It was a cloudy day, a small family was sailing on a rescue boat, with clear signs of irritation on their faces. Others in sight had a similar situation, but no one knew whom to curse about their situation. It wasn't a tale of an ancient Riverine voyage or something but the sparkling reality of a submerged tech city Bengaluru in 2022 monsoons. High-tech mid-town firms were at the bay, residential areas drowned, and people took the help of JCBs, tractors, or even boats to travel their miles. No one knew whom to hold accountable, the builders who neglected the natural basins of rivers while building unpermitted skyscrapers, the politicians who managed officials for them to have a chunk of cash in their pockets, or the municipal council who neglected city drainage and failed brutally to have planned urbanization under political pressures. While celebrating our golden era of democratic liberty, we cannot neglect it's "infallible symptoms" as per Aristotle, such as corruption.

The Great ancient strategist Chanakya kautilya in his magnum opus "arthashastra" opined

॥मत्स्या यथान्तः सलिले चरन्तो, ज्ञातुं न शक्याः सलिलं पिबन्तः,
युक्तास्तथा कार्यविधौ नियुक्ता, ज्ञातुं न शक्याः धनमाददानाः॥

"Just as it is impossible to know when a fish moving in water is consuming it, so it is impossible to find out when government servant in charge of the undertaking, misappropriate money". Corruption is often defined as the abuse of power by a public official for private gain. But neither limited to public officials, nor to monetary gains. In a modern sense, Corruption accounts for wilful negligence or gross perversion of one's morals which results in the destruction of national ethos & degradation of constitutional principles. Crony capitalism in the name of freedom of trade is corruption, promotion of fake news and provocative oration under the banner of freedom of speech is corruption, use of money & muscle power in Elections for democracy is corruption. Civil servants and Executives of weaker characters taking misusing immunity in office provided by Art 311 of the Indian constitution is corruption.

When a forest grows far & wide, purging fire is inevitable & natural. Every Vibrant Society, at whichsoever stage of its advancement, is never free from instances of deterioration. The great Mughal empire deteriorated under weaker successors of the empire unable to control internal corruption by man Sardar and Jahagirdars. Once a war hero for Britain, Robert Clive faced charges for gathering unaccounted wealth for a lavish lifestyle and committed suicide in 1774. The British government came up with Regulating Act in 1773 to control the accounts & authority of the East India Company. But such acts never prevented subversion of authority at ground levels. Even after the hard-earned Independence, India had a colonial legacy of unchallenged authority which led to the asymmetry of power, hence misutilization of authority and funds continued.

As per research conducted by Transparency International in 2005, more than 62 percent of Indians have paid a bribe to a public official at some time in their lives. Another report from 2008 found that about half of Indians had first-hand experience paying bribes or using contacts to get services from government agencies.

former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi during his visit to Kalahandi, Odisha in 1985 said "Out of one rupee spent by the government for the welfare of the downtrodden, only 15 paise thereof actually reaches those persons for whom it is meant"

But thankfully India moved away from that and the situation got somewhat better due to the Direct benefits transfer scheme introduced in 2014. There is no denying the fact that there is widespread corruption in India. Petty corruption which affects the basic rights and services of the common man is highly rampant but arguably, the grand corruption scandals are falling prey to vigilance. India is ranked 85th among 180 countries in Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), 2021. We still have a long rally ahead.

Prime Minister gave a clarion call to Resist corruption in our "amrut kal" of the upcoming 25 years, from the ramparts of the Red Fort. Just having aspirations will not bring change, but each citizen will have to abide by a duty for justifying our aspirations. We will have to find solutions for slaying the demon of corruption.

First and foremost them is vigilance and Proactive decentralization. Corruption is less frequent in a society where people are educated. When people are uneducated, they count on unequal and unscrupulous methods to make a living. The use of technology like CCTV become our empowering weapon in the fight against corruption

Secondly, we will have to invest our faiths in Internal accounting audits mechanism. CAG has played this role much vibrantly in recent years for state institutions. There shall be no neglect of Transparency & accountability. years passed after the Lokpal came into being, and the Centre is yet to appoint a director of inquiry. If the recommendations of Lokpal/ Lokayukta are not acted upon by the executive then difficult to ensure combat against corruption. if such an attitude continues then the office of Lokpal/ Lokayukta will become a paper tiger/white elephant.

Thirdly, government will have to ensure respectable remunerations to all to divert them from financial delinquency. The punitive measures under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 shall be effectively enforced. We will have to name & shame both bribe givers & bribe takers. May it be administration or politics, there is no place for Client - patron syndrome in Citizen centric governance

Lastly what we all need is behavioural awareness. we all have been indoctrinated with the virtues of honesty since childhood, but we have chosen vices of greed as time proceeded. We will have to revisit our own morals. Corruption has taken decades to grow into the monster that it is now. It can’t be killed in a day. But we surely shall slay it one day.

Lastly, I just wanted to recall the talisman of Mahatma Gandhi, which will guide us on the path toward development, 

"Whenever in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test. Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use or harm to him. Will he gain anything by it? Will it restore him to a control over his own life and destiny? Then you will find your doubts and your self melt away."

.    .    .