Is corruption in our DNA?

All the talk of growth and rising India story has got overshadowed by corruption.

Pankaj Sharma/ Zee Research Group/ Delhi

“If Central government releases one rupee for poor, only 10 paisa reaches them.” These famous words by former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi made during the Congress Plenary Session in Bombay are as pertinent today as they were then. Alas, all the talk of growth and the rising India story has got overshadowed by ever mounting charges of corruption involving the high and mighty. But as we look back, is not it time to ask ourselves whether corruption is in our DNA?

Stigma of corruption is not new in our country as the history of corruption post independence started with the jeep scam in 1948. In the jeep scandal VK Krishna Menon, who was high commissioner in Britain, had allegedly made a deal with foreign company for army jeeps by crossing the regulations. He had allegedly made the deal of Rs. 80, 00,000 and this was found out in 1955 when he was in the cabinet of Jawaharlal Nehru.

Since then, there have been numerous corruption cases unearthed within the country. However, the recent few years have seen the digging out of major corruption cases. Many people have named these years as the ‘season of scams’. In this ‘season of scams’, many senior politicians and bureaucrats have been named in corruption cases.

As per the Transparency International ranking of nations based on the level of corruption India slipped to 87th spot in 2010 from 84th in 2009.

World Bank also argued in its latest report – “India aid programmes are beset by corruption, bad administration and under-payments.”

As per ‘Doing Business India’ report, India ranks 134 out of 183 countries on World Bank’s index of ease of doing business.

As per ‘India Forensic Study’, in last decade corruption cost India Rs.1555 thousand crore. KPMG survey on corruption pointed out outrage of ‘aam aadmi’. KPMG survey claimed “90% of respondents felt that corruption negatively impacts the performance of stock markets by increasing volatility and prevents institutional investors from making long term investments.”

After corruption, the second most talked thing today is black money parked by Indian nationals in foreign tax heavens. With no consensus on amount of money parked in tax havens everyone has a different opinion on black money. The Swiss Bank report which came in 2006 claimed that black money deposit in Swiss Bank is US$ 1.4 trillion which is largest from any nation in the world.

While Professor R Vaidyanathan claimed this figures stood over Rs 7,280,000 crores (USD $1.4 trillion), Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) claims it to be around Rs 25, 00,000 crore.

Quotes on Corruption

“Corruption was a global phenomenon. So it is not possible to eradicate corruption” – Third Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi (1980-1984).

“I found it harder to clean up corruption than it is when you are on the other side, talking about it rather than having to do it” - Sixth Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi (1984-1989).

“If Central government release one rupee for poor, only 10 paise reaches them.” – Sixth Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi (1984-1989).

“Corruption was like diabetes. It can be controlled but cannot be eradicated” –11th Prime Minister of India, HD Deve Gowda (1996-1997).

"There is no scarcity of resources in our country, but these are not used properly from the panchayat level to Parliament as the main obstacle is corruption,"- Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee (1998 -2004).

"It is time to realise that crime and corruption do not pay. These fragment the society and the economy becomes directionless," –11th President of India, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam.

“It is wrong for anyone to assume there is a magic wand which will lead to an instant solution of these (corruption) difficult societal problems. We need systemic reforms,” - Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh (Since 2004).

“Corruption was a sickness in our system that needs to be fought” – UPA Chairperson, Sonia Gandhi.

"We have to look into this issue (corruption) in a collective way. Stringent action against corruption is needed. Punishment should be within six months, instead of 20 years," Congress General Secretary, Rahul Gandhi.

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