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June 15, 2006

When Indira Gandhi was asked about the prevailing corruption, she brushed it aside saying it was an international phenomenon. One feels a justification if his defect is found in many others too. In the post-war period, the prevalence of corruption began to spread in the developing countries. When people speak of corruption nowadays they mean the growing corruption in the Asian or developing countries. Why this is happening now is a primary question. There are several other questions related. They are,

  1. Are we to live with this phenomenon?
  2. Is it because India is basically corrupt?
  3. Can we get rid of it some time? If so, when, how?
  4. Is there no corruption in other developed nations?
  5. Is it a phase all development has to undergo?
  6. If corruption is an inevitable phase, does it mean we justify it?
  7. Is there not something that can be done to remove a good part of it?
  8. What are the various forms of corruption?
  9. Can a society be absolutely free of corruption of any description?
  10. How do we define corruption?


About seventy years ago, Rajaji said that when freedom was attained, we would exchange a good government for a bad government. The Indians do not have the spotless character the Englishman possessed. Therefore Rajaji said that. It has become true. The Englishman was brought up to be a gentleman of noble character whereas in the same period Indians fought for economic survival. One who is unable to survive socially cannot think of nobility or character. In spite of 800 years of slavery what little character we find in India is not a little. It speaks high of the erstwhile culture and the background of the Spirit. As Science does not permit compromises, Spirit does not square accounts with falsehood in any measure. That, of course, is the basis of the Indian culture. What we witness now is of the surface. Hence it is a passing phenomenon. How soon will it pass away is a question. There was a time when India was known to be incorruptible. Those were the heydays of our culture. Not all communities, especially those without a background of spirit or mind can boast of such a past. But such past is of no avail, if we are not going to draw upon it.  

Corruption has its basis in life, mind, spirit and beyond. Poverty is the basis in life that permits man to seek corrupt solutions. Where poverty was permanent, corruption can develop into a way of life. It is at this stage corruption becomes a culture, acquiring complex social forms with the approval of the society. In the mind, prolonged ignorance generates possible footholds of corruption in the society as ignorance breeds superstition which is a fertile soil for political corruption. There are phases where religion degenerates into witchcraft and Spirit becomes the vital spirit, the dead man's vital remains. Such a social atmosphere can breed corruption of every possible variety. It becomes a saga of corruption.

If we want to get rid of corruption, it can be got rid of. This fact is seen in the recent performance of the Election Commission. Its assertion overrules the corrupt politician and fair elections are to a great extent possible. That is because the Election Commission is empowered and it exercises its power. Suppose the Election Commission is not a statutory body, this is not possible. The power is there, the law is available, and there is a system. The right person exercising his personality of integrity sends a message to the nation: All is not lost; everything can be saved, if the right move is made. Beyond, far behind the social personality that is black and corrupt, lies the original brilliance of the Spiritual splendour. Should we draw upon it, India can become a shining fortress of silvery smoothness - a corruption-free public life. The question is how to do it and who is to do it? Every nation has gone through a phase of corruption. Now they have outlived it. They have done so by education, prosperity and social values. Corruption is availed of by those who have no self-respect, who are not ashamed of ill-gotten wealth. Education gives self-respect. Even here corrupt politicians send their children abroad. They return educated and having witnessed a self-respecting society. Such NRIs do not yield to corruption in the ordinary sense. Any rule has an exception. When the volume of corruption rises because of political power, the newly acquired self-respect abroad gives way. As a rule, poverty goes with corruption and prosperity goes with integrity.

All the nations now known to be great have passed through a phase of corruption as we do here in India. Some were worse than in India and had judges in the pay of notorious mafia leaders. These men bought up whole legislatures and made them make laws as they wished. But no country which is free of this malady now escaped corruption. Nowhere was it less severe. This is a historical fact which speaks the inevitability of it. That gives us some consolation. Had this been 1600 AD, we may not feel so sore as now. Now that the world has outlived the ugly forms of corruption, its presence hurts us. A silk merchant came to the Chola king with fine material. It was too costly for the king. He would not buy it. The merchant knew the Minister Sadayappa Vallal was rich. He went to him and sold them. The kind was angry as he took it as an insult. He sent his men and looted the minister's house. This is gross misdemeanour not easily possible in today's civilised conditions. But, we do hear in totalitarian countries about such events. Periods change; people remain the same to an extent. By corruption what is generally meant is bribe in the form of money. This incident is to corrupt the code of conduct by the royalty.

Corruption arises only when there is a standard. At the dawn of civilisation the strong ruled, took everything for themselves, made the weak work for them, never thought of giving any right to the weak. It was not thought wrong or corrupt. It was perceived as strength and admired. Gladiators thrown to the hungry lions to be torn to pieces evoked no compassion to the victim; it made the onlookers adore the man who had that power. Everyone wished for that power. It was a period when physical strength ruled. Standards were set in later days when mind was born and created a sense of justice. Helen was a beautiful Queen. Beauty belongs to strength. The strong man took her. The stronger man endeavoured to restore her. They were not days when morality was the ideal. Neither of the contestants considered whom Helen loved. Both set store by their strength. Strength is right. So they declared Might is Right. The concept of corruption arises only when moral standards were set and people feel short of it. Corruption is a concept of comparing one standard with another. Before the idea of corruption rose, one thought of work. He who butchers his lamb for good never thinks in terms of the sensation of the lamb. It was given to the Buddhist, not the meat eater. Even today it is true. A strange fact of human nature is many, a great many who relish eating meat are compassionate to the suffering of animals. It only means the growth of consciousness in the vital and the mental are of different grades. The king who had a large number of women in his harem was proud of his possession and was not shy of his moral standards. Those were days when kings were evaluated by the strength of their harem. Man, in his inner longings, is still like that. The sense of shame of seeking women other than his wife is not a real sensation till today in the masculine nerves. It is a psychological ideal of moral sensibilities to which humanity as a collective never aspired. The men prescribed it to women all over the world. Now women are seeking emancipation from such a thralldom.

Corruption can be best understood from the fashioning of social organisations. The word organisation is often understood in its external sense as we perceive a company, family, religion, school, etc. Language does not distinguish the outer expression from the inner reality, as house is distinguished from home, or as wedding is seen as a function while marriage is a social institution. A company is often identified with its headquarters, the buildings that house it. It is of course seen as a social institution. Organisation is a system by which a company permanently arranges its works to be completed. Here different companies differ. While the family and a company are organisations, each has its works done differently. In the family, it is more accomplished by values and cultural attitudes that express these values while in a company it is more the rules that rule. My question is, how do social organisations arise? How was trade born? When social possibilities saturate their plane of existence, society throws up newer, higher possibilities for a better result. Those external circumstances create some working relationships between the various individuals. These conveniences resorted to by the entire society come to stay as a way of life. That is how organisations are born. Trade, transport, banking and a host of others were so created. What is created thus initially are physical structures by physical functionings. Long after those structures came to stay, man perceived that they functioned far better, yielded enormously greater results, if man acquired certain desirable attitudes. They are moral attitudes of truth, integrity, reliability, honour, etc. They become social values. These values are originally created in a small section of the society. Later when society progresses vastly, the entire population sails in to avail of transport, trade or education. The increasing quantity decreases quality. The values the social elite acquired are given up in favour of material results. There is a fall in standards. Such a fall in standards in public morals, especially in doing one's duty for the sake of an impermissible material benefit is known as corruption. It is theoretically not inevitable, though practically it is otherwise. Viewed from this point of perception, corruption is a symptom of a vaster population seeking developmental progress. A tractor driver came to the office of the R.T.O. and had all his work accomplished by the broker. Finally there was a form to be signed by the owner of the tractor. The driver wanted to take the form to his owner at the village and get it signed. It means one full day is lost and the next day being a holiday two full days would be lost. The broker was impatient for his fees and pointed out to the driver the loss of two days' income for the tractor. The driver hesitated to commit the forgery the broker had in mind. The broker lost his patience and shouted, "Sign the form yourself". The driver signed his master's name and departed with the tractor. Exigencies dictate shortcuts to people. Here the question is moral, doing the wrong thing. Man learned to sell his goods to another for money. That was the beginning of trade. When some travelers came to a village, it was seen that they were able to sell more than usual and for a better price. It developed into a monthly fair. When it came to stay, we called it trade. Trade is an organisation when people sell and buy goods having met at a common place periodically.


Thus the organisation of trade was born. Where to meet, when to meet, whom to sell, how to sell, what to give in exchange, and much more so, what NOT to do, what goods should not come, in what conditions good should not be presented, whom not to sell to, what coins are not acceptable are the work values that spring up over time. Each profession develops its own organisation. Each organisation creates its work values, functional values and finally social and moral values. A fair offers a fair opportunity to cheat. Cheating can be in the quality of goods, its measurement, the validity of coins tendered. During the course of time credit develops and hence the value of man's given word. Honour is of value, if you are to flourish in trade. The extreme truthfulness of the English public is said to be born out of the fact that they are traders. To bind another to a term, elaborate documents are to be executed. In earlier days not all people could read or write. The creation of documents was a time-consuming, long-drawn, inconvenient, cumbersome process. So, it was easy to trade with one whose words are honoured. Thus integrity in public life was born. Not all people can keep their word. So honour comes to be valued. Soon, it is discovered that there is something to be gained by not honouring one's word. Thus lying is a source of income. Standards are set and honoured during periods when life looks up. In formative periods, no standards are maintained. There is a gain in honesty; there is a gain in being dishonest. Hitler and his men resorted to the advantages of lying copiously as a policy and directly drove to their destruction.

When freshets come in the river, the water is muddy. The child relieves himself at all times regardless of time or situation. Any food taken in is mostly digested and the rest is rejected as excretion. Man began his life physically as a brute and grew to be a civilised person. In the initial stages things are substandard by the standards of later times, not the necessities of those times. Man acquires power and capacity first and only later develops knowledge. Power is by nature crude. If power is asked not to be crude, power becomes powerless. In the scheme of things, it is the nature or even prerogative of power to be crude in producing results. Power, naked power, produces no results if asked to be sophisticated. It is an observed fact in the developing nations that the growth rate is higher in those countries where development is achieved through corruption. A direct proportion to corruption and development is the most generally observed fact, almost claiming it to be a rule. Corruption cannot be justified on any score but one sees this inevitable historical fact that the more prosperous an unorganised society becomes the more prevalent is what is NOW understood as corruption. For an industrious capable person, money comes in tons but values arise only in the third or fourth generation. Values are acquired by the subsequent generation of those who earned and accumulated money by all means, right or wrong. It is worthy of note that the fourth or even the 14th generation of poor parents do not acquire any value. For value to be acquired in one generation money must have been earned in the previous generations. And money is not accumulated through processes that are value ridden.


Corruption is in the form of bribes to political bosses to secure undue favours. So, what we know as corruption is predominantly achieved through illicit money. Still, I should say this is confined to the surface layers of the society. I say so because there are still a rare few politicians and officers who are totally free of corruption. If the body politic is deeply infested with this venom, those few shining individuals cannot be there, cannot survive. The malady spreads from above and therefore oases of integrity survive. Should it rise from the depth no such exception can ever be seen. The few graduates in an illiterate village reveling in superstition cannot express a fundamental change in their social attitude. The roots of social existence are unaffected, her spiritual foundations are untouched by this venom and therefore, corruption will yield to a determined effort from any quarters powerful. The demands of modern life, high cost of education, modern lifestyle, and expectations of the youth are the real springs of corrupt way of life. One who refuses to be corrupt must forego good education for his children and agree to live a style of life of 1940. This is not a practical reality of 2006 AD.

Government has power enough to abolish corruption if the leader is incorruptible. The poor system has still rules enough that can prevent bribes. There is enough individual and social conscience left that will endorse anti-corruption steps. Assuming it is done successfully, one thing is certain. All development will come to a dead stop. All the black money has gone into founding colleges, schools, enterprises, etc. All such activities will dry up. The government is after all serving the masses. It is not possible to deliver them goods against their will. The subconscious existence of the society is not moral. It is realistic and practical. Success is welcome. How it is arrived at is not a matter of concern to the public at large. This is a society which has not yet seen prosperity in overwhelming measure to be choosy. In a way, it is a beggarly society, with $ 1300 as per capita GDP. Beggars cannot be choosers. Success is rare here. Therefore anyone's success, irrespective of how he achieved it is welcome. It becomes suspect only when, after the initial success, he persists in his earlier anti-social methods. Society pardons wrongdoing in view of personal success; but it will not countenance wrongdoing as a way of life forever. Those who insist on such a course, we see meet with social disfavour.




Man's progress is double-fold: one is from below from practical circumstances and their benefits, the other is from above from the higher possibilities he has seen. Culture is the resultant way of life he comes to cherish. From below he perceives his efficiency rises phenomenally by the values of the higher planes. From above he sees he becomes a better man by higher values. But both are inevitable. Once culture establishes itself, of course, there is a temporary value of great volume by abandoning it. It is a short-term temptation. But when the process exhausts itself, not only his social value is entirely lost but his physical existence is extinct. Only those without foresight will resort to it. Rising from below, one can refuse to take into account the practical utility of higher values. He may delight in the enormous material benefit of the present. But one more aspect will present itself. As he is to function with others who have values, he has to resort to deceit. With others like him who have no values, he has to have the strength of no values which will be brutal initially and tyrannical later. The successful exercise of such a strength ─ the strength of inert matter ─ demands a consummate ruse commonly not seen. Should one be rewarded with continued success there, which is rare, he will be surrounded by fewer and fewer persons, all of his type. One of them will exceedingly excel him for a moment to reward him with ultimate destruction. Usually it is from the higher side an idealist or an avatar who comes to destroy him. In either case, for the collective, it is a turning point. The point is the downward path cannot be endless in social life, though theoretically in life and further, in existence it can be endless. Society makes progress in its elite, as in aristocracy in Europe or the Rishis in India. In China the intellectual elite represented that part. It behooves them to share their gains with others as they live on the work of those below. Practically the temptation is to possess the higher gains for themselves and their posterity. That brings in the cleavage. The gains of the elite are social gains even as the produce of the proletariat is social produce. As the high refuses the cultural gains to the low, if the low refuses to feed them with their toil, the elite will no longer be elite. They will crumble. The law of growth is growth in parts. Nowhere in history has the monarch, the aristocrat, the intelligentsia, the priest come forward to share their wealth with the rest in exchange for the results of their toil. It began only in the 20th century in a massive scale.

The process is widening the gap created by disparities and the population becomes acutely aware of the increasing dishonesty of the elite. A time comes when the population wrests that power by violence. It is the Revolution symbolised by the French Revolution and the Soviet Revolution. These are the results of direct greed and machinations where the elite is forced to resort to the greater resourcefulness of error, mistake, wrong, falsehood. Thus evil gets organised. Sri Aurobindo perceived that process as the simple contrary changing into complex perversity. Revolutions destroy evils. With the development of Mind and the advent of universal education the necessity of revolutions recedes and it is gradually replaced by social evolution where violent cataclysms are replaced by violent vociferous public debate that crystallise as legislation, law, rule, custom, etc. This is a conscious process of the partially evolved man.

There is another unconscious process of social systems. Every social system enables man to organise his tyranny over the lower levels. The caste system and class rigidity are such. The most characteristic example of this type comes from Money. Money is a great, organized power that pushes the social progress by leaps and bounds. Its other side is it helps man to tyrannise over the other in the extreme, as Shylock did. Money, in utter ridicule of man, offers itself to be played with. It offers him a field of self-destruction. Gambling is the result. Cards, races, betting are the usual field where Man, by his uncontrollable instinct for gambling, destroys himself. The stars of gambling are the children of accumulated wealth. There is a wider field of resourcefulness in the negative arena of social existence. It is the stock exchange. Here men can gamble collectively to destroy the very system of money and the society which created it. So the great Depression of 1929 came. It was the most glorious economic moment for USA with the boom at its peak. Stock exchange is no real institution beyond a point. Up to that point it is the institution that brings the public savings as private capital. Beyond a certain point, as elsewhere, it changes its character. Society came to that brink half a dozen times since 1825. In 1907, it was given to one man's integrity and strength to save the world from such a crisis. In 1929 the bounds were broken. Man used with a vengeance the very system that made him leap several times to destroy himself and the system. It raged essentially between 1929 and 1932. Money was destroyed all over the world. It was devalued. America had the productive strength of the society so her suffering was confined to social life. It was in Germany that humanity was making an effort at the physical level. The Allies were out to destroy that country at its very roots, its physical existence. The impact of the Depression on Germany was received by her monetary system. It resulted in runaway inflation, the very worst the world economy had seen. It was the peak of the dire result in the negative side to recover from which one needed to make a reviving effort at the deeper level ─ the physical. Germany chose to destroy mankind physically and decided in her subconscious to sacrifice her physicality initiating the Second World War. She developed her material physical strength militarily to destroy herself physically. The Second World War was caused by the Great Depression of 1929-1932. As soon as the power of the Depression slackened, Hitler came to power in 1933. He was diabolical. The diabolical character of Hitler originated in the devilish instinct of self-destruction initiated in 1929. All negative uses of a system have this character. He went further to plan the holocaust feeling it was by that act he was destroying the money power symbolically. There was an immediate excuse for him. When bands of unemployed youth roamed the streets, they found most of the employers were moneyed people of a particular community. Hitler played upon it.

One of the laws of social evolution is the worst leads to the best. Since the end of the war in fifty years the world has made as much progress as in the previous 500 years. Money which met with its gross misuse as a system in 1929 and its subsequent loss of value came into its own and attained social maturity. It reached in the eighties the point of self-multiplication. Now it is offering itself gratis unsolicited, as society vaguely perceives that by such an act of outgoing selfless self-giving, it has to gain socially other powers society has not experienced so far. Banks, in future, will become centers of social decision-making partly replacing, but powerfully, the political leadership. As the leadership from the army was shifted to politics, the social leadership will essentially shift to Money in the coming decades. To gain it fully, money must give itself away.

Nothing in this wide world will ultimately lead to disaster, not even the great Depression. Corruption now will certainly give the society the lasting significance of great values. All the developed countries now cherish such an experience. It does not necessarily mean we must pass through a phase of corruption, if there are avenues open to avoid it. It must be there in all nations. India has still vast reservoirs of the past life, culture, and spirit that can blight corruption in a few years if the right human instrument is available.

In an atmosphere of civilised living, having had an incorruptible government, though foreign, the present status is degrading. The quicker we get out of it the better, without the course of events overcoming them due to an efflux of time. In absolute terms there is nothing corrupt about what we consider now as corruption. It is one of the processes of accomplishment before a society becomes civilised and acquires values. Prevention of corruption in India or Indonesia, I said, will stop the process of development or at least slow down the process. This being the only scope they have, depriving them of the one means is to stop them functioning.

Finland is the least corrupt of all nations. USA comes 8th on the list of nations that are corrupt. India is 64 on the list. It is a matter of pride that one's nation is free of corruption. Theoretically, what we know as corruption will be there in all human civilisations in one form or another. There is no escaping it because corruption is a compromise of values. The world has not matured enough to order its daily life according to values in the collective. China is a culture where the mental development has reached its acme five centuries before the birth of Christ. This is an enviable position. In the matter of creation of an intelligentsia and paper currency, China was a forerunner. In the masses the life was poor. Poverty was rife. Because of this very wide gap, the laudable achievement of civilisation as a high intellectual attainment only created cruelty, tyranny and torture. The West reached high levels of economic prosperity in the last few centuries because of scientific technology and universal education. Prosperity blunts the urge for cruelty. Also the mental development was not so high as in China and its energies were absorbed in scientific creativity.

The perfectly true Englishman when he moves into fields of diplomacy lives by lies, as there it is indispensable. Truth has not yet invaded diplomacy. Even secret treaties between the governments were the rule. The English gentleman who is a paragon of virtue in personal life, coming into the field of business becomes an expert in bargaining and is shameless in unethical practices. It looks as if the European businessmen fully compensate in business what they have commendably gained in personal lives. They have no compunction in not honouring their words as USA has done in the Nuclear Disarmament Treaties. They have refused to open the treaty for review as agreed earlier. Life goes forward in one area, and lags behind in another are a rule of living. Taken to heights of yogic philosophy, Quantity and Quality are illusions and all nations as well as all individuals are equally Brahman. Viewed socially there is a difference, high and low. The lapse will be not only in more sophisticated avenues, but can be seen horizontally. The Indian, who made cleanliness next only to Godliness made his life poor, lost his self-respect. In fact the Rishis of highest spiritual attainments are dirty and filthy all over with hair knotted and body unwashed. To maintain the highest standards of honour of a gentleman, the European spent all his energies. For one century at least he never washed or brushed his teeth. Energy went to maintain an inner purity.

Life opened up in USA in the 16th to 19th centuries as it did in Mesopotamia in prehistoric times. Abundance advanced on Man in avalanches. He was unable to absorb all of it. Every civilisation enjoyed it at points of transition. Life's gifts overwhelmed him faster than he could develop any organisation to avail of it properly. Organisation comes first, values next. India is in such a phase. What is now understood as corruption is an overwhelming flood of good things of life before any organisation can be developed to receive them. Values are nowhere in the picture. Abundance of quickly advancing prosperity has no patience with values that are constricting. Hence the appearance of corruption. It is corruption for those who have been raised in a life of values. Should they stoop to it, they would be mercilessly broken as many sincere men found to their cost by such a temptation. Corruption is a comprehensive process of high accomplishment for competent men not used to the compunction of conscience or cultural values. Others cannot resort to it with impurity. It is deadly detrimental to them. Shankara called Ignorance Illusion and on that strength retrieved all India from Buddhism. In the modern context one cannot advocate Maya safely. Corruption is ill-defined poor judgment of social waves of life's advancement, not a chronic disease to be deprecated.

Not only in public life, invariably in all fields what grows in abundance first is energy, not organisation. Energy before entering into an organisation has to be directed to become Force. No furniture can ever be made without cutting the lumber to shape. Instead of considering the wood shavings and parings as waste, it is best to know it is an inevitable process. Corruption has an origin in warfare. Looting and arson had not disappeared even in the Second World War. It was their life. In early centuries armies lived not on supplies but on looting. The Admirals and Navy personnel were by rule given a share of conquered ships. Generals enriched themselves legally thus. Now it has shifted to politics and administration and is labeled corruption. No regime was ever free of it, nor did they feel guilty of it, rather they were proud of it, as Robert Clive. One can be free from corruption as Warren Hastings, but a corrupt society will not tolerate an incorruptible officer. He was impeached in the House of Commons. Before conscience made its appearance, corruption was not noticed as such. Organised conscience in one sector apprehends corruption in other sectors. Suppose USA which is on the list of corrupt nations in the 8th place decides to move to the first place and eradicates corruption in every form in all walks of life, her hegemony will be at once lost and a nation that is a non-entity now will occupy her place. Corruption at no level can be totally given up without losing the present eminence attained through corruption. Whatever is attained by corruption cannot otherwise be maintained. It cannot be upheld without corruption. Life achieves her ends by Time in the subsequent generations. To appreciate corruption not as a malady but as a process, one needs an evolutionary maturity in the society.

What starts as corruption, if it persists for a long time, renders the system itself useless. Copying led to mass copying. Even managements organised copying. The result is the examination has become meaningless and is being abolished gradually. Organised corruption leads to the formation of vested interests. It corrupts the very existence of an orderly society. Fake degrees have come in with the result that good degrees are rendered useless. Corruption in money can lead to corruption of basic social values. It leads to Revolution or dissolution of social life as we now know. Vested interests threaten normal life and constitute a danger to orderly life. The degeneration leads to falsehood and organized falsehood. Diplomacy is a field fully qualified as this. Poor villages given en masse to crime settle down in this fashion. Man can be corrupt and be ashamed of it, harbouring it with a guilty feeling. On the other hand, he can even be proud of his evil possession. There will soon be a nuclear disarmament if USA does not pride itself in this possession. One may take the view that the general publics are not fully informed of the real situation. It is my view that, if the public are correctly informed, their pride will rise. Social conscience is not moral; it is based on practical utility. Human nature prefers pride to security. It is the law of social and individual development so far, not something peculiar to nuclear arsenal. This phenomenon has an inverted version. In its extreme, the oppressed adores the oppressor.


Opinions about corruption gain currency and loom large in our minds because we have the general habit of viewing the events from the point of view of the pre war period. It is superstitious and irrational. Social evolution takes different routes to the same goal. I wanted Ramapuram to dig wells. They did so and are prosperous. Had I given them only crop loans and added loans for wedding, housing, etc. and not collected it back, still through another route it is quite possible for them to have reached the same level of present prosperity. Now their path is straight. The other would have been a devious path. But there will be one essential difference. Each route to a goal is capable of opening different further possibilities. The right path and the wrong one may lead to the same goal apparently but in essence their development potentials that are its content will essentially differ, each enjoying its own unique significance.

Laws of a nation often make it possible for a corrupt person to go scot-free. In India no High Court Judge can be removed, he can only be impeached. When impeachment was brought in the Parliament against the most corrupt judge, not even one vote was cast in favour of it. A corrupt society offers its moral protection for a corrupt judge. Present ways of life, now cherished by us, can be branded corrupt by a future society of different values. There was a time when people took pride in their empire. Now it is considered a curse. For about ten years there was a chain of apologies for bombing Hiroshima, for the holocaust, for branding the Jews by the church, etc. In a corrupt atmosphere where corrupt wealth becomes fashionable, half-baked idealists tend to change their values. They really are not idealists in their inmost lives. It was a good behaviour they put up. One long after his retirement tried to become corrupt but failed. He lost his life in an accident. Another who was an idealist in one sector of his career behaved in an opposite way in another sector and became popular among his admirers for his compromise. He used to pass his friends who never performed. His own son defied education, refused to attend college. The father wished to give him a degree by his influence if only he attended the exam. To spite his father, for his own reasons, the son refused to sit for the exam. The father could not ‘serve' his own son as he had done to several others.

Man's progress is by his mind. He starts with his body, works and achieves. From that physical state he moves to the mental capacity passing through the vital relationships with others. Thus he has passed so far through several stages. We take it as three stages, but, as we choose it can be classified into five or ten or even double that number. Russia is a land of intense emotions and they have grown capable of mysticism. America has made it in freedom by hard physical work organised according to an intelligent plan. We, in Tamilnadu are an ethical culture whose values are enshrined in the Thirukkural. One of our values is to honour another's opinion. Thiruvalluvar goes to the extreme length of saying that even when served with poison we should happily drink it. The other man's point of view is thus sacred. To look at a society from its own stage of development, from their own preferences, from their own values, we will find every man is justified in what he does. Such an attitude will justify every crime. A question arises are we to accept every crime committed? Without now going into that wider philosophic topic, we see such an attitude enables us to comprehend any situation rationally. Well, corruption then will enable us to see it in its right perspective of social development. Those who desire to be rational have to take this view. This is the highest standard conceivable. Social will is as much a reality as political will. It is as much defined as the individual will is real to us. Such a will has several tendencies, particularly two, right aspiration as well as wrong urges. In any progressive society the right will be in some excess over the wrong. The maximum progress any society can make is determined by the extent of that right excess. To expect to achieve more than that is moonshine. Well, a society can have the wrong side in excess. In such a case no right ideal can be achieved in that society by any individual however dedicated he is. Sri Aurobindo used to say, ‘I know my countrymen'. Having lost the power of thought, passing through eight centuries of slavery, the Indians who were once known for their prosperity and truthfulness lost both and along with that the self-confidence for survival. It is a wonder that in such depraved conditions we still are left with some things that can be called GOOD. Our political corruption is one expression of a social status developed over almost a millennium. In the light of these ground realities we do not have to lose heart, as we understand two things clearly.

  1. It is within our power to get rid of corruption to a great extent.
  2. Whatever the route the society takes, the goal is going to be wonderful.

There is disgust in us for the prevailing state of affairs. It cannot be sufficiently condemned. At this stage, it is better to pause and remind ourselves that by condemning we shall be postponing the day of its exit. Condemnation is a negative appreciation, a negative attachment. Let us know calm comprehension is superior to condemnation. That way corruption will find its exit at the earliest.

Society for us is a collection of a great many individuals or communities. It really is not that. It is an organised entity, organised by its social will. Society has an aspiration. It is subconscious. That aspiration translates itself into social will. It achieves what it aspires for. There is more. Society is integrated in its consciousness around its aspiration not as an organisation but as a live organism like the human body. It is not moral like man. It is non-moral or amoral. One thing is true; it is fully active all the time conscious or subconscious. To the society there is no discrimination between positive and negative; right or wrong. It acts, if it can. A Member of Parliament became a businessman. He needed political contacts of a higher level. He went to Nehru's house, persuaded his gardener to come away and be his Public Relation Officer (PRO). He gave him a car. That strategy gained him entry into Nehru's house. Later he became close to Indira. He had eternal access to Rajiv who addressed him as uncle. One can imagine the endless avenues for exercising ‘power' through such devious ways. Contacts are valuable in life.

What years of work or even decades of work can or cannot accomplish, contacts can. Such contacts are at the expense of everything a family preserves as a cherished possession. Such men are pompous outside, squeamish before the boss. They are non-entities, persona non-grata. The one thing they cannot enjoy is self-respect. It is that absence of self-respect that achieves. Socially it is degrading, personally it is disgusting, but there is a profound truth in it. Total humility alone achieves. Before society took shape man related to work. There was no person. Only after the society came into existence man was able to compare himself with another. Conceptions of high and low or capable and incapable arose. Human ego was born later. It loved its importance after centuries of existence. Pride was born. It came in the way of achievement. It was not within the range of human perception to be aware of it. Pride was there to be simply enjoyed. In the measure pride finds its place, accomplishment abridges. Pride too is capable of achievement, but it is of another order, an order that belongs to the level one is in. There is a maximum possible accomplishment for a person in the given circumstances. It is only for humility, not for pride. Life is hard, stone hard. It is not easy to accomplish in this human life of ours. A supplier was offering hundreds of services to his principal. When the latter started building a temple, the supplier participated in it to the extent of 4 to 5 crores of rupees. Once he was in arrears of Rs.20 lakhs. He found the principal had ordered to stop further supply. He could get further supply only after paying the bill of Rs.20 lakhs. Life is hard. Your services of 4 crores mean nothing and his bill of Rs.20 lakhs is everything. Imagine the extent of humility one needs to pay those 20 lakhs without resentment. He has no right to consider his services in this context. It is a humiliation. A humility that is incapable of being humiliated is needed for accomplishment. The low, the weak submit. Normal man cannot submit. He cannot accomplish. As life spreads over a vast canvass there are innumerable gaps that are holes. Corruption is one important hole. In such a context of life, it is natural for man to use any gap to get things done. To understand corruption in this light is right for us.

In a school run by a minority community there was a popular Headmaster who was weak in discipline. Teachers belonging to that community enjoyed a certain impurity. There was a mean person with a low character who often used to write threatening anonymous letters to the Headmaster. That man was a thorn in the flesh for many, to the Headmaster he was very much so. Once he needed a small favour from the Headmaster. In a teachers' meeting he came with a garland and garlanded the Headmaster. The Headmaster was overcome with an emotion that made him break down. The rogue teacher got his way. Human nature can swing from one extreme to another and no man will fail to take advantage of these gaps. Corruption is the most common behaviour of the undisciplined member of an unorganised group when they are not caught and punished. Visweswarayya used to carry candles labeled ‘private' and ‘official'. At night when the official work was over he would read with the private candles. It is a fad and has no substance in it. It is the insubstantial behaviour of a solidly substantial man. A young boy lost his father who was in government service. The family was in distress. They had a case in the Munsifs' court where some money was due. The boy met the Munsif to request him to expedite the case. The petty official that he was suddenly grew self-righteous and experienced an outrage. He threatened to hand over the boy to the police instead of advising him not to approach like that. Men who consciously put up a proper behaviour while harbouring subconscious desire for corruption feel such an artificial outrage. Right behaviour is dictated by possible future gains in the world. When it matures, it becomes self-respect. A resourceful man exercises his resources wrongly when he is aware he would not be caught. When he himself becomes the boss it becomes a culture and a way of his life. Corruption becomes the order of the day when those who are unfit to be honest employees become the boss. Democracy demolishes the edifice of values. Ever growing productivity over vast areas puts plenty of money in the hands of dynamic achievers - rogues - who accomplish as they can - buy judges and legislatures. It won't strike animals or animal like population not to be promiscuous. Knowledge of the damage done to the progeny creates concepts of incest. It is a mental knowledge that requires vital enforcement.


India is entering an initial phase of prosperity. As the population grows in TRUST - hire purchase, prompt repayment of bank loans - money proliferates. The growing population raises the level of public trust quantitatively. It is another reason for this recent prosperity. Corruption rises in men in whom there is no sense of shame or self-respect. Shame is a vital shield. In its absence men progress physically. The physical progresses in two ways. When rigidities are formed, they are destroyed to make way for progress. There are stages prior to it where no rigidity can come into existence. It is the stage of the unformed physical. Such a physical by the onslaught of expansive prosperity offers to dissolve. Only men of education can develop in such societies. Even they are capable of shameless activities. Market conditions regulate such men. Product quality, qualified professionals, talented graduates are demanded by an advancing society. They would counter acts of corruption. Unseemly gains, substandard quality themselves are indices of progress in an undeveloped nation. Corruption thrives in corrupt societies. Societies that have not essentially overcome corruption can develop through corruption. Even there the edge will show the direction the society is moving in.


Presence of violence sustains corruption. A violent society declaring itself to be corruption free is false. Corruption goes with violence inevitably. Societies have so many traits, literally millions but there are some whose presence or absence surely indicates other conditions. Punctuality is one such. The rule relating punctuality with corruption is indicative, not absolute. Unpunctual nations enjoy chronic corruption but we cannot declare that punctuality rules out corruption in the life of a nation. Corrupt politicians set a prestigious store by being unpunctual. It is a conscious pride in them. Their corrupt practices are furthered by wanton delays and clever deceit. A greater frequency of accidents shows an unorganised administration. It is a fertile ground for corruption but does not compel corrupt practices. The demagogue is one who can rouse the masses by his mastery of linguistic eloquence. Demagogy differs from eloquence in that the latter expresses thought while the former expresses emotions. It is an instrument that can stir up turbid emotions and can pander to the low tastes of the population. It is a rich soil that can breed corrupt fruits. It is equally true of movements and nations that can powerfully appeal to religious emotion or language, as all of them belong to the same vital category. Of course, patriotism too is an emotion but it is proud as well as pure, does not admit of these vitiating developments. One of the systems of government known as autocracy generally thrives by corruption. Only that the autocrat has no idea of what corruption is; to him anything he can lay his hands on is his income. All idealists swear by means, while all corrupt people justify the means by the ends.


Pious people have sacred items in life. To tamper with them is sacrosanct. Capacity to desecrate opens the door to corrupt ways. There was a time when the Church wiped off sins for a payment. They extended it to previous generations also. Corruption is attractive to non-achievers. They believe they can achieve by corruption what is not attainable. They are unaware of the other aspect of it. Resorting to corruption they will soon be debarred from the zone of accomplishment. Corruption assumes previous standards. It does not build, it only draws upon the existing potentials. Finally they even use up basic reinforcements. Capacity to accept low standards of living, a low standard of morals breeds corruption. The advent of contraceptives helps throw away to the winds the earlier moral restraints. Technology overcomes problems; corruption too does so. Advancing technology makes the unscrupulous adopt corrupt practices without compunction. Corruption is an example for money becoming an effective social force. Even in the instruments of corruption there is a graded refinement. Money, liquor, women are those grades. Money is the most refined form corruption has taken. Gambling is often used as a fit medium. Liquor shop owners who have really become rich are often those who do not drink. Even to be a recipient of such illicit gain, certain purity is often called for. The native home of corruption is diplomacy. Its shining instrument is the medium of bargaining.


Para 5 - line 10 : kind -

Para 5 - line 10 : kind - king.

Para 8 - line 3 : good - goods.

From last 7th para : 1. It is within our power to rid of corruption :

                                                                      to get rid of corruption.

story | by Dr. Radut