Onecritical relationship between corruption and democracy is thus that corruptioncan deeply undermine support for democracy in any fragile democracy. Corruptionof an administration in India is very likely to lead to the election of theopposing party. The Indian democracy, however, is an old and stable one wherethe basic institutions are not still questioned. Where democracy is younger andmore fragile, corruption seems a reason to abandon democracy completely in favorof some form of other government that, it is hoped, will be free of that vice.
Thegreat thinkers spread ideas of democracy and freedom with a view toestablishing a global welfare society. But when applied to life by thepoliticians, the great ideas gave rise to corruption obstructing toequalization attempts even by a sincere state. The interconnection betweendemocracy and corruption is well known and it has historical roots when a fewpersons tried, quite successfully, to control and swindle the national economyby raising the slogan of democracy, while the strong nations greedy of overseaswealth invaded countries on fictitious pretexts, including lack of democracy.All possible pretexts for exploitation and invasion continue even to this daywhen more people crave for democracy, seeking, at the same time, more wealththrough any meansDemocracyis also more vulnerable to charges of corruption than other forms of governmentfor two reasons. First, the freedom of speech, press, and political challengethat comes with democracy allows opponents of a corrupt administration to makemuch of its corruption. A military government or the government of atotalitarian communist regime simply does not tolerate this. Second,democracies have the special problem of funding expensive political activities.
If they are not to be funded from tax revenues, they must be funded by privateindividuals who will want something from the candidates they support. Campaigncontributions are rarely disinterested. Candidates know from whom they come andwhy, and candidates remember that they will need them again. Their discharge ofa trust afforded them by all of the people is inevitably affected by theirpersonal interest in raising the funds necessary to be elected. This is a form ofbribery, however reluctant we may be to use that term, and it undermines thesupport of elected governments in a way that has no application to othergovernments.
Finally,there is the question of whether it is harder or easier to attack corruption ina democracy. I think it should be easier. The people of every country hatecorruption and feel cheated by it. The more a government is responsive to itscitizens’ wishes, the more likely the agents of government will feel acounterbalance to the temptations of corruption. Moreover, the existence of afree press provides an important mediator for public opinion. It can discoverand document instances of corruption and reveal them to sizable populations.That can be a powerful deterrent.Corruptionmay take place at a high level or at low levels throughout a system.
It may bewidespread and systematic at whatever level it is operating, or it may besporadic and occasional. Obviously the threat that corruption will createcynicism, suspicion, and eventually citizen distrust not only of anadministration but of the very manner by which administrations are chosen,democratic elections, depends upon which of these areas of corruption ispresent. High-level corruption is far more dangerous to democracy thanlow-level corruption. If the highest levels are honest, citizens are morelikely to seek a change in administration to demand honesty at lower levels.Systemic corruption is far more dangerous to democracy than occasional andsporadic corruption. It may change the entire outlook of a population, leavingthe trustworthy feeling as if they have been foolish and encouraging childrenas well as adults to accept cheating as a way of life.
Everynation is unique in its particular forms of corruption and in the institutions andpowers it has available for dealing with them. Every democratic nation isunique in the support that the fight against corruption enjoys from highgovernment officials and from the public at large. Still, there is a logic tothe problem of a democracy fighting corruption that is general wherever thecorruption may be.
Indiandemocracy can at best be funny because it allows corrupt politicians andbureaucrats to stay on in power by using judiciary. Central government competeswith the states in promoting corruption. No political party is above luster andno body enters politics if that were not to benefit them foremost. Not eventhose in Jammu and Kashmir where people fight for Independence. All parties inIndia have enormous wealth, including movable, running into thousands of croresof rupees and since it is an all-party affair, no one talks about it.
Tounderstand the problem a democracy faces in controlling corruption, it is auseful exercise to imagine trying to create a setting for corruption so perfectthat even a decently honest person would be tempted severely. Quite simply, wewould want a situation with a large bribe, unlikely to be detected, and anatmosphere in which one was thought to be foolish, rather than honorable, indeclining such opportunities. To get the large bribe, we need high stakes forprivate interests and realizing those stakes must turn on a governmentaldecision by a single individual. If the decision is made by the concurrentdecision of a number of people, the rewards will decrease and the risk willgrow. For safety from detection, the decision must either be so discretionary,so lacking in standards, that the purchased choice will not look suspicious, orit must be hidden in the obscurity that characterizes some of the lowest levelof governmental choices.
Ourtask, in fighting corruption, is to eliminate as much as possible. Part of thedifficulty is that they reinforce each other. It may not be possible to changethe mores of an organization or of the government without reducing theopportunities for corrupt advantage. But it is politically difficult to takethe hard steps necessary to reduce the opportunities for corruption so long ascynicism smothers social demands for honesty. The job of the corruption fighteris to deal with both of these conditions simultaneously by making visible thecorruption that will outrage the citizenry in a democracy and, with the supportof that public reaction, bringing cases that show that corruption is not safe. Corruption,thus, can and should be addressed simultaneously in four different areas.
Thefirst two are major ways of attempting to deal with corruption, but each ofthem requires significant changes in what might otherwise be the preferred wayof conducting the business of government. First, market conditions can becreated to reduce the private stakes that turn on the decision of any singleindividual. Second, government operations can be changed to reduce thediscretion exercised by officials. The third approach is to change public andorganizational attitudes towards self-dealing when using governmentauthorities. I am going to focus, however, on a fourth set of alternatives, thedevelopment of management and law enforcement strategies with the object ofmaking corruption apparent despite the desire of the parties to keep it secret.Aset of institutional and political structures of support are necessary to carryout either a law enforcement or a management strategy against corruption.
Making use of law enforcement and management strategies based on analysis ofthe vulnerability to detection of corruption in different settings depends onfour conditions being satisfied: 1.The necessary substantive laws defining illegal conduct and the necessary lawscreating preventive measures, such as a rule requiring sealed bids orforbidding ex parte meetings with judges; 2.The needed management, auditing, and investigative powers to find out if thesubstantive laws are being complied with; 3.The necessary organizational structures to carry out the enforcement of thelaws; and 4.
Sufficient popular political support for attacking corruption to induce electedleaders at a high enough level to tackle it i.e., to carry out the previoussteps: a. Generalpublic outrage over corruption; and b. Threatof media or legislative disclosure of whatever corruption is ignored or coveredup.Thereis a need for law enforcement powers. The powers of law enforcement officersmust be adequate to become aware of likely corruption, to turn suspicion intoevidence, and to rebut the passionate denials of one of two parties to acorrupt exchange. How do investigators become aware of a problem of corruptionin a particular area? In India, they will follow media reports and pursuerumors and suspicions of those who work in an area that, because of traditionor vulnerability to corruption, is likely to be corrupt, and they will invitecomplaints, anonymous or otherwise, by competitors, clients, or fellowemployees.
Investigators will also establish formal auditing procedures toreview records that are required to be kept by particular government officialsor by private individuals who may be paying a bribe. Totransform a reasonable suspicion that there is corruption in a particular areainto a criminal prosecution, investigators need the power to review officialrecords of the actions of suspected officials to detect patterns of favoritism.They need to be able to subpoena private financial records in the hope offinding evidence of improper payments or receipts. It helps greatly ifinvestigators may trade a reduced sentence or immunity from prosecution fortestimony from someone who works in the area of suspected corruption but whohas been caught giving a bribe or in another crime and is anxious to make adeal. In Italy, as in the United States, some investigators have learned thatallowing bribers to declare themselves the victims of extortion will generate agreat deal of evidence of bribe-taking1. Finally, investigatorsmay disguise themselves as corrupt individuals and offer to engage in corrupttransactions.Managersand law enforcement officers need is the power to create offices that aremotivated, skilled, and independent to enforce the rules I have just described.Such structures are needed in at least four places.
There must be effectiveinspection and auditing units within every organization. Some policeinvestigative units must be specialized in public corruption. Prosecutors haveto have sufficient credibility as well as skills in these cases.
Additionally,courts must be available to try cases of corruption within a reasonable periodof time and with adequate accuracy.Strengtheningcitizens demand for anti-corruption and empowering them to hold governmentaccountable is a sustainable approach that helps to build mutual trust betweencitizens and government. For example, community monitoring initiatives have insome cases contributed to the detection of corruption, reduced leakages offunds, and improved the quantity and quality of public services.Withoutaccess to the international financial system, corrupt public officialsthroughout the world would not be able to launder and hide the proceeds oflooted state assets.
Major financial centers urgently need to put in place waysto stop their banks and cooperating offshore financial centers from absorbingillicit flows of money.Thelaws which protect politicians and bureaucrats from prosecution for misuse ofpower should be abolished. An individual citizen should be able to initiatelegal action to prosecute officials for misuse of power, something that existsin several democracies. The Right to Information (RTI) Act is an important stepforward. For example, the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) used the RTIto ask the Income Tax Department for the tax returns of political parties, onthe grounds of public interest, and eventually gained access.
The idea was tocompare the income tax returns filed by parties with the expenditure returns filedby the same parties with the Election Commission. The RTI needs to be logicallyfollowed up and strengthened by laws that enable a citizen to file a civil orcriminal complaint against public servants and politicians, for example,against police officers or tax officers. Strengthening the RTI might bepolitically easier than deregulation of the economy and can make economicdecisions such as public sector contracting more transparent.Therole of the media and NGOs in exposing misuse of power is vital and they mustbe legally protected as well as enabled when carrying out investigativejournalism or exposing the misuse of power. What is needed is public pressure,generated from below by grassroots NGOs and the media, first on localgovernments at the lowest unit or urban ward level, and then, at leastindirectly, on local ruling party units, no matter which party is in power.
This would help expose and deter corruption and would, at least indirectly,help democratize parties, by generating pressures from below which will betransmitted up the hierarchy to party leaderships.1 See, e.g., Selwyn Raab, New York Officials of PlumbingUnion Charged in Bribery, N.Y. TIMES, Oct. 15, 1993, at I (stating that NewYork District Attorney’s office does not indict bribers who are victims ofextorsion); Brunella Giovara & Nino Pietropinto, Torino, interrogatoRomiti; All’uscita dalla procura: 6 andato tutto bene.
I legali: ha fornito lespiegazioni richieste, LA STAMPA, June 16, 1995 (reporting that Fiat employeesaccused of bribery were later treated as victims of extortion).