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A Termite to an Indian Economy: Corruption


Corruption is not a contemporary or concealed phenomenon in India. It has been prevalent in Indian society for a long time. It was evident even during the Mauryan period, according to history. In his current civilization, great scholar Kautilya emphasizes the pressure of forty sorts of corruption. It existed even throughout the Mughal period. When the East India Company took control of the country, corruption reached new heights.[1] Corruption in India has become so prevalent that people now are antagonistic to thinking of public life with it.

Corruption has been defined differently by many eminent scholars. In simple language it means that corruption implies falsification of morality, character, or duty out of mercenary motives, i.e., bribery, without any regard to honor, right and justice. Or, we can say that undue favor for any one of some monetary or other gains is corruption. Simultaneously, depriving the genuinely deserving from their right is also a corruption. Deflating from one’s duty or non-conductance of duty are also forms of corruption. Thefts and waste of public property are also exampling of corruption. Dishonesty, malpractices, exploitation in any form, scams and scandals are various kinds of corruption.

Corruption is not uniquely an Indian phenomenon. It can be seen in both poor and developed countries all over the world. Its influence has spread to every aspect of life, including business, politics, and services. In fact, there is hardly any sector left which can be characterized for not being infected with the virus of corruption. Corruption is rampant in each section of society, irrespective of the social status attached to it. Nobody can be considered free from corruption. In this assignment corruption has been defined and the causes and consequences of corruption in Indian society have been mentioned.

What does the term ‘Corruption’ mean?

Corruption is a long-standing problem that can now be found almost anywhere. It is like a cancer in public life, which has not become unbridled overnight, but is the course of time. Corruption is defined as the devastation, ruination, or spoilage of a community or nation. According to Oxford Dictionary – “perversion of destruction of integrity in discharge of public duties by bribery or favor is called corruption. [2]” The Webster's Dictionary defines corruption as “inducement to wrong by improper or unlawful means as bribery.[3]” The most generally used yet simplest definition of corruption, according to the World Bank, is "abuse of public power for private gain."


Professor (emeritus) Dr. Petrus van Duyne produced a more difficult, scientific definition for the idea of Corruption is the decay in the decision-making process in which the person who consents to change deviation from the process which should rule the process of his decision making and that too in exchange for a prize or the promise while these motives influencing his or her decision-making cannot be part of the justification of the decision.[4]

Major corruption comes close when events involving lumps of money or huge quantities of products (food and pharmaceuticals) often in problematic situations are at stake. Corruption mostly flourishes in situations involving high technology, or in situations that are chaotic, for example: Natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, droughts. The global community reacts quickly but the local government might be disorganized and disoriented. [5] The sum of money involved is mostly huge.

Corruption is likely to cause inefficiency when assets are used inefficiently. To limit reputational harm and rebuild trust, a complete public relations campaign is frequently required. [6] This necessitates the use of precious resources such as time and money, which may deprive other key parts of the organization of resources, resulting in inefficiencies and possibly financial losses.

Corruption in relevance with India

Corruption is widespread in India. India has been ranked 86th out of 176 countries in Transparency International's 2020 corruption perception index (CPI) [7]. Corruption has taken the role of an omnipresent aspect of Indian Politics and Bureaucracy. The economy of India was socialist. Inspired policies for an entire generation from the 1950s until the 1980s. The economy was shackled by extensive regulation protectionism and public ownership, leading to corruption and slow growth. Since 1991, economic liberalization in India has reduced bureaucracy, supported the transition towards a market economy and transformed the economy with high growth rate. However, although the Indian economy has become the 4th largest in the world, the growth has been uneven across social and economic groups and poverty is still an issue. Endemic corruption is a major factor for most social and political problems. It is a serious threat not just to the sustainable economic growth, but also to the socio-political aspect of the country. In Indian civilization, corruption has caused maximum suffering to mankind. In ancient Indian history the great Indian philosopher Kautilya says “just as it is not possible, not to taste honey or poison put on the surface of the tongue, so it is not possible for the government servant dealing with money not to taste it in however small a quantity.”[8] On the difficulties of corruption detection Kautilya says “just as a fish moving under water cannot possibly be found out either as drinking or not drinking water, so government servants employed in the government works cannot be found out taking money.”

In recent years major scandals involving high level public officials have shaken the Indian public services. This scandal suggests corruption has become an endemic aspect of Indian political and bureaucratic system.

Some of them major scams are –

1. Coal Scam (Cost – 186000 Crores)

2. 2 G Spectrum Scam (Cost – 176000 Crores)

3. Commonwealth Games (CWG) Scam (Cost – 70000 Crores)

4. Mega black money laundering Scam (Cost – 70000 Crores)

5. Adarsh Housing Scam (Cost – 18978 Crores)

6. Stamp Paper Scam (Cost – 20000 Crores)

7. Bofors Scam (Cost – 400 million) 8 Fodder Scam (Cost – 950 Crores)

9. Hawala Scam (Cost – 8000 Crores)

10. Satyam Scam (Cost – 14000 Crores)

11. Stock Market Scam (Cost – 3500 Crores)

12. Madhu Koda Scam (Cost – 4000 Crores)

Character of Corruption

Under the Indian constitution, the government consists of three branches namely: the legislative, the executive and the judiciary with clear decree for independent functioning of each branch. For good governance it is necessary and compulsory that each of the unit’s function with integrity and efficiency. The legislators are elected representatives of the peoples and are responsible for making laws. The executive branch consists of ministers, bureaucrats, and whole government machinery, which is responsible for the implementation of laws made up by legislative assemblies. The judiciary acts as an impartial check to see if the people are governed as per the given law. It lacks the power to frame any law, it can only interpret the laws passed by the lawmakers of the country under the constitutional framework and give its verdicts and decisions. But when corruption spreads its wings, governance begins to degrade implying loss of integrity as well as efficiency. Nowadays corruption is widespread in every segment of Indian government system and Indian politics.

Major Factors Responsible for Corruption

1. The most important factor is the nature of humans. People have a greed for luxuries and comforts and due to which they get themselves involved in unethical activities that result in monetary or material benefits.

2. Moral and spiritual values are not given utmost importance in the educational system, which is highly responsible for the degradation of the society due to loss of morality.

3. The salary paid to employees is very less and therefore they are forced to earn more by illegal ways.

4. Tolerance of people towards corruption and their lack of intense public howl against it and the absence of a strong public forum to oppose this corruption allow it to rule the people.

5. Mammoth size of population coupled with widespread illiteracy and the poor economic infrastructure leads to corruption in public.

6. Corruption is increased because of the change in the value system and ethical qualities of people. The old ideals of morality and honesty are regarded as anachronistic.

7. In a highly inflationary economy, low salaries of government officials compel them to resort to corruption. Graduates from Indian institutes of management with no experience draw a far handsome salary than what government secretaries draw.

8. Complex laws and procedures avert people from seeking help from the government.

Outcomes of Corruption

Corruption is as much a moral issue as a development issue. It can distort entire decision-making processes and the very social and political areas of societies. Corruption is a cancer in India's society. It is wreaking havoc on India's economy, democracy, and political system. Corruption diminishes government revenue while increasing government expenses. As a result, it adds to higher budget deficits, making it more difficult for the government to implement prudent fiscal policy. Corruption is likely to increase income inequality because it allows well persons in a high position to take advantage of government activity at the cost of others. Corruption undermines markets and resource allocation by limiting the government's capacity to enact required regulatory restrictions and inspections to fix market failures. It acts as an arbitrary tax, reducing the government's essential role, the market economy's credibility, and increasing poverty.

Politically, corruption increases injustice and disregard for rule and law. Basic human rights and freedom comes under threat as the key judicial decisions are based on bribes given to the court officials rather than on the innocent. Rather than being founded on sound legal grounds, police investigations and arrests may be motivated by political victimization or personal vendettas. The Supreme Court of India observed that corruption in a civilized society was a disease like cancer. If not detected in time it was sure to turn the polity malignant leading to “disastrous consequences.” [9]

Measures to Control Corruption

There are some specific measures to control increasing corruption.[10]

1. The Right to Information Act (RTI) gives people all the required information about the Government. Under this, people got the right to ask the Government on any problem which they face. There is a Public Information Officer appointed in each department responsible for collecting information wanted by the people and providing them with the relevant information.

2. Another check on corruption can be through the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC). It was set up by the Government to advise as well as guide Central Government agencies in the areas of vigilance. If there are cases of corruption or complaints, then it can be reported to the CVC who is also responsible for creating awareness among people regarding consequences of giving and taking bribes.

3. Establishment of special courts for speedy justice. Time should not elapse between the registration of a case and the judgment.

4. Strong and stringent laws need to be enacted which gives no room for the guilty to escape.

5. In many cases, the employees opt for corrupt means out of compulsion. Some people believe that the earnings received are insufficient. They would not accept bribes if they were paid more.


There is a much better grasp today of the extent to which corruption is a symptom of fundamental institutional weaknesses in Indian society. Instead of tackling this symptom with narrow intervention designed to “eliminate” it, it is increasingly understood that the approach ought to address a broad set of fundamental institutional determinants. However, the challenge of integrating this understanding with participatory process has not begun yet. The implementation of institutional reforms can benefit the participatory process that is being developed for anti-corruption activities.

Equally important, any participatory process ought to lead to concrete results beyond enhanced participation and heightened awareness. Thus, identifying key institutional reforms in India, and mobilizing support for such reforms, needs to be fully integrated into the participatory process from exceedingly early on. A better balance between preventative and enforcement efforts in the fight against corruption is anticipated to result from such early convergence. The pendulum had been solidly in the “enforcement” corner until lately. The steady shift to the middle ground has occurred because of understanding of the limitations of exposing legalistic enforcement techniques, given that the legal institutions are currently contributing to India's corruption problem. As a result, corruption in India is an unsolvable condition, similar to diabetes, which can only be managed but not cured. It may not be possible to totally eradicate corruption at all levels, but it is possible to keep it within acceptable bounds. Honest and dedicated persons in public life, control over electoral expenses, could be some of the important prescriptions to combat corruption.


  1. Karuna Madan “An age of dirty money and dirtier politicians”- World Asia (06, April 2012)

  2. Meaning of corruption, lexica, (Last visited on 05/06/2021)

  3. Marriam Webster, Definition of Corruption, (Last visited on 05/06/2021)

  4. Jeevan Singh Rajak, “Corruption in India: Nature, Causes, Consequences and Cure”, IOSR Journal of Humanities and Social Science (IOSR-JHSS) Volume 18, Issue 5 (Nov. - Dec. 2013).

  5. What is corruption, (last visited 05/06/2021).

  6. What is corruption, (last visited 05/06/2021).

  7. Corruption perception Index, Transparency International, (Last visited on 05/06/2021)

  8. Challenges of Corruption, Andhra Pradesh PCS exam notes (Last visited on 06/06/2021)

  9. Ibid

  10. IOSR Journal of Humanities and Social Science (IOSR-JHSS) Volume 18, Issue 5 (Nov. - Dec. 2013), PP 20-24 e-ISSN: 2279-0837, p-ISSN: 2279-0845


BALLB(H)-2nd Sem


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