In India democracy is only notional. One can see the discriminatory nature of policies for different classes of citizens. The policies adopted have increased the gap between the rich and the poor. This is not just corruption, it is a big scam! says Sandeep Pandey.
A number of secular-progressive social organisations and people's movements struggling for the basic rights of the common people in India have not been very comfortable with the anti-corruption movement led by Anna Hazare which was largely driven by the educated elite middle class in India.
An attempt is made here to give a larger definition of corruption which will encompass all such struggles which stand for the basic dignity of human beings.
Corruption is defined as violation of accepted natural human values.
Honesty is an accepted human value. Nobody in their right senses would support dishonesty. Hence illegal transaction in money is corruption. In spite of the propagation of the view that corruption has become an acceptable part of our system, society still doesn't approve of it as can be seen from the response generated during Anna Hazare's movement.
Honesty is not just limited to money matters. Integrity in terms of being faithful to one's commitment and relationships is also considered as part of the larger definition of honesty. So, violation of trust in any relationship is a form of corruption. A word given to a friend and not kept, is an example.
Not fulfilling one's expected duty -- whether formal or informal -- is corruption. Extra-marital relationships are corruption. The accepted norm is one man-one woman relationship. But if this is violated, then one of the partners feels cheated. In fact, this extends to other relationships as well. Trust between two individuals is violated by one of the partners when he does something which hurts the other partner.
The accepted human value is oneness of God. For the atheist this doesn't matter. But religious people believing in this concept often discriminate between people on the basis of religion. This is corruption. Hence communalism is a kind of corruption.
The accepted human value is living in harmony with nature. But when our lifestyle violates this principle, then we indulge in corruption. Hence all activity which pollutes the environment, increases carbon emission thereby contributing to global warming, puts human beings and their health to risk will fall under the definition of corruption, especially if it is being done knowingly.
There are a number of examples where scientists don't disclose the harmful effects of a technology or the research that they are doing. This is simple dishonesty.
The accepted natural human value is equality. But if we discriminate between people on the basis of caste, class, gender, nationality, race or any other artificial categories of division which have been the creation of the human mind, then this is corruption. It is seen that even modern education is unable to help one get rid of these hierarchies. In fact, it requires lot of effort to just consider other human beings as equal.
The accepted human value in a democracy is equity. But if as a policy-maker one is making policies which help only the rich classes and continuously keeps the less privileged poor, then it is a form of corruption.
In India democracy is only notional. One can see the discriminatory nature of policies for different classes of citizens. Just compare the facilities at a modern airport and a railway station. The railway users would be lucky if they get a clean toilet at the railway station or in their coach.
When the poor live in slums on a piece of land they are described as encroachers but when the same land is acquired and given to a builder for the construction of a multi-storey complex or a shopping mall, it is perfectly legal. The policies adopted in India have increased the gap between the rich and the poor. This is not just corruption, it is a big scam!
The accepted human value is sharing of resources. So, consuming or hoarding more than one's share is corruption. Natural resources are there to fulfill the needs of all human beings and they should be just treated as such. The idea of ownership of natural resources by the species which arrived last on earth is unnatural.
It is ridiculous that a human being who lives on this earth for less than a hundred years considers himself to be the owner of things which have been around for thousands and lakhs of years. It is corruption and that is why disputes over natural resources are most common between human beings, whether it is a piece of land at stake between two brothers or between two nations.
The idea of making a profit on a natural resource like land, water, forest or mineral by a private company is corruption. It is unethical to think of resources which are not created by human beings but serve the basic purpose of sustaining human life as market commodities.
The accepted human value is peace. Hence use of violence either in relationships or in organised form by non-State groups or the State is corruption. Capital punishment would also fall in this category. We have no right to take away somebody's life or inflict violence on anybody. Obviously, all fake encounters and illegal arrests would classify as corruption.
In India a number of innocent people get killed by the police and army or are spending time in jail or in illegal custody. This kind of corruption is also of the proportion of a scam.
The accepted natural human value is cooperation. But first the government and then the market have glorified competition. This has given rise to corruption. Competition promotes corruption whereas cooperation eliminates it.
It is also interesting to note that all natural accepted values are compatible with each other. For example peace, cooperation, sharing, equity, equality, communal harmony, transparency in transactions and relationships all go along with each other. However, corruption will always result in conflict.
Magsaysay Award winner Sandeep Pandey is a social activist.