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Observing anti-corruption day not enough, root out ‘corruption within’


By Nithin Sridhar

Since 2003, December 9 has been observed annually as the ‘International Anti-Corruption Day’. And, as part of this anti-corruption day, various awareness programs are carried out across the globe.

Corruption is a multi-headed monster. Though, the menace is prevalent across the globe, in many a sense, it has created more troubles in India than at most other places owing to India’s huge population, the majority of whom are middle class or poor.

Corruption in India exists at all levels: Legislative, Executive, and Judiciary. In 2014, India was ranked at 85th position in the global corruption index with a score of 38 by the corruption watchdog Transparency International India (TII). This score was only slightly more than 2013 score of 36.

India has witnessed some of the largest corruption scandals in the world: Coal allocation scam (Cost around Rs 186000 crores), 2G spectrum scam (Rs 176000 crores), Common Wealth Games scam (Rs 70000 crores), and Adarsh Housing scam (Rs 18978 crores).

Then, there is the raging issue of black money. The magnitude of black money stashed abroad has been estimated from a few billion dollars to few trillion dollars. According to the industry body Assocham, around 2 trillion dollars of black money are likely to be stashed overseas. A huge amount of black money is also estimated to be present within India itself.

Corruption, bribery, illegal nexus, money laundering, misuse of power, and nepotism could be observed from the lowest clerical level to highest bureaucracy and judiciary. Be it real estate, construction, multi-nationals, or defense, in every sector one can witness the menace of corruption. Just yesterday, on December 8, Karnataka Lokayukta, Y Bhaskar Rao- the anti-graft ombudsman- was forced to resign after allegations of extortion surfaced.

Corruption has become so much deep-rooted, people have come to accept it as part of a norm. And those who refuse to pay bribes to a government officer or some other private broker end up facing innumerable difficulties due to the obstacles being thrown in their paths.

Internal corruption 

This monster of corruption, with many roots and branches, cannot be rooted out by simply observing an anti-corruption day. No doubt, the observance of such days will go a long way in creating awareness, but such awareness will have a very minimal impact as long as there are no efforts to bring about internal transformation among the people.

Corruption must be countered at all levels, from lowest to highest, but more important is to first root out internal corruption present within the hearts and minds of the people. Unless and until this internal corruption is addressed, no external solution will have lasting value.

The root cause of corruption and nepotism is human desire and greed. Greed is nothing but unrestrained desire. This greed in turn leads a man to become selfish and blind towards his larger role and responsibility towards the society.

Most of the present efforts are concerned only with implementing stringent laws to prevent corruption and creating awareness about problems caused due to corruption. In other words, corruption is being portrayed as a vice and honesty as a virtue. Of course, honesty is a virtue, but it is something more. It is a universal duty and not just an option. The current efforts at removing corruption have been ineffective at bringing any internal transformation simply because, honesty and dishonesty are being portrayed as choices.

On the other hand, the ancient Indic seers who had examined the human nature in all its dimensions had rightly concluded that human greed is a powerful force that drives human actions and such actions, invariably, lead to sorrow and suffering for the person as well as for the society.

Thus, they realized that the only way to cleanse the human heart and mind of this greed is to restrain the desires and regulate the actions. This restraining and regulation of human actions later came to be known as ‘duties’ or obligations. Thus, virtuous actions became ‘duties’ that people were obliged to perform and vice actions became ‘prohibited’ that people were ought to avoid.

This ‘sense’ of honesty as an obligated duty and ‘corruption’ as a prohibited vice is completely missing from the current narrative on corruption. The awareness campaigns and observation of anti-corruption day will not be able to bring in any real and long-term transformation, unless and until a ‘duty’-based narrative is stitched into the current discourse on corruption. Only a sense of duty will ultimately be able to root out corruption from the hearts and minds of the people.


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Pentavalent vaccine: Doctors raise red flag

In spite of the data presented in this paper from a large cohort, the authors point out that the evidence is merely circumstantial and not conclusive

the new Hepatitis B vaccine for adults is called Heplisav-B.
India's PV to be reexamined because of its harmful effects. .
  • Pentavalent vaccine was introduced in India six years ago
  • It is since then have been a cause of many deaths
  • Doctors want it to be reexamined before continuing its use

Pentavalent vaccine (PV), that was introduced by India a little over six years ago, doubled the deaths of children soon after vaccination compared to the DPT (Diphtheria-Pertussis-Tetanus) vaccine, according to a new study that calls for a “rigorous review of the deaths following vaccination with PV”.

Health officials have launched a campaign targeting nearly 24 million people with a one-fifth dose of the vaccine. Wikimedia Commons
PV has been cause of many deaths in past years. Wikimedia Commons

Government records show that there were 10,612 deaths following vaccination (both PV and DPT) in the last 10 years. There was a huge increase in these numbers in 2017, which the Health Ministry has promised to study. “The present analysis could be a starting point in the quest to reduce the numbers of such deaths,” authors of the new study say.

The study by Dr Jacob Puliyel, Head of Pediatrics at St Stephens Hospital, and Dr V. Sreenivas, Professor of Biostatistics at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), both in New Delhi, is published in the peer-reviewed Medical Journal of Dr D.Y. Patil University.

PV is a combination of the DPT vaccine and two more vaccines against Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) and hepatitis B. Starting December 2011, PV was introduced into India’s immunisation programme to replace DPT vaccine in a staged manner with a view to adding protection against Hib and Hepatitis B without increasing the number of injections given to infants.

Doctors have raised concerns over these vaccines. Wikimedia Commons
Doctors have raised concerns over these vaccines. Wikimedia Commons

But sporadic reports of unexplained deaths following immunisation with PV had been a matter of concern. Puliyel, Sreenivas and their colleagues undertook the study to find out if these deaths were merely coincidental or vaccine-induced.

The authors obtained data of all deaths reported from April 2012 to May 2016 under the Right to Information Act. Data on deaths within 72 hours of administering DPT and PV from different states were used.

For their study, the authors assumed that all deaths within 72 hours of receiving DPT are natural deaths. Using this figure as the baseline, they presumed that any increase in the number of deaths above this baseline among children receiving PV must be caused by this vaccine.

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According to their analysis of the data provided by the government, there were 237 deaths within 72 hours of administering the Pentavalent vaccine — twice the death rate among infants who received DPT vaccine.

Extrapolating the data, the authors have estimated that vaccination of 26 million children each year in India would result in 122 additional deaths within 72 hours, due to the switch from DPT to PV.

“There is likely to be 7,020 to 8,190 deaths from PV each year if data from states with the better reporting, namely Manipur and Chandigarh, are projected nationwide,” their report says.

It is important to make sure that these vaccines are reexamined peroperly. VOA

The authors note that while the study looks at the short-term increase in deaths (within three days of vaccination) it does not calculate the potential benefits of PV on infant mortality, for example by protection against lethal diseases like Haemophilus influenza.

In spite of the data presented in this paper from a large cohort, the authors point out that the evidence is merely circumstantial and not conclusive. “These findings of differential death rates between DPT and PV do call for further rigorous prospective population-based investigations,” the study concludes. IANS