By Abhilaksh Sharma
There is perhaps no other word in the lexicon, that inspires as much emotion in the average Indian, as the word ‘Corruption’ does. Every one of us knows its definition, and a lot of us have been victims to it at some point of our lives. Saying the word leaves a sour taste in one’s mouth, and discussions on the subject are marked by an overwhelming atmosphere of frustration and helplessness.
Corruption has entrenched itself in every nook and corner of Indian society. It does not discriminate between race, religious belief, or economic status. Like it or not, it affects all of us equally. Everyone complains about it, but not too many people act on their grievances. People have lost belief in their ability to change things, because the system makes them feel powerless. Day after day, one has to see perpetrators walk away unscathed, no matter the degree of their crime. Furthermore, those who set out to do battle with the forces of corruption are quickly subdued, almost crushed underfoot, thus discouraging others to follow their example. There have been countless reports of activists, good samaritans, civil servants, businessmen, or even politicians who had their lives and careers destroyed, simply because they asked the wrong questions.
Fighting the forces of corruption has always been a dangerous task. Be it the press, the mob, or even the government: every sphere of society is infiltrated, and by deciding to join the crusade against corruption, you will ensure that those whose interests you have hurt will hound you with all they’ve got. Moreover, returns are never guaranteed, and it is a thankless endeavor. Thus, understandably, one who chooses to walk this path, also chooses to walk it alone.
The obvious conclusion to be made here is that silent observers to corruption gain good benefits for their compliance, while those who do not bend, are broken instead.
In light of all this, what sane-thinking person would choose to risk his or her neck for a seemingly hopeless cause? What do we have to gain from standing up against corruption? After all, things are not so bad, not for the middle class, anyway. Sure, inflation is higher than ever, thousands of rupees lie in swiss bank accounts, socio-economic inequalities have reached ridiculous proportions…but these are problems we can live with. Problems we can tolerate, problems we have gotten used to. Problems that exist because we allow corruption to exist.
Economically speaking, if we look at the bigger picture, a corruption free society will enjoy a much higher standard of life than one infested by it. Despite this, we are still finding it difficult to break out of the vicious cycle we are stuck in.
The reason we have ended up in this situation is because our nature as human beings tells us to adapt to survive. Some atavistic part of us makes us feel that we cannot change the larger scheme of things, and it is best to just keep our heads down and adjust. But we are human beings, not sheep. Contrary to what we have made ourselves think, individuals can and have done paradigm-shifting, earth-shaking things. M.K Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Mikhail Gorbachev, all made history altering decisions, and they were no different from you and I.
Anyone can be a leader in the crusade against corruption. All it requires is determination, the right mindset, and the ability to see through the smokescreen and at the bigger picture.
However, practicality overcomes us when we set out to change the world. Pragmatism dictates that only one in a million people get to see their dreams become reality, and those who want to see a corruption free world are simply dreamers, because it just isn’t feasible anymore. For once, I’m going to be blunt. Pragmatism is for sheep. As human beings we have a responsibility to be idealists, because we have the potential to achieve anything we set our minds to. An idealist dares to dream of a utopian world, and this reflects in his work. Without idealists, mankind would still be stuck in the dark ages. Those who dedicated their lives to bringing humanity out of the pit of chaos were immortalized, and are still remembered by us in the stories we tell posterity. The world needs dreamers like these people. Be an idealist.
As the India Emerge Youth Summit team, we dare to dream. We know that it is easy to say that this nation is never going to come out of the ruts, that nothing we do will ever change the scheme of things. Despite this, we choose to take the harder path. We have made it our business to understand how policies are made, what makes the gears of corruption turn, and why we, as a nation continue to tolerate incessant deception. This is why we have attempted to create a forum where the youth can interact with people who have seen and dealt with corruption over the course of our lives, so that they can gain the knowledge and motivation they need in their own crusade against corruption.
Anyone can point fingers and complain, because it’s easy, and the norm to do so. John Fitzgerald Kennedy once said: “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.” Eliminating corruption is tremendously difficult, but if mankind never set out to difficult things, we would still be living in the woods. Simply put, the higher the mountain, the better the view.
The crusade against corruption is a cause worth fighting for. A better life and a better society are worth fighting for. So, my fellow countrymen: Realize, Reflect, and Rediscover. You are not alone in your battle.
Economy Decoded is proud to be the Official Social Media Partner of India Emerge Youth Summit 2013.
The India Emerge Youth Summit 2013 is an initiative created and organized by Toastmasters VIT, a Toastmasters International chapter of VIT University.
Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.