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How corrupt are we?

  • Published at 12:02 am October 5th, 2019
Corruption
Photo: BIGSTOCK

We must change as a nation in order to thrive

Sometimes, your child, as part of his or her homework, emails you a photograph and requests a printout from your office printer. What do you do? The printer is not meant for your personal use. Yet, you might think a one page printout is nothing.

There are many actions that we unknowingly involve ourselves in. We never assess ourselves after doing those things. We never question whether what we did was right or wrong.

I wonder whether we have an inclination to be corrupt.

The word corruption connotes dishonest or fraudulent conduct. In the dictionary, it denotes people in power. But in reality, any individual can be corrupt. As a nation, we Bengalis have been branded as among the most corrupt countries several times. We always point fingers at our government, as if the government is primarily responsible for all the corrupt practices. We never ask ourselves how corrupt we all are; how inclined to corruption we all are.

Ask any businessman of this country how much money he or she has to pay to get a permit or get any file moved from one desk to another. They -- almost everyone -- will say that they won’t mind paying bribes for getting their work done. They might even tell you that the money they pay for getting the work done is not actually bribe.

The corrupt practices through bribes are an established fact of life, and we are ready to spend our money for getting the work done easily.

Why does a teacher put less effort in classrooms and pay more importance in out-of-school tuition? It’s because there’s more money in tuition. Would you call this corruption? There are teachers who favour students only when these students agree to take private tuition with them. That’s obviously corruption.

We have been hearing about adulteration of food items since our childhood. We have not progressed and the situation has worsened. You won’t find any food item which is without adulteration.

Look at our police force. We don’t have to look up any study or any index to understand that they are mired in corruption; our experiences are quite enough to come to a conclusion.

Our roads become dilapidated after just one shower of rain. Everyone knows about the durability of our bridges. How many builders of this country actually follow the building codes?

Recently, our law minister has expressed concern over the increase in criminal tendencies among educated people, adding that the literate are getting more involved in corruption. While talking about corruption, the former DMP chief said that it was not just the failure of law enforcers, but a failure of the whole society. 

Our prime minister has also expressed deep frustration. She said the country would rise to a different level if there was no corruption.

The frustration has come to the fore after the government began an anti-corruption drive against those who have been running illegal business. Our eyebrows have been raised regarding several bigwigs, including many members of the parliament.

We are not surprised to see the headlines that many of them are utterly corrupt; we know that they chose politics to earn money. While I commend the government’s initiative, there’s also fear that the government may, at some point, bow down to the criminals. 

We hope our government has courage and continues its drive against the dishonest. Otherwise, we may not sustain as nation. We have to change. 

Ekram Kabir is a story-teller. His other works are available on ekramkabir.com.