Sometimes, intellectual corruption is conducted tacitly and cunningly but there are instances where these intellectuals are caught deliberately influencing situations for their vested self-interests. These individuals prove themselves to be highly self-serving and often adopt emotional skills to manipulate relationships. Actions that are unethical, and ill-intended but craftily done to serve selfish needs can be deemed as intellectual corruption.
Parallels can be drawn between intellectual and fiscal corruption as both have links to administrative, policy, and political corruption. Bribery, nepotism, clientelism, sycophancy, fraud, injustice, and blackmail are some of the actions associated with intellectual corruption.
Corruption, both fiscal and intellectual, is committed by a few so-called educated people and has a direct impact on the development of their respective nations. Positions of authority within policymaking are designated to those, who are incompetent. Therefore, such positions are inimical to the welfare of the wider populace.
Rewarding those unsuited to these positions not only means poor policy implications but also leads to dissatisfaction and loss of morale amongst those who deserve those positions based on meritocracy. It squanders national resources, reduces the efficiency of the government, and erodes public and civil society trust. Corruption is a ubiquitous phenomenon within academic institutions around the world.
Teaching professionals within universities consider themselves academic. As academic institutions create high-quality human resources by educating generations of students, their corruption severely undermines the future of any nation.
Growing cases of plagiarism within universities were observed in Russia and are more than likely observable in other nations as well. Even within the USA, the notorious Trump University can be cited as a corrupt institution that took advantage of subsidized student loan programs.
Academics, whose career heavily relies on publications, often are forced into submitting to predatory journals. Counterfeit degrees are handed out by fake institutions which provide hoax credentials for a price which in turn provides fake legitimacy to the recipient. Certain universities within India are completely reliant on fees from government officials and non-attending students for their survival.
Reproduction of ideas, words, and statements of another individual without due permission and full and clear acknowledgment of the author has been common practice. It is highly desirable to find out whether an academic institution strictly adheres to a policy of academic integrity or not. University faculties are proud to state that they belong to the intelligentsia of Nepal.
However, educational institutions, including Tribhuvan University, are highly politicized. The main problem is intellectual dishonesty. Intellectuals within universities, in theory, due to their vast numbers, have the potential and academic legitimacy to challenge the democratic culture and policy practice of the government and leaders.
However, in reality, this is not the case for various reasons. As aforementioned, the politicization of academic institutions, which should remain impartial, means there is a zero-sum game of politics played between partisan academics.
They are afraid or unwilling to speak out against political leaders as it may jeopardize their positions and prospects whilst simultaneously, their sycophancy may be rewarded in the future.
Impartial analysis by these academics, which is expected of any academic institution, would be pivotal in holding the political class accountable and an omission of this practice is an often under-engaged factor that has contributed to poor politics within the country.
Any analysis done without prejudice and favoritism is vital for a strong democratic society. However, it is understood that this politicization is a systematic failure as opposed to a failure of the individual.
Those academics who do conduct analysis in a satisfactory manner often find themselves sidelined whilst those who are linked to political parties’ progress through the ranks based on their party’s electoral status. Therefore, it is vital that these individuals are also supported by civil society at large and impartial analysis be encouraged.
To eliminate academic corruption, efforts on multiple fronts are needed. People of the academic spectrum are expected to follow the norms and ethical standards of impartiality. Misconduct by any individuals should be reported promptly to the concerned authorities, which includes cheating, sabotage, fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism. Leaders of intellectual groups have indulged in plagiarism.
So all those who are categorized as intellectuals such as professionals, teachers, professors, students of higher levels, party leaders, civil society activists, and communication giants are humbly requested to evaluate yourself on your flaws in your thinking and actions. If you feel proud as an academician deserving the wisdom, strength, and talents never think to betray your conscience.
One needs to ask oneself whether or not s/he is intellectually honest, sincere, and loyal to the country and people. To be intellectually honest, immediately leave the habit and nature to be the blind followers of any political party. Never think to tolerate the wrong actions and corruption of leaders.
Be always proactive in punishing wrongdoers. Remove them from public positions immediately, otherwise, it is sure the country and people suffer. The country is in the hands of intellectuals who are the key to advancing or hindering its development.
(Mainali is a former secretary of the Nepal government.)