Dealing with corruption

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Governor Satya Pal Malik’s assertions about corruption in Jammu and Kashmir are sounding music to the ears of common people. They are the people who have all along been on the receiving end. They are the people who get exploited by corrupt practices of politicians and bureaucrats. These people have always been talking and complaining about the rampant corruption here but had no takers. Now that the constitutional head of Jammu and Kashmir has publicly admitted that corruption has reached nefarious heights and state’s resources and exchequer have been brazenly looted by a few, people feel vindicated. Though while making corruption assertions Malik courted a controversy when he said that militants, instead of killing innocent people, should target these big sharks of corruption, he however, made some necessary corrections saying such was his anger and frustration against corrupt that he said something which he should not have said. Several politicians have reacted to Governor’s corruption related remarks but interestingly they have decided to target the one liner referring to militants and are mainly silent about the broader statement wherein Governor said that the politicians have looted the state shamelessly and made fortunes for themselves. For the common masses, Governor is speaking their language. They feel vindicated and therefore they are loving every word the Governor is saying about the corrupt and corruption.

That said, corruption cannot be weeded out by making statements only. What Governor said about the gravity of corruption here is true but the need is to find ways and means to tackle the menace. The fight against corruption is to be started from the top. By arresting small clerks and patwaris for taking bribes of a few thousand rupees is not going to help. The Governor’s administration need to target, what Governor himself called, Badi Machlian (big sharks) of corruption. Governor has hinted that some cases of a few top politicians are already being examined. Let these investigations be carried out with utmost pace and those found guilty be named and shamed and booked under relevant laws. Once people see that happening, the state of Jammu and Kashmir will see a new transformation. Peoples’ faith in the system would be restored and that will go a long way in creating a healthy and corruption free society.

And also, the society too will have to wake up to this menace. Those who take bribes and those who give are both from our society and those who have looted public money too are from the same society. The problem is that corruption has remained so rampant for decades that it has become sort of norm. It has been institutionalized and, in a way, legitimized. Corrupt people are not looked down upon, they are respected and honoured. If a son is seen smoking or consuming alcohol, he is thrashed by his parents. But if the same son comes home with money more than what his known sources of income offer, he becomes the darling child. This mindset is to be changed. Corruption and corrupt are to be targeted publicly, from mosques, from media outlets and from civil society platforms. And then only corruption will get stigmatized and those having corrupt tendencies with think thrice before indulging in such practices.

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