The Corruption Perception Index by Transparency International has revealed that India has the highest rate of bribery in entire Asia. What are reasons unique to India that make it on of the most corrupt big economies in the world?
A peculiar feature of the Indian psyche is the high standards of morality that expected in public life. It is not a recent phenomenon. The Arthashastra, written by Kautilya in 3rd century BC, says the King must have the best qualities of both the head and the heart; he must shun the six vices, that is, jealousy, lust, anger, greed, attachment and pride. For Indians, the ideal king is Lord Rama and his reign was the golden era of Indian myothology. He was always truthful, selfless and firmly adherent to his duty as King, Warrior, Son, Husband and so on. On hearing that his people doubted his wife’s chasity when she was kidnapped and held captive by demon-king Raavana, he banished her from his home, even though he did not believe the rumors.
Public figures are expected to be demi-gods. This standard of morality cannot be met by most, except by some great souls like Mahatma Gandhiji and Dr.APJ Abdul Kalam. The self interest that is inherent in human beings is not ackowledged and dealt with in a manner that it does not lead to corruption, for example, by increasing the salary of public servants. And the people secretly know this. It has, therefore, become common practice to project an image of upholding the highest moral standards, while engaging in corrupt acts. And the people call it ‘the way of the world’ , ‘the reality of life’ and so on.
Also, Indians being a peace-loving people, have more tolerance for injustice. For example, when the British footprint was expanding in India, the officers of the East India Company preyed on the Raja of Awadh, extorting huge bribes and gifts, imposing their trade and interfering in the internal affairs of the kingdom. But, the Raja showed a grovelling acceptance to the British. Finally, the kingdom was occupied by the British on charges of maladministration. An average Indian seems to have a tendency not to question acts of corruption.
That is not to say Indians will take it lying down. The Bofors scandal led to fall of the Congress government in the centre. Several state governments have also met the same fate. The landscape is changing for the better too, with e-governance, growth of private sectors and other initiatives. Indians, too, are more enlightened than ever, bringing hope of positive change.