer!

    So, let us get back to some basic genetics. Actually, for every character we possess, we have a gene, which is further represented by two alleles or more. Like, for the gene of height, there are generally two alleles, one for shortness, and other for tallness. Whichever allele is able to dominate, that gets expressed. To make it clearer - if the Tall allele is dominant, a person expresses tall character, but if his Tallness allele fails to dominate, a short stature is what gets expressed.

    Similarly, in my opinion, there has been an evolution of a gene called ‘corruption’.
    It too has got two alleles; one of ‘honesty’ and the other allele is of ‘dishonesty’. So, in a case where the Honesty part is not active enough to dominate its counterpart, what gets expressed is ‘Dishonesty’.

    And it is this ‘Genetics of Corruption’, according to me, that may very well explain the incredible exuberance of scams and frauds and wrongdoings that surround us these days. That has to be the explanation of the sudden eruption, and a scientific one it is!

    Just like, it is not the action of bad people that harms more, but the inaction on the part of good ones, that proves to be fatal for society. In more or less same manner, I believe, it’s the lack of enthusiasm to do something good for others that finally pushes us on the wrong side and compels us to commit corruption.

    So, it may be the case with majority of our bureaucrats and politicians and in fact many of us, who are somehow not completely honest. The gaze must be turned inwards first. And as Michael Jackson once sang, “Am starting with the man in mirror”, we must be true to ourselves and ask if we are truthful to the best of our capacity?

    We need to activate that inert allele of Honesty, so that Dishonesty is not expressed with such alarming ubiquitousness. Let us turn into hard-core philanthropists, so that we can vicariously feel the thrill when someone else gets happier because of us and not the thrill where we feel happy at the other’s expense.

    The cancer of corruption, however malignant, can always be nipped in the bud, after all this is the era of Genetic engineering, and we can tamper with almost everything and change everything.

    So, why not change for the good and better, for the best!