Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has said that his government would show ‘zero tolerance’ towards any cases of corruption. This message has come as a reassuring statement from the chief executive of the country, which sees many cases of corruption and members of virtually all sectors are being involved in such unwanted illegal financial acts.
The country has several institutions as well as strict laws to punish those involved in corruption, but it seems they are not enough to do away with this vice. Most people agree that corruption has steadily eroded the economy of the nation and the disheartening fact is that government officials are themselves mostly involved in such acts. So fighting corruption in such a situation becomes even more challenging for the authorities. Individuals think nothing about the situation of the nation and the dwindling economy while seeking only personal gains. There are several issues which must be delved into before we expect any results from the efforts of the government and the resolve of the top level leaders to eradicate this problem.
First of all, the standard practice of providing property details by any person who holds any public office, high level politicians and other civil servants must be strictly followed. This is one of the right steps taken in doing away with corruption from the society. Declaring one’s property as soon as a person occupies any important post or just becomes a government employee, will deter many from indulging in corruption in the near future and also making it easier for authorities to take action against those who cannot explain about their source of wealth.
But the second part is more important. The authorities definitely should ask such questions about the source of wealth and investigate into any unexplained amount that a person has whether in office or out of it. In countries with good governance and a better system, an individual can be asked about property or other things they may have bought decades back, and if this cannot be explained, some people can be denied being appointed in powerful government positions. But such a practice is still out of the reach of the authorities here and many individuals get away, even if they have collected wealth illegally and no one actually probes such income. This must be corrected.
Also, there must be punitive action against any person found guilty and the severest punishment should be meted out to big time offenders. This has also not happened in our country and that may be the reason for the rampant incidents of corruption and also in the blatant manner in which officials cheat service seekers. Such corrupt acts just for personal benefits will not only harm the economy but also diminish the faith of the public in the political system. That is why people were happy to hear Prime Minister Deuba calling for a more effective administration at all levels and for the officials to not tolerate corruption or be involved in such activities themselves.
It is a tragic thing for the people of this country that corruption has thrived and the economy has suffered making it hard for many to make daily ends meet. The inflation and the weak state of the nation’s currency are not helping matters and even people with employment have to struggle to provide basic facilities to their families, forget about the expensive health care services and equally high costs for educational services. So it is no surprise that we are seeing an exodus of trained hands and also unskilled people opting to go abroad to seek a better future and better income.
But to come back to the issue of corruption, the biggest setback seems to be the compulsion of the public to accept this vice as a part of life and also accept the individuals who openly flout their ill-gotten wealth. Instead of being condemned, corrupt people are applauded as being successful if they can build big buildings, drive shiny new vehicles and show off their ill-gotten wealth in different ways. Such an attitude of the society should change. But this is easier said than done.
First of all, vested interest only for money should be slowly erased by those in power. It should also be realised that the country and the people are suffering not only due to lack of resources, but also due to the corrupt practices of mostly government workers. It is also true that due to poor planning and any firm policies to uplift the living standards of the ordinary public, the economy is suffering and there is a very slow development growth rate. But again, correcting such things will take time, so even the critics will have to show more patience and give time to the leaders. Those leaders, who will come to power now, will have to make sincere efforts and show a strong resolve in initiating development programmes which will benefit the people and the nation as a whole.
Of course, this is a long journey, but when leaders of the nation seem committed to starting this journey, we must all be positive about it. Naturally, the commitment of the leaders, especially those who are in power, comes first and then the hard work of the civil servants, who truly should work for the service seekers and not exploit the lack of knowledge of these people about the complicated government rules. The public must also virtually boycott those individuals who have earned wealth illegally and not applaud the acts of such people who spend big amounts for their luxury and also in social events like religious ceremonies, for instance. Like already mentioned, this may take a long time to change the attitude of the entire society, but the commitment of the government is definitely a step forward and we must all contribute towards this in whatever way we can.
(Yug Bahadur is a freelancer.)