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11th May '2008
Genesis of Corruption
(Only an unreasonable man can end it!)

There was a time when word “corruption” would give a scary feeling. In fact, calling somebody corrupt was probably the worst abuse. Not now! It has become a word of daily usage to which all of us seem to have become insensitive. It is the most frequently used single word these days in every forum and talking about it has become a cliché. Corruption has spread like cancer in the entire society. No part of our daily life is free of this most terrible malaise. People are feeling suffocated and helpless before this scourge which has eaten into the vitals of our society. Kashmir has been rated by Transparency International as the second most corrupt state in India. Corruption is not confined to material areas only but has affected both the political values and the overall morality of the society. We are faced with material, moral and political corruption. Why has Kashmir become such a corrupt place? There is one main factor and that is the readiness of Kashmiris to compromise. Once a person strays from the truth and is prepared to say that 2 and 2 make 5, corruption starts. The origin of this compromise goes back centuries in our history. However, it has seen real culmination in last half century or so. It has been often observed by a number of historians that the timidity and deceitfulness of a Kashmiri is due to his unending suppression by outsiders. He has never had a chance to grow in a totally free and healthy atmosphere. It is natural for a human being to develop an instinct of survival when he is faced with the forces bent upon annihilating him. For survival a person goes to any extent. For him morality, truthfulness, honesty, self-respect, and dignity lose all meaning. He has somehow to survive against all odds. Sir Walter Lawrence in “Valley of Kashmir” also talks about this misfortune of Kashmiris. According to him Kashmiris are not as bad as are portrayed by outsiders. The main cause for their pitiable situation is the centuries of slavery. A couple of generations living in a free atmosphere will bring the best out of a Kashmiri. But they never got that chance and the slavery has continued in one or the other form. Compromise has become part of our daily life. This has been taught to us by our leaders. The first compromise took place in 1939 when movement by the Kashmiri Muslims was compromised. It is well known that it were the Kashmiri Muslims who had been the sufferers under the autocratic rule of Dogras. Their leaders for reasons best known to them widened the movement to cover the entire Kashmir society on a secular basis with disastrous results for the Muslim community. The move had apparently been good as it had given a truly nationalist colour to Kashmir’s Freedom Movement but the hidden agenda of some misled the Kashmir leadership. The second compromise took place in 1947. Majority of Muslims were in favour of joining Pakistan because of emotional ties. There was a popular saying those days that one would be prepared to sacrifice one’s body and soul for India but the heart was still with Pakistan. Kashmir’s tallest leader instead of truly guiding people and against popular feelings chose the other path again with disastrous results. People had blind faith in the sincerity of the leader and followed him in spite of his political somersaults. Had he been truly nationalist and taken the third option right from the start, the things would have been different. He did realise his mistake after sometime but then it was too late. People would have forgiven him but his own lieutenant Bakshi stabbed him in the back. He opened the flood gates to corruption. A systematic campaign for character assassination was unleashed on Kashmiris. Money and muscle power were freely used to buy temporary loyalty of the masses. Spiritual and intellectual pursuits were replaced by material gains. Betrayal was rewarded and loyalty to principles was punished. Orwellian new speak was introduced and truth was banished. People were “disciplined” through the newly constituted “Peace Brigade”. It was Goebbels in action. A masterly use of carrot and stick! The 11 year long concerted campaign at destroying Kashmiri character was so successful that even the leaders with conviction incarcerated in different jails started doubting their own beliefs. Corruption was so much ingrained into the psyche of Kashmir that it was taken to be a normal way of life. This is usual in all occupied lands. The occupiers to continue their hold have to set up a local system of administration. Because of the basic conflict, upright and honest people do not side with the outsiders. It is always people with weakness of character that are moulded to serve the external masters. The downslide into the pit of corruption which started from the time of Bakshi has reached the lowest possible limits. There does not appear any chance of coming out of the pit! Repeated declarations, slogans, and promises by top politicians to remove the scourge of corruption sound hollow in the face of actual ground situation. Right from the traffic constable on the road side up to the top political bosses, the whole system is seeped in corruption. Bribes are not only gladly taken but also given without any hesitation or remorse. It has become a well established routine for getting anything done in every government establishment or organisation. In some departments, the corruption has been institutionalised and it is taken to be part of the normal procedure. No one feels anything bad about it. Rather it is taken to be rightful cut of all concerned. The typical example is of engineering departments. The percentage cut from each contract right from the level of a junior engineer to chief engineer is fixed. There is no dispute about it. However, in certain cases the corruption exceeds beyond this basic ingrained cut. This involves variations in the quantity and the quality of materials used. Extension and expansion of the original contracts and in some cases drawl of bills for non-existent works mutually shared by all. Paying of huge bribes through intermediaries for posting, transfer, and appointments at the administrative level as well as the ministerial level has been thoroughly debated during the last assembly session which witnessed the sacking of a senior minister. Apart from material corruption, there is exponentially growing moral corruption involving all sections of the society. Every second day one witnesses skeletons falling out of the moral cupboard. The second rank in corruption given to the state by the transparency international must be now higher than even the first rank? Can this corruption which has eaten into the vitals of Kashmir society be ever eradicated? The blood will have to be drained out and purified by a dialysis machine. Even then it can only be prevented from recurring if the top is clean. Honesty like water flows from top downwards. Unless we have the top honest and clean and that too with a political will, nothing will succeed. Moreover, as highlighted above, the top has to be uncompromising. An honest top rung will not tolerate a corrupt bottom. If one claims to be honest but expresses helplessness because of the people around or under him and still carries on, that constitutes the first compromise. It is said that a reasonable man adopts himself to the ways of the world. However, an unreasonable man tries to adopt the world to his way of thinking. Therefore, all the progress in the world depends upon the unreasonable man! In the present context an uncompromising, honest, and upright leader with courage of conviction and a political will to stand by the truth is an unreasonable man. To refuse compromise involves sacrifice and suffering. Is anyone prepared for that? This is precisely what Kashmir has been waiting for. Will we ever get such a leader? God alone knows! Till the time that happens, the corruption is not going to go away. It will rather go on multiplying and eating into the vitals of our society.

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