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Old Wednesday, November 09, 2005
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Arrow Corruption

Corruption

With corruption we come to the most ridiculous phenomenon in the politico-social structure of our society. In simple words, corruption means the betrayal of an office or duty for some consideration or in other words systemic corruption within the public sector can be defined as the systematic use of public office for private benefit that results in a reduction in the quality or availability of public goods and services. This menace alone is responsible for whole bunch of social, political and socio-political diseases as poverty, widening divide between rich and poor, law and order, nullifying efforts to install good governance, speed-breaking the economic activity militates against the public welfare and so forth. The world, at the first place is faced with the problem of defining the term ‘political corruption’ or simply the corruption. First, corruption is simply a catchall for specific abuses--bribery, graft, extortion, nepotism, and ticket fixing. Second, given the decentralization of political institutions, it is also arguable that the history of corruption on the national level would differ appreciably from that on the central, provincial or municipal level, and which of these histories would throw more light on the political system is open to question: a scandal in Islamabad may matter less than chronic payoffs to city police inspectors. Finally the history of corruption is really the history of reform--of those occasions when corruption is alleged, discovered, and attacked. Working with evidence almost always supplied by hostile sources is a daunting challenge to historical objectivity. In broad terms, political corruption is the misuse of public office for private gain. All forms of government are suspected of being corrupt. Degrees of corruption vary greatly, from minor uses of influence and patronage to do and return favors, to institutionalized bribery and beyond. The end-point of political corruption is kleptocracy, literally rule by thieves, where even the external pretence of honesty is abandoned.

Corruption includes Concentration of power in decision makers who are not directly accountable to the people as often seen in non-democratic regimes, lack of government transparency in decision making, costly political campaigns, with expenses exceeding normal sources of political funding, Large amounts of public capital involved in a project, self-interested closed cliques and "old-boy" networks, Weak rule of law, weak legal profession, minimal freedom of speech or freedom of the press, poorly-paid government officials, apathetic, uninterested, or gullible populace that fails to give adequate attention to political processes, absence of adequate controls to prevent bribery.

Corruption is to be seen as a cause as well as an effect of a vicious circle started and perpetuated by the corruption itself. When it comes to live in a society, the poor are the worst hit. They cannot find enough money to bribe and get their rightful works done. This works to throw them deeper into the well of misery. The government officials are found too busy in doing wrongful ‘duties’ to listen to the call of the most crippled and abandoned members of the society. As the poor are not the ones to be listened to, its direct and ultimate unavoidable result is widening of gulf between the rich and the poor. The rich continue to reap the benefits while plundering the hard earned wealth of the poor.

This scenario further aggravates, when the poor – depressed and deprived – look to take the law into their own hands to fulfill their needs and wants. They find snatching whatever they can an end worth dyeing for. The worst effect of this perhaps is psychological. Public looses fear of being caught and of being punished. Thus it becomes, virtually impossible to control the crime. The outlaws wandering about on the streets, coupled with corrupt officials sitting in the offices of law enforcement agencies militate against the establishment of a peaceful society. Law and order being the primary requirement for installing good governance, thus fails. It is exceedingly important to note that good governance is being cited as an indicator for development and provision of financial aid by financial institutions and governments. Thus with corruption causing the law and order situation of aggravate in fact becomes a cause of hindering economic development and progress.

Economic progress is organically related to law and order situation in the society as it is with the efficiency and corruption-less-ness of the government machinery. At the private level, the existence of corruption causes the costs of the production to go up and ultimately makes doing business a costly affair. Corruption increases the cost of business through the price of illicit payments themselves, the management cost of negotiating with officials, and the risk of breached agreements or detection. Loss of property and person due to lawlessness also militates against the establishment and development of private businesses. Where corruption inflates the cost of business, it also distorts the playing field, shielding firms with connections from competition and thereby sustaining inefficient firms. Corruption also generates economic distortions in the public sector by diverting public investment into capital projects where bribes and kickbacks are more plentiful. Officials may increase the technical complexity of public sector projects to conceal such dealings, thus further distorting investment. Corruption also lowers compliance with construction, environmental, or other regulations; reduces the quality of government services and infrastructure; and increases budgetary pressures on government.

As the society finds itself facing multifaceted problems of corruption, law and order, poverty and so forth, the result is that public welfare becomes a rare commodity. Political corruption represents a major detriment to the well being of citizens. Political corruption means that government policies tend to benefit the givers of the bribes, not the general public. Another example is how politicians would draft laws that protect large corporations while hurting small businesses. These "pro-business" politicians are simply returning favors to those large corporations that contributed heavily to their election campaigns.

Political corruption, thus includes abuses by government officials such as embezzlement and nepotism, as well as abuses linking public and private actors such as bribery, extortion, influence peddling, and fraud. Corruption needs two parties to be corrupt: the bribe giver and the bribe taker. In some countries the culture of corruption extends to every aspect of public life, making it more or less impossible to stay in business without giving bribes.

In the political arena, it is difficult to prove corruption, but impossible to prove its absence. For this reason, there are often rumors about many politicians. Politicians are placed in apparently compromising positions because of their need to solicit financial contributions for their campaigns. Often, they then appear to be acting in the interests of those parties that fund them, giving rise to talk of political corruption. Supporters of politicians assert that it is entirely coincidental that many politicians appear to be acting in the interests of those who fund them. Because of the implications of corporations funding politicians, such as the perceived threat that these corporations are simply buying the votes of elected officials, certain countries, ban altogether the corporate funding of political parties. Because of the possible circumvention of this ban with respect to the funding of political campaigns, Pakistan also imposed maximum spending caps on campaigning; candidates that have exceeded those limits, or that have handed misleading accounting reports, risk being declared to have lost the election, or even be prevented from running in future elections. In addition, the government funds political parties according to their successes in elections. Even legal measures such as these have been argued to be a form of corruption, in that they often favor the political status quo.

Corruption occurs as a chain reaction. Representatives and party men collect bribes from people for allotting government or semi government posts and for transfers in various departments. These officials will in turn collect bribes from the public to get their things done. The situation is not beyond imagination if police and judicial officers get their postings through the back-door. The very essence of democracy is defeated when money power rules and the equation becomes: of the deprived, by the bigwigs, for the privileged.

Surely, combating the devil of corruption is an uphill task. A concerted effort at all levels of the society is needed to even marginally reduce it. In this regard only one or two aspects such as anti corruption cells or cases against big fish is not going to be enough. in the fight against corruption in both the public and private sectors. This is important because, as we know, corruption is inimical to development. It constrains our ability to fight poverty, negatively affects economic development, damages social values and undermines democracy and good governance. We will have to put in place laws, policies and programmes to root-out corruption in our society, established partnerships among the social partners and collaborated with regional, continental and international partners. Yet, more will have to be done to fight corruption.

Last edited by Princess Royal; Sunday, June 21, 2009 at 04:11 PM.
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