When driving up to Woodstock School for the first time, I witnessed an event that bothered me, in spite of how trivial it appeared to be. When we reached the tollgate between Dehradun and Mussoorie, the gatekeeper saw that we were foreigners and asked the taxi driver for the tax imposed on tourists. When the gatekeeper took out his tax book, the taxi driver discreetly passed him some money. The book disappeared, and we were through.
Although I didn’t understand it at the time, that was corruption; a little money to the gatekeeper and everyone wins. The taxi driver can keep more money from our fee and the gatekeeper gets a free tip. But what about the toll reserved for the Indian government? These acts of corruption take away money meant for the government, meaning that it can’t improve the quality of life. In the end, the entire population suffers. This suggests how even the lowest degree of corruption perturbs the country.
I looked into these acts of corruption and found that bribery is a serious problem, especially in India. Transparency International conducted a survey and found that “nearly seven in ten people who had access to public services had paid a bribe.” This is terrible as it means India is a society where the value of honesty has depreciated to almost nothing.
Corruption is a major problem in many other developing countries as well. Robert Mugabe’s actions as president in Zimbabwe is an obvious example. When Zimbabwe became independent, Mugabe was there to lead it through the struggle, but as he got addicted to the power he started valuing his own interests rather than his country’s. In 2008, he came second in the first round of elections; however, his forces attacked the opposition supporters until eventually, the contender gave up. He also crashed the economy, leading to an inflation rate of 231 million percent, which has had lasting effects on Zimbabwe. Although this may seem extreme, in situations of mass corruption, entire countries can fall.
It is easy to say that these acts of corruption are limited to developing countries, but that is wrong. Ten minutes of research and you can find numerous examples of corrupt practices committed in developed nations. David Cameron, former Prime Minister of England, was exposed to have kept money in an offshore bank account in Panama to avoid taxes. In Italy, the government hires building contractors that put “profits before safety” which could have been the reason that the Morandi bridge collapsed, taking 38 lives. In Russia, Vladimir Putin managed to stay in power for over 17 years, since 2000, despite the maximum term being 6 years. This included a period where Dmitry Medvedev, Putin’s apprentice, held the position “in name at least” so that Putin could remain in control, while it still looked legal. All three of these are clear examples of power leading to corruption practices.
That’s not to say that there are no corrupt leaders, but their rarity is what makes them stand out. One example is Nelson Mandela, a leader who had significant contributions in ending the apartheid in South Africa, bringing equality to all. He donated a third of his presidential salary to the poor and sick. His selfless acts of generosity will be remembered forever, and yet so few other leaders are known for similar traits. A world with everyone like Mandela would be one without corruption, and yet we are so far from achieving this goal.
I don’t understand why so many governments are oblivious to the value of anti-corruption. The 20 least corrupt countries in the world are all are in the top 50 countries for GDP (Gross Domestic Product) per Capita. This is a clear correlation that transparency benefits a country, and yet corruption still goes on. Maybe, a small bribe at a tollgate doesn’t seem like a lot, and maybe these people deserve all the help they can get, but if everyone paid their taxes and was fair to the system, everyone would have better lives.
All over the world, people in positions of power exploit their status despite promises of honesty and justice. From the lowly positions of a gatekeeper all the way to prime ministers, people are corrupt. But no matter where it occurs, it brings an adverse effect. In governments, schools, and businesses, people are corrupt. Sometimes it is to help society, but more often than not, it is for personal gain. From bribery, to blackmail, to embezzlement, leaders have chosen to do what is best for themselves, rather than their subordinates because of their base instinct of selfishness. But that doesn’t mean we give up.
The new Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign has already caused “more than a million Communist Party Officials” to be disciplined in recent years due to corruption. If other similarly corrupt countries followed their lead, it could bring about a huge change.
As individuals, we can also act. Talk to people, raise awareness, protest against the government’s unjust actions. Kurt Cobain said, “The duty of youth is to challenge corruption.” We are the youth. The duty is ours. Let’s not watch in silence anymore. If we don’t bring the change, who will?
Edited by Archi Nokrek.
6 thoughts on “Corruption takes a toll on countries”
So brilliantly written, kudos to the author. On the subject of the toll at Mall Road or lack of proper accounting as detailed by the author. I suggest our best defense is to be aware of the Toll prior to arriving or participating on the journey, so we should all including myself do a bit of research on our journey before our journey begins. Knowledge is a sledgehammer it can break any barrier. Good luck to all and keep up the excellent writing .
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It is commendable that you dare talk about a topic such as corruption; I understand that it may be perceived that corruption is a symptom of a broken system. In that case, how do you intend to fix a system that is widely accepted by many? Will you write a manifesto, encouraging the youth to take ownership? No. And here’s the reason why: because so much of the youth today is submissive. The things that occupy most people’s mind is dictated by the media, especially those of the celebrity and fashion status. Imagine a world where fame and status determine the legitimacy of one’s life. That is the world we sadly live in. Politicians, which are most of the time (excluding communist, totalitarian regimes) are symptoms of a broken system. In a world where the individual is dominating, how do you possibly intend for people to actually care about corruption? As a student, one of the things that we care about is getting into college and sometimes nothing else matters but achieving that goal. I have this illness; it plagues the ability to empathize. Furthermore, you even commend Xi Jinping’s campaign to abolish corruption. Do you understand what that man has done to consolidate his power in China? Haven’t you heard that he is the most brutal, opportunistic, and dominant leader since Mao Zedong? Rohan, you have done a good job in writing about such a sensitive issue. But, please take into consideration the fact that corruption not only exists through money and politics, it majorly constitutes a willfully ignorant population, which is being led by an opportunistic and capitalist media. Give a reason for people to care about corruption; don’t just say “we are the youth. The duty is ours.” The duty is every single person’s. As the Washington Post moto says, “democracy dies in darkness.” For all the communist countries, it’s a little harder since all the power is literally with one party/person. Power corrupts.
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Thank you for writing this comment Dhrub. Although I don’t fully agree with the things you say it has definitely shown me more to the topic. You compare Xi Jinping to Mao Zedong, however, his plan for rooting out corruption has been successful. China is full of corruption, they rank around the same as India, but they have taken the initiative to try and fight it. Because there is a lot of corruption in China, Jinping has a lot of work to do, and while I’m sure that he has done corrupt actions, I would choose for one man to be corrupt over one million. Corruption in any amount should never be justifiable, but you have to start somewhere and Xi Jinping could be that start. If I gave the example of say, New Zealand (one of the least corrupt countries), and how they have been combating corruption it will seem like nothing, as it has become ingrained in the culture to not accept it. However, if people of different nationalities see what China has accomplished, it might inspire them to try fighting against corruption as well. With this article, I can not fix the problem of corruption, however, if I spread awareness, then maybe others can. You may be thinking that how will one article make a difference. But why don’t you harass students studying for a quiz, how will a couple of marks affect your college? Students may not care about this problem, but it will be our generation’s world to live in, and eventually, they will realize that they have to care. A movement doesn’t start with a bang, it starts with all the little things that make that bang. I’m starting with this article, and although it may not accomplish anything, at least I did something rather than complaining about how the population and the younger generation will never care. I would rather try to fight a problem, then just blindly accept what is given to me
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Great answer, Rohan. I completely agree with you that change comes from tiny steps. You can go ahead and write as many articles as you want; it’s great to be a social activist in your own ways. However, the same reasoning you use about choosing “one man to be corrupt over one million” gives to very dangerous implications; Hitler was one man. Stalin was one man. Mao was one man. They all had supporting figures, yet in the end, they had the most authority over their respective states. It’s important to distinguish by what you define to be “one man,” is it somebody who is lower in political rank? Then, your argument holds merit. However, if that “one man” is the person who is at the top, what difference does it make when he himself will exploit the country’s resources? Think Kim Jong Un.
Otherwise, I believe that corruption, especially in developing nations, can mainly be tackled through Security Sector Reform (SSR); this is a tactic used by the United Nations that you might be interested in looking into for future reference.
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“This is terrible as it means India is a society where the value of honesty has depreciated to almost nothing.”
I would like to remind the writer that corruption stems from the fact that there is poverty in the extreme conditions in the country and if someone has to feed their child at the end of the day I don’t think so that our society has lost the value of honesty it’s more of what it has been forced upon us.We as Indians definitely care about honesty but how will the youth actually act upon anything if the youth is enjoying it.Honesty in the Indian system lies in what is important for the particular family and there should hardly be any human being to judge an entire society by one example just as the one you mentioned with the gatekeeper.Think about it would it be fair that I hate all white men because I don’t like your article ?
It’s ironic that how the article mentioned that Vladimir Putin is corrupt and has extended his term but if the writer of the article has been paying attention to news they will regret claiming that Xi-Jinping who is fighting corruption also did the exact same thing.Please read the news more often.
“From the lowly positions of a gatekeeper all the way to prime ministers, people are corrupt. ”
Dear writer I would kindly like to request you that if you could understand that corruption in India is inbuilt and if you want to blame all the citizens for it then I would love to talk to you.
We need solutions more than you bashing our community.
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Hello Rohan. Nice piece. And you talked about China and its corruption just like I did. That’s cool.
I will say though that although Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption initiative is impressive with its effectiveness and efficiency, many critics are quick to point out that Xi is only locking politicians to get rid of political leaders. Anti-corruption is what Xi advertises it as, but ironically, its Xi being the real corrupt one. China is a marvel though.