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The Menace Of Corruption In Kashmir – OpEd

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The world of today is beset with a majority of problems, out of which corruption forms a unique case in itself. It is not a divine covenant or accidental problem, but a canker generated in the system out of the human intervention under the garb of power. It has over the course of time manifested into a global problem.

Corruption is a widespread phenomenon over the world that has assumed the shape of a perpetuating institution through the unholy nexus of corrupted persons in the world. Corruption is a problem in perpetuity of enormous magnitude. Kashmir which was once an abode of high morality and ethical standards is unfortunately driving towards a state of moral waywardness under the garb of which those in power misuse their authority for their selfish gains and put a common man in a state of despair and official apathy.

The CMS India Corruption Study 2017 places Jammu and Kashmir as most corrupt among twenty surveyed states in India. The recent unearthening of the KVIB and CET scam or likewise scams in the past in J&K has created ruckus among the intellectual class in particular and common people in general about the faulty system of working in our state and created a sentimental and emotional current of powerlessness of the masses of the democracy . It is all about the looseness of our law and administrative system which have generated a feeling of mistrust among the common masses and given inner strength to the culprits to exploit the people, even downtrodden and poor under the false sensuality of power. Not a single department of the government is free and devoid of this problem. The problem can be in the form of administrative corruption, medical corruption, educational corruption, bureaucratic corruption, revenue corruption, tax evasion, other corruption, etc. making our social fabric woven under the corruption culture.

Corruption can be defined in a variable number of ways with different aspects across the nation-states of the globe. According to Plato and Aristotle, corruption is the general disease of body politics.

Corruption is the abuse of public power for self-interests. The term “corruption” refers to the misuse of resources or power for private gain. Transparency International defines corruption as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. Corruption is the dishonest or fraudulent conduct by the people in power, typically involving bribery. In Kashmir, they call it tea round the year and Iftaar during the holy month of Ramadan. Corruption can take the form of revenue officials, patwaris, tax evaders, clerks, doctors, etc. Few doctors indulging in private practices, besides government jobs prescribe medicines and tests ascribed to particular medical stores and laboratories.

In lieu of the official work done, some clerks resort to money laundering from the desperate and needy people. Patwaris in case of land transfer agreements between respective parties resort to extortion of money, which is not only illegal, but also violation of the law. Although, all cannot be measured in the same balance. But, as a matter of fact, there are black sheep in every community. It is due to lack of fear and respect for law that gives a free hand to the exploiters to exploit others. Government must act tough against these people who not only misuse their authority, but also put the life of the common men in perils. Even, other people who ask for money from the needy people should be put to trial The recent outcry over the social media over the functioning of government recruitment agencies due to leakage of question papers has raised eyebrows over them and the respective system failure. Unfortunately, the government and policy makers are paying insufficient attention to corruption. Public awareness is vital aspect to combat corruption.

Corruption is caused due to individual, social and organisational factors, politico-economical, administrative, psychological factors, monopoly power, discretionary power and weak accountability of public officials. Corruption can be in the form of political patronage, nepotism, etc. Corruption is a multifaceted phenomenon that results as a result of interactions, opportunities, strengths and weaknesses in socio-political systems. Corruption causes maximum suffering to the people and has flourished unfortunately due to lack of transparency, moral values, accountability and institutional weakness in our systems.

Corruption is an old aged phenomenon which is so rampant nowadays that it has assumed the nature of a malignancy in our society and refuses to calm down. It is the abuse of public power for private and personal gains. Corruption can assume the form of extortion of money, fraud, bribery, embezzlement, misappropriations of public goods, favouritism, nepotism, etc. Corruption is a form of dishonesty undertaken by a person entrusted with a position of authority in order to achieve the personal benefits. Corruption entails a lot of activities like bribery, nepotism, embezzlement, etc. though it may also contain practices that are legalized in various nations of the world.

Corruption has very harmful effects on the economic and political developments of a state. It decreases the efficiency of public spending and revenues, increases the budget deficit, and roadblocks the democratic development. Above all, it creates an unjust society where poor remain the poor and rich ascend the ladder of triumph through the use of unjust and illegal means. This calls into question the trickle-down theory of economics.

Corruption is a major challenge for all the nation states of the world, whether big or small. Over the world, there is today a greater interest in the problem of corruption. The fight against corruption should ensue reforms from the state and attitudinal changes from the subjects. Without the reformative discourse of the state, the problem will continue to persist.

Unfortunately, the recent century has seen a surge in the corruption. Actions should be taken by the respective government to reduce this persisting problem of corruption. The government of J&K must pass an ordinance in the Legislative assembly with a strong lawful foundation to arrest the problem of corruption in Kashmir at the very genetic roots under the provisions of which a common man would be able to live in a corruption-free state.

Those indulging in corruption should be dealt strongly under the provisions of law. This will entail a society free of corruption within the ambit of good governance as Corruption is immoral and antithetical to moral virtues of the societies. This will erase the bad name of the state where the question of integrity and impartiality has been diluted due to corruption in vogue. Systemic corruption has a great bearing on the economic system of the nations. We should also have a strong Lokayata. The citizens should ask for information with respect to public services through the tool of Right to Information Act.

Conclusion:

Since the dawn of human life on the Earth, there has been entry and exodus of the problems which have called time and again for the intervention of the humans to solve them. Corruption being malice of the current times is a dreadful menace that has spread its roots and tentacles deeply in the human society. It is not about the innocence of the victims of corruption, rather the silence of their inner conscience. Together; we can play a great role to get rid of this menace. Those who face similar situations of corruption from the officials demanding money in lieu of lawful works to be done should report it to the vigilance, crime branch,media,etc.

This will create fear psychosis in the culprits and provide momentum to a just and a good society. Government officials demanding money from the common masses for the official work done should be brought to the notice of the higher authorities in order to elude the injustice thereof. People should not fear about the cons, rather should be in a know-how that the same work to be done legally by the government officials is the very right of the citizens and duty of the officials under the constitution of India. Government of the state gives salaries to the officials for the same functions, and to demand extra money under the unofficial and illegal means is tantamount to the violation of the rights of the citizens which has a severity of punishment under the provisions of law. Above the moral plane of thought lies the spiritual inclination of unilateral vision, which is giving a close call time and again that one day these people have to be answerable before God for the misdeeds they have done in this world and muster the courage to face the wrath of the divine commandment and edict forever. Cutting long story short, the problem of corruption will persist as long as the system doesn’t change and to keep silence is also equivalent to the commitment of crime.

In order to combat the problem of corruption, we have to revert to the great saying of Mahatma Gandhi that, ‘be the change you want to see in the world’.

In order  to tackle the festering problem of corruption in toto, Strong laws with solid Enforcement, good e-governance system, rigorous public education, Political will to fight; Coordination of civil society and integrity and impartiality of the officials is the need of the hour.

There are various anti-corruption laws available in the state which can be used as reliable tools in case of corrupt practices take a particular form. They can be used against the erring officials involved in the vicious cycle of corruption .These include Indian Penal Code, 1860;Prosecution section of Income Tax Act, 1961;The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988;The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988 to prohibit Benami transactions; Prevention,etc.This will entail subsequent penalty and punishment against the erring corrupted officials. A person involved in case of bribery could be sentenced from six months to seven years.

The lack of accountability and transparency has given a free hand of manueverism to both givers and takers of bribe. The absence of objective-cum-impartial standards and transparency make conditions and situations ripe for corruption. So, the ultimate question is the redressel of problem in unison to weed out the malice once for all in the state of Jammu and Kashmir where government and people have a dual role to play here for justice delayed is justice denied.

*Abid Ahmad Shah works in the Govt. Education Dept. J&K, views are personal.


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