The biggest word in Indian politics today is corruption. With the win of Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi, the debate over corruption in India has been rekindled. Politicians are expected to be corrupt because Indian politics attracts a certain type of people who you would expect to be corrupt and greedy, besides being uneducated, illiterate and a lot of times outright criminals. But, have you wondered why so many intelligent educated bureaucrats also give in and become corrupt? Sure, there are a lot of honest civil servants who have been openly fighting the system, but the rest of the system is no doubt plagued by corruption.
Here’s my reasoning about why this is so.
First of all, people who get into civil services have to clear the UPSC exams. That means going through at least 2 to 3 years of voluntary isolation, rigorous studying and cramming of useless facts and a traumatizing interview process. When after all this they don’t clear in the first or second attempt, and when they see people worse than them getting selected while they are pushed aside unceremoniously, they can get a little disillusioned by the whole idea of serving the country through civil services. By the time they qualify and finish the 1 year training, they are ready to serve their personal interests.
Those people who clear the exams and interviews by giving huge sum of money as bribes, have no choice but to take bribes and be corrupt to make back the money they have ‘invested’. They have to make it back plus a good amount of interest. Once they get used to being corrupt there is no turning back.
Another factor is that of peer pressure. Their own batch mates and seniors all around them try to convince them that being corrupt and operating within the system is the best thing to do. Do not underestimate this peer pressure. The peers create this pressure so as to feel good about themselves when their friends too become corrupt. And the friends find it very hard to resist this pressure.
Those who try to resist the political pressure are threatened with transfers to departments that are completely hopeless and to places that are not livable and unsafe. A lot of people then choose to save their career by giving in to the system while others decide to quit and leave the system all together. Those who continue
Let’s not discount personal greed as a motivation. You get selected into civil services and you get married and you start a family and it can be normal to become a little greedy. You hang out with politicians and businessmen and you want your family to have the same amount of luxuries and opulence. Greed can turn even the most intelligent and educated man into a corrupt man.
And finally if nothing else works and they continue to stay honest and continue to fight the system, sooner or later they’ll realize that they can’t beat the system. They’ll watch their batch mates moving ahead in life while they are working in some remote region. And they’ll see that all their stress and hard work is of no use as the system hasn’t changed at all. All this will eventually have them accept defeat and they’ll become a part of the system. If not as someone who is willingly corrupt, then at least as someone who has stopped fighting the corruption.