Any illegal act, fraudulent conduct, or dishonest way of acquiring benefits or private gains is called corruption.
Corruption is a global phenomenon, but it is more prevalent in third-world countries. It exists in various forms, i.e. bribery, extortion, nepotism, patronage, embezzlement, etc. Usually, corruption is done for financial gains. Mostly, people in power do corruption by exploiting their position of authority.
There are numerous factors that translate into corruption. These factors include poverty, lust for money, lack of morality and ethics, political influences, poor checks, and balances, etc. A society with rampant corruption can never make any progress. Corruption wreaks multiple havoc on society. It leads to unemployment, poverty, the drain of talent, anxiety, etc.
Thus, owing to the dire consequences of corruption, a state must make uprooting corruption its priority. Robust laws and policies can help in this regard.
Causes of Corruption
There are multiple causes of corruption. Below are some prominent causes:
Poverty is a major cause of corruption. When people fail to earn enough money for survival, they resort to corruption.
Usually, people with low incomes and tough job routines commit corruption to gain money. For example, in Pakistan, the police department is notorious for taking bribes and corruption. One main reason is the low salaries of lower-rank police officers.
Thus, they perforce acquire money through illegal ways. Similarly, traffic police officials often prefer to accept bribes as an alternative to challan. Such illegal practices have tarnished the image of the police department. Moreover, people have lost trust in the police.
Corruption in the police department was just one instance. It actually exists in every tier of society. A poor fruit vendor tries to sell rotten fruit for maximum benefit. A shopkeeper sells 2nd class products but charges them as 1st class products. A clerk in any department takes money to move files. At petrol pumps, employees are often found doing fraud in filling fuel tanks. In all these examples of corruption, one prominent factor is poverty.
Lust for Wealth
The second prominent reason for corruption is the lust for money. Many people in higher positions also commit corruption which is labeled as a white-collar crime.
White-collar crime refers to a financially motivated, nonviolent crime committed by businesses and government professionals. These people are not poor, but their love for money and wealth makes them commit corruption. Many government officials, bureaucrats, and politicians do corruption to stash more and more wealth.
For example, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has disqualified ex-Premier Nawaz Sharif due to his corruption. This form of corruption is widespread in countries with a lack of rule of law.
Lack of Morality
The third factor behind corruption is lack of morality. Declining moral values is the root cause of corruption in any society.
Not all poor people are corrupt because they have a moral sense. They can differentiate legal ways of obtaining money from illegal ways. But those who commit corruption are morally corrupt. Their love and lust for wealth have made them blind.
As discussed earlier, poverty can be a reason for corruption but that is too conditioned by a lack of morality. A poor person can be honest. Similarly, a rich person can be corrupt. Thus moral values and ethics play a greater role.
Another major reason for corruption can be external pressure or political influence. Such sort of corruption is done during the selection of candidates for limited seats.
Those with a strong political background successfully influence the selection process and grab seats; while the deserving candidates remain deprived. It leads to a lack of merit and a drain of real talent from the country. Furthermore, such corruption further promotes corruption and the chain goes on.
Lack of Rule of Law
Last but not least, lack of rule of law and poor checks and balances are also major reasons behind rampant corruption in a country.
According to the ‘Classical School in Criminology’, strict punishments always deter individuals from committing crimes. Societies where punishments are missing always suffer from crimes.
Without a robust judicial system in place, no country can uproot corruption. Thus, across-the-board accountability can only deter and uproot corruption or white-collar crimes from the country.
Impacts of Corruption on Society
Having discussed a few major factors behind corruption, it is pertinent to shed light on the impacts of widespread corruption on a country.
A major impact of corruption is the widening gap between rich and poor. Corruption stops the flow of wealth from rich to poor. Consequently, the rich are getting richer while the poor are becoming poorer.
Moreover, corruption results in anxiety among individuals which leads to brain drain. When talented and deserving people fail to get an allocation in their desired seats, they leave the country in search of better opportunities.
Furthermore, corruption spoils the image of the country at the global level. It further leads to a decline in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), because investors do not invest in countries with high corruption rates.
Apart from it, when corruption exists at higher echelons of society i.e. in the judiciary and executive institutions, it automatically permeates to the lower levels making the entire society corrupt.
Also, corruption erodes the trust of the public in institutions.
Lastly, corruption leads to the wastage of taxes and overall economic downfall.
Suggestions to curb Corruption
Given the dire consequences of corruption, a state must take pragmatic measures to nip this evil.
Corruption can be curbed by making stringent laws and awarding punishments to corrupt people. There should be across-the-board accountability in a country. From Prime Minister to the clerk, everyone should be punished in the court of law for corruption.
A system of checks and balances should be instituted to stop embezzlement and money laundering.
Furthermore, the government should promote meritocracy. Jobs must be awarded on pure merit.
Moreover, the government should increase the salaries of employees. Also, the government must take pragmatic steps to eliminate poverty.
In addition, special attention should be laid on inculcating moral values and ethics in students. An education system devoid of it is good for nothing.
Last but not least, whistleblowing is one of the most effective ways to detect and prevent corruption and other malpractice. It must be instituted in all the departments at every level.
In a nutshell, corruption hollows out society as termites do to wood.
Currently, most developing countries are at the top of the corruption index. This is the reason why they are unable to make any socio-economic progress.
In order to curb corruption, a state must make stringent laws and policies. It must take all the above-mentioned steps in letter and spirit to fight corruption. Once successful, a state can be able to stand among the comity of the most developed nations.
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