Mount Pay More
Whenever I read about the history of world’s leading nation-builders, I tend to think that we have not done enough to perpetuate their glorious memories in the true spirit that it deserves. We have put up statues and memorials to commemorate them. But have we honestly followed their ideals?
It has become a global culture to erect statues and monuments to honour great leaders. There are aberrations to this trend when autocrats choose as their first official duty to honour themselves by putting up their larger-than-life images at public places.
We name streets, parks or public buildings after illustrious people. We see such memorials to Mahatma Gandhi, Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King, Jr.et al in historical places that are connected with them.
One of the better-known monuments is Mount Rushmore in the US, where the faces of four American Presidents – George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln – are carved into massive granite sculpture roughly 18-metre high.
Watching the massive artistic efforts that were completed in the 1927–1941 period, I thought to myself that it is time similar-type sculptures should now be put up as “Mount Pay More” in many parts of the world – memorials in each country for its most corrupt leaders and their misdeeds. Corruption has become endemic.
I believe that corruption actually starts right from home. A busy executive, who has no time for family, gives bribe to his wife so that she gives him peace of mind to run his business. Often, the demand becomes too huge: diamonds, gold jewellery and what not. Well, it is still really worth paying such bribe! Even children are paid bribes to keep their mouths shut. It is an accepted way of life.
When you step out of home, we see traffic violations get ignored through on the spot settlement by prompt payment. Who has the time and patience to go to the court? At the end of the day, it suites everyone and there are no complaints from anywhere. These are petty ones, not worth to talk about!
In the government, corruption is rampant so much so that it has become an accepted practice. A contractor divides his total contracted value into three portions: 1/3 to execute the work, 1/3 his profit and 1/3 for bribery. All are happy at the end.
On huge deals, the percentages vary and the amount runs into millions. No one is convicted at the end of litigations where well-paid lawyers stretch the case hearings beyond the grave. Bribery is no more a bad word. Of course discretion is the better part of valour. Just ensure that you are not caught openly. Greasing the palm needs to be done secretly.
World Bank estimates that worldwide annual losses due to corruption amount to between US$1 to 4 trillion or 12 per cent of the world’s GDP. It’s not limited to a handful of corrupt African, Asian or Latin American dictators or politicians. In many countries, it pervades across every level of bureaucracy both in the private and public sector. Global corruption watchdog Transparency International says 68 per cent of countries worldwide are said to have “serious corruption problems.”
In some countries corruption is so widespread that their citizens could be categorised into two groups – those who take bribes, and those who wish they were in a position to get bribes!
Countries with the lowest corruption rates have certain key characteristics such as high levels of press freedom, publicly-available data, transparent banking protocols and independent judiciary. Lack of these attributes leads to high corruption.
Many countries have anti-corruption investigation bureaus, but often it is found that these enforcers themselves are corrupt.
Much of the corruption money siphoned out of developing countries each year—more than $1 trillion according to some estimates—ends up in banks overseas or is used for real estate and luxury goods. This transfer relies on bankers, lawyers, accountants and other facilitators who unknowingly, or otherwise, help the corrupt to launder their money.
It is said that in countries that have a culture of ‘collectivism’ that places shared identity and responsibility over the individual as opposed to ‘individualism,’ bribery is accepted as a norm. Research shows that “collectivism promotes bribery through lower perceived responsibility for one’s actions.”
It is also found that countries that have a culture of higher tipping behaviour tend to have higher rates of corruption. Both may be different in a contextual frame, but the expectation of a quid-pro-quo for good service rendered seems to be the same.
There is also a rising trend among people that ‘the end justifies the means.’ There are people who clinically justify bribe based on a cost-benefit analysis of a particular situation. Morality and ethics take a back seat in their calculations.
Mathematicians using complex empirical analysis of game theory have analysed the benefits of bribes versus the risk of being caught. It is theorised that bribery will only stop when the risk outweighs the potential reward.
I believe “Mount Pay More” should be sculpted to name and shame corrupt people. Those who care for a clean society and government should come forward and damn these people. We need to stamp out the cancer of corruption.