Corruption is an important manifestation of the failure of ethics. Discuss. Also, suggest ways to reduce corruption in government offices. (250 Words)

Corruption is a constant in society and occurs in all civilizations; however, it has only been in the past 20 years that this phenomenon has begun being seriously explored. It has many different shapes as well as many various effects, both on the economy and the society at large. Among the most common causes of corruption are the political and economic environment, professional ethics and morality and, of course, habits, customs, tradition, and demography.

How Corruption is an important manifestation of the failure of ethics?

  • Misuse of discretionary power: In a country like India where the discretionary powers are conferred upon administrative institutions. This concentration of power is responsible for the breeding of corrupt practices. As Lord Acton rightly said, “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely”.
  • Personal greed that leads to an unfettered desire for money or power, with no regard whatsoever to moral boundaries. The underlying anthropological cause is the innate human impulse to own external goods when it is not subject to personal integrity.
  • Decline of personal ethical sensitivity, either due to lack of education or negative learning experiences, developed by downplaying perverse conduct in the past.
  • No sense of service when working in public or private institutions. This is seen, for instance, in those who use politics for their selfish interests, instead of serving the common good through politics.
  • Low awareness or lack of courage to denounce corrupt behavior and situations conducive to corruption. That is the case of someone who is aware of corruption and stays quiet.
  • Lack of transparency, especially at the institutional level, but also in less formal organizations.
  • Lack of moral criteria in promotions. Corruption is prevalent when there are no criteria for proven integrity and responsibility in the promotion. Such criteria are ignored when someone is promoted simply because of their loyalty to whoever is in charge or those in control of the party. Or if it is only their strategic or organizational skills that are evaluated
  • Downplaying or reacting mildly to corruption charges. Little power of decision within organizations to penalize acts of corruption to set examples creates an environment conducive to perpetuating corruption

Ways to reduce corruption in government offices:

The Second Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) On Corruption and LokPal the Second ARC was constituted in 2005 and submitted its 4th report on “Ethics in Governance”. The terms of reference of this Commission regarding corruption are:

  • Vigilance: Strengthening pro-active vigilance to eliminate corruption and harassment to honest civil servants.
  • Institutional framework: The Commission has examined the relevant laws, codes, and manuals, which deal with ethics and corruption.
  • Ethics in governance: There is a need for ethics in every profession, voluntary organization and civil society structure as these entities are now vitally involved in the process of governance. There should be ethics in citizen behavior because such behavior impinges directly on ethics in government and administration.
  • Code of Ethics: It is, therefore, necessary that in addition to the Code of Conduct, there should be a Code of Ethics to provide guidance on how Ministers should uphold the highest standards of constitutional and ethical conduct in the performance of their duties.
  • Value and character: The implicit assumption is that until values are restored, nothing much can be done to improve the conduct of human beings.
  • Both values and institutions matter. Values are needed to serve as guiding stars, and they exist in abundance in our society. A sense of right and wrong is intrinsic to our culture and civilization. But values need to be sustained by institutions to be durable and to serve as an example to others.
  • Rule of law: In the ultimate analysis, the state and a system of laws exist in order to enforce compliance and promote desirable behavior. Therefore, enforcement of the rule of law and deterrent punishment against corruption are critical to build an ethically sound society.
  • Empowerment of citizens: It is well recognized that every democracy requires the empowerment of citizens in order to hold those in authority to account. Right to Information, effective citizens’ charters, opportunity and incentives to promote proactive approach of citizens, stake-holders’ involvement in the delivery of public services, public consultation in decision making and social auditing are some of the instruments of accountability that curbed corruption and promote integrity and quality of decision making.
  • Over-centralization: A factor that increases corruption is over-centralization. The more remotely power is exercised from the people, the greater the distance between authority and accountability. The large number of functionaries between the citizen and final decision-makers makes accountability diffused and the temptation to abuse authority strong.
  • Penalty: A new chapter of the penalty and pay damages in criminal cases of corrupt public servants should be introduced in the Prevention of Corruption act. The decision of the Government on this recommendation is pending. To speed up the trial under the P.C.A. needs to be fixed a time limit for various stages of trial and proceedings of courts by amending the criminal procedure code day-to-day basis.
  • Bureaucracy: Most of the public grievances crop up due to the inherent nature of the bureaucracy. There is a built-in relationship between the increasing number of public grievances and the nature of the ever-growing bureaucracy. The institution of Lokpal is considered as the citizen‟s defender.

Elimination of corruption is not only a moral imperative but an economic necessity for a nation aspiring to catch up with the rest of the world. Improved governance in the form of non-expropriation, contract enforcement, and a decrease in bureaucratic delays and corruption can raise the GDP growth rate significantly.

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