The word “Corruption” has its origin in a Latin verb “corruptus” meaning “to break”. Literally, it means “a broken object”. In simple words, corruption means “the misuse of entrusted power for private benefit.” Conceptually, corruption is a form of behavior which departs from ethics, morality, tradition, law and civic virtue. The term corruption has various definitions. The United Nations Manual on Anti-Corruption, the Transparency International, and the multilateral financial institutions like the World Bank and Asian Development Bank define corruption as, “abuse of public office for private gains” The National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS) has defined corruption as “a behavior on the part of office holders in the public or private sector whereby they improperly and unlawfully enrich themselves and/or those close to them, or induce others to do so, by misusing the position in which they are placed.”
To make drinking water a killing stuff, only a drop of poison is needed. Corruption plays the same role in destroying a society, or more rightly a state. With his corrupt actions and deeds, a corrupt man inflicts miseries on the people as they have to resort to using unfair means for doing, having or achieving something.
That’s why it is said that a corrupt man corrupts the whole society.
In its meanings, ‘corruption’ is a broad term; it is not limited to bribery only; rather it permeates moral, social, political and economic spheres as well. The evil of corruption is found in many forms and manifestations with moral, political and economic forms being the most prominent ones.
As regards the matter of moral corruption, it’s a combination of two terms i.e. ‘moral’ and ‘corruption’. When these two terms are combined, several definitions of ‘moral corruption’ pop up; first is that one’s view of what is right and good is simply upended or does not remain in line with the agreed standards and ethical practices of a society. Second aspect is that one tries to achieve some goals that may be moral but the ways and means for achieving it are illegal or unfair — a concept described by Plato as ‘honest lies’. Third, a person is an outright corrupt in terms of morality. For instance, a student who doesn’t do his homework with honesty is morally corrupt; a citizen who shows disloyalty to the state is also a morally-corrupt individual. In fine, to be moral is to have a sense of what is right, good and trustworthy, and a corrupt person has no morals as he is dishonest and untrustworthy in his conduct.
Under the term political corruption, also fall the actions of those in the political arena. They may be politicians or state functionaries or government employees who seek illegitimate gains by making an unfair use of their positions. In this form of corruption, favouritism, misuse and abuse of public office, disregard for merit are the oft-seen phenomena. When politicians make laws for their own personal gains and interests, they do also commit corruption, as they fail to perform the duty for which they have been elected and sent to the corridor of power.
Economic corruption is another manifestation of corrupt practices. Taking bribes, making underhand deals and receiving kickbacks and commissions; all fall under the economic corruption category.
After briefly discussing some means and manifestations of corruption, let’s now have an overview of the hazardous impacts of this menace.
Corruption impacts, by and large, each and every aspect of a society or a state. There is hardly any field of life that could stay immune to its adverse impacts that range from social to political to economic spheres.
Insofar as the matter of social impacts of corruption is concerned, the chief among them is to the social life; it creates in public a resentment against state institutions and distrust in government. Moreover, due to the ills of nepotism, cronyism and favouritism, and with an utter disregard to merit, a society plunges into an abyss where it has to face perpetual crises of unemployment, backwardness and poverty, which are the basic causes of radicalisation and terrorism. When corruption becomes a part of system or, in more appropriate words, becomes a system in itself, people lose trust even in their elected representatives. They believe that such a system serves the interests of only a few privileged ones, and not the public at large.
Moreover, nepotism and favouritism are like a death blow to merit. In such an environment, meritocracy can never come by. Here, it is pertinent to say that the death of merit is the death of talent and the death of talent is the death of a progressive, developed society.
Furthermore, a system wherein the relatives and friends of some influential people are favoured effects an increase in unemployment because the deserving people are discriminated against and crème de la crème of a society is rendered jobless. Such crisis of unemployment has deleterious ramifications for the society.
Thus, lack of trust, evils of nepotism and favouritism, disregard for merit and crisis of unemployment generate chaos and anarchy which further gives rise to suicides, targeted killings, religious or ethnic hatred, enmity and crimes, hence, become the order of the day.
However, the impacts of corruption are not limited to social sphere only; it has political offshoots too. It not only disturbs the social fabric of a society but also devastates the political structure, as it leads to political instability, precarious law and order situation and military interventions as there is an acute crisis of a true, farsighted and visionary leadership.
The cancer of corruption also plagues the economic sphere of a country. It won’t be an exaggeration to say that the good of one is the good of all, and vice versa. Impacts of corruption on economic spheres include more and more dependency on foreign aid, rising internal and external debts, skyrocketing inflation, lack of economic opportunities, low per capita income and meagre savings and investments.
In a state, where political bigwigs, influential bureaucrats and even those doing ordinary jobs are involved in corruption, progress and economic development remains an elusive dream. Huge spending on protocols and luxurious lifestyles of government functionaries eats up the budget that would otherwise be spent on public welfare. Thus, the governments have no option but to borrow from international financial institutions and other countries in order to meet their development expenditures. This raises a country’s dependency on foreign aid.
And, in order to pay back the internal and external debts, governments resort to raising taxation rates and the poor segment of society gets hard hit by this as inflation becomes uncontrollable. In this way, a vicious circle of poverty is created.
One can suggest three measures, which if taken and pursued seriously by those who matter, can help reduce, if not eradicate corruption in Pakistan. First, the justice system must be powerful enough to not only award rigorous punishment to those who are involved in different types of corruption, but should also make sure that its judgments are implemented. Countries where corruption is either at a very low level or is almost non-existent, justice system plays a vital role in providing justice to people without any bribe or nepotism.
Second, along with the justice system, government and its organs must be above corruption or corrupt practices. That can only happen when those who are part of the government, whether at the lower, middle or higher level must be paid well and rewarded of their efficient and honest work. Corruption has permeated in Pakistani society because of bad governance and lack of accountability; When the rule of law is not compromised and the economic conditions of people, particularly those in police, taxation department and revenue are better, corruption can certainly be con-trolled.
Third, eradication of the causes which promote and deepen corruption. Poverty, lack of better education, acceptance of corruption in society and the role of mafias who have not only official patronage but also get a free hand to loot and plunder national wealth.
In order to take effective measures at the state and societal level against corruption, it is imperative that younger generation should be properly educated and mobilized to reduce corruption. Particularly, at the school level there is a need to introduce topics in syllabi which can “induct proper awareness on the menace of corruption. Institutional measures must be taken in various educational institutions of Pakistan by creating small anti-corruption study groups in order to provide training and expertise to eradicate corruption. Yet, the question is when corruption is so deep rooted in Pakistan and’ all state institutions are one way or the other involved in corruption, how can one expect any change as far a reducing the level of corruption is concerned? Whatever may be the reasons for the deepening of corruption in Pakistan it is rightly believed that corruption has become a way of life and this disease cannot be cured with a simple operation. Without a firm policy, which is above contradictions and followed across the board, there is no way one can seek any breakthrough in saving Pakistan from the lethal implications of corruption.
Unless those people who are an integral part of corrupt practices are removed from positions of power and punished, there is no way corruption can be controlled. By taking cosmetic measures corruption will increase and not go down. Corruption has not only become a way of life but has obtained some sort of legitimacy. From any standpoint, a corrupt society cannot be healthy and developed.