Entrepreneurs In Corruption Landscape

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A notable politician once said, 'Accepting a commission isn't corruption.' He compared the money he got from service seekers to a waiter's tip. But taking a commission is corruption. Government decision-makers can't see these earnings as acceptable tips because the law prohibits them. Big politicians in government often take chances on money from service seekers, using different excuses. This adds to the corruption in politics. The politician mentioned wasn't innocent. But the story doesn't stop here. Both the receiver and the giver are guilty. They both broke the law for personal gain. What's worse, the receiver misled the service seeker for their benefit. Such cases imply that corruption is a challenge to a fair government. One can add a story to the sequence: a dad asks his son to toss a coin into a roadside well. But the son throws in a one-hundred rupee note intentionally because it belonged to his father!

Both cases merely show that corruption exists regardless of the sum. But then, what is corruption? Should one think of it like a hidden cash sticker? Corruption is when an actor commits a bad act on purpose and abuses power. An example of the well could stand here for people who don't mind getting money in the wrong ways. The Oxford English Dictionary says corruption is when dishonest people misuse their power for money. This happens in different ways and places, not just in one instance. Sometimes government policies take wrong turns instead of being right. For example, a minister might create rules about imports and exports, and the parliament might approve a constituency development fund. But these rules are suspected to benefit individuals more than the nation. Let's consider some specific cases: Why import wood from Malaysia when we have enough decaying wood in our forests? Why charge extra for importing electric vehicles when we have sufficient electricity? Electric vehicles could cost less than petroleum products in the long run. Why extract rocks, sand, and gravel from the Chure Hills without caring about the environment in the name of the balance of payments? Such corruption can fall into any category of crime—organised, intended, or strategic.

Corruption is not a privilege or a way to bend the rules. It is a hidden practice, though, that involves friends and allies. Many fields, such as farming, engineering, medicine, and finance, are affected by it. Even children are aware of it as if it were a school subject. Older people have more experience and information. They can name many powerful and corrupt people, and they can speak their minds freely, thanks to the Constitution. They often express their anger or disappointment, saying things like, "Ugh, these politicians are too much!" or "That’s why our country is lagging!"

 Pervasive Realities

Here's a question: Who is honest and not corrupt? This has multiple correct answers: honest because they’re involved but didn’t take a chance; honest because they’re involved but never had a chance; honest and involved but not daring. The first category defines good and fair people. It also does not mean the government is not ready to combat corruption. The government promises and declares zero tolerance against this with special units like CIB and Abuse of Power Prevention. The media also barks tirelessly against corruption stories. But after this, guess what? New stories of corruption are overshadowing the former. It recirculates, like the Big Bang theory.

Then, how are the corrupt fellows? In truth, they act tough for money but are weak when they consult an astrologer who reads their stars. But he skips to say (because he would not speak free of charge!), "You are making corruption money", and rather says, "You’re a macho, a hero; your stars are strong; you're going to make millions, eh!" and thus certify their wrong potential. A jail term rather enriches their political profile!

In a way, corruption is like a physical map of a country that shows both major and minor places, rivers and rocks, forests and mountains, etc. But you cannot touch the water or the trees or reach those places physically; you can only observe them on the map. Similarly, you can only see the outline of a leader’s corruption and the way politics shaped them in a short span of years. As a result, you see them living in luxury, with high-rise buildings, cars, and expensive drinks—as if the nation wanted them for these things. But they were not always like this. In the past, they lived a humble life, struggling to pay rent for the room they lived in and wearing cheap clothes and shoes.

Observers believe that the nation is plagued by corruption scandals that even clean politicians have failed to prevent. Currently, they have heated up; some heavyweights are in legal traps. However, there are many slips between the cup and the lip, as people often say. Scandals such as gold smuggling at TIA, Nepali citizens posing as Bhutanese refugees to go to the US, and Lalita Niwas's land grab shape the news. The parliament is in uproar between the ruling and opposition parties, frequently stalling procedures. Now, there is an ear-splitting voice: Will these ends in cover-up too, as were the cases of the last 30 years?

Erosion of strength

The conclusion is bleak. A nation’s strength depends on three economic sectors: primary (producing raw materials), secondary (processing raw materials into goods), and tertiary (providing services). How does it cope with these? In the primary sector, it imports food and resources. It is weak in livestock, fruits, mining, and petroleum. In the secondary sector, it has lost industries like cement, sugar, paper, and agriculture. They used to generate jobs and GDP. In the tertiary sector, it falls behind in skills and services. It sends workers abroad instead of making technology in the USA or Japan. The government praises remittances, but the media and public protest. The nation seems to rely on the tertiary sector alone, exporting workers to balance the payments in the economic sector. This is its voice to compensate for the lack of Microsoft chips and advanced AI in the tertiary sector.


(Baral is a retired lecturer of English.)


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