I wrote this essay for the Pratiyogita Darpan Essay Competition, November 2012.
Every democracy of the world stands on the pillars of the concept of democracy. India is no different. The pillars of the Indian Democracy are its judiciary, legislature, executive and the media. Democratic environment cannot be expected or displayed by the citizens of India until they wholly trust these pillars. It is hence increasingly important for these pillars to be transparent, just and most importantly, trustworthy.
A sudden spate of newspaper reports, CAG audits and RTI replies have revealed massive corruption amongst the public servants of India. Apart from blemishing India’s reputation internationally, this revelation has led to superlative anger internally, especially in the mind of the common man of India. He is hurt and appalled because the pride he carried along his shoulders of living in a democratic India has been severely injured. Such is his anger that he finds himself leaving his job and work to go to the streets and participate in nationwide protests and rallies against the Government. How terrible is this situation! When citizens of a democracy try to take on the Government of a nation, it results in nothing else except chaos, because in such cases, all the pillars of democracy are severely affected: The judiciary finds itself scrutinizing its own judges and advocates or solving corruption cases; the legislature cannot sit in the houses of democracy and debate on new issues as it finds itself embroiled in image-tainting charges; the executive is unable to focus on the nation as it is immersed in protecting the image of its party for the next elections; the media sources forget issues of larger importance like murders, robberies and female assaults and report only about the newly found (though not proved) charges against any minister. No common sense or logic of the world can hence stop the common man from getting frustrated and coming out to the streets. Public harassment may endanger his morals, but corruption invariably endangers the morals of the nation he dwells in.
Today’s India finds itself in such an unpleasant state of corruption that the rights of its people are being bartered for promises of office. Corruption is not a sudden phenomenon in India; it traces its origin back to the days of post-Independence, though it was not much of a problem then as the nation was facing much tougher difficulties. But while the nation progressed in terms of technology, infrastructure and education, it also progressed in terms of unemployment, overpopulation and corruption. It is painful to note that the first ever scandal of India (Jeep Purchase Scandal of 1948) cost us Rs. 80 Lakh, while the latest scandal (Coal mining 2012) cost us Rs. 200,000 crore. Quite certainly, no Indian wants to progress this way. During the 70s and 80s, the citizens of India may have entered a period of complacency and closed their eyes to the public misuse of democracy, but that is acceptable no more. Today citizens are much more aware of the ruined state of India because of corruption and they wouldn’t let it exist any longer without a full-fledged uprising.
It is understandable that in any democracy, some amount of corruption is obvious and unavoidable. But India’s corruption has stooped to alarmingly low levels. Indian ‘babus’ have lost all morality and conscience in their dealings. Today the stench of corruption in India is widely spread right from getting into schools or colleges to getting jobs, promotions or even passports. An already financially burdened common Indian cannot bear such extra costs and usually finds himself bumping from one Government premise to another, eventually ending his life due to suicide or over-intake of alcohol. He has nowhere to go, because the public ‘servants’ of India are too busy to take their minds off their own comforts and profits.
As individuals, we keep wondering what we can do to make India a cleaner place. This is where Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam informs us, “If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother and the teacher.” If we want tomorrow’s India to be free of dark patches, we of course need to mold tomorrow’s Indians and this is where the key role of elders, as mentioned by Dr. Kalam, comes in. Right from primary and nursery classrooms to colleges and household talks, the youth of today needs to be well-informed about the destruction that corruption can cause. Selflessness needs to be engraved in every Indian child’s mind so that tomorrow he works for the greater good and not for increasing his bank balances. Moreover, intelligent and intellectual children need to be taught that it is public servants and not engineers or doctors who have the ability to change the world, so that they choose to become politicians and bureaucrats and take the nation to greater heights when they grow up. The media, being one of the pillars of democracy, needs to understand that they have the responsibility to keep the masses positively informed even in the worst situations. Their opinions must be separated from their reports so that people can easily demarcate the line between the fact and the journalist’s viewpoint on the fact.
A healthy India will not be a product of merely its motivated people, or honest public servants, or just judicial system, it will be a product of an amalgamation of all of these. Corruption or disturbance in the functioning of any of the above will ruin the nation to immeasurable extents. “United we stand, divided we fall.”