Corruption is the most common issue faced by the maximum number of countries in the world. Corruption is an attack on the public's faith, and it hampers the morale and confidence of society. About 80% of the countries in the world are facing severe corruption. The situation of corruption is worst in Asian countries, whereas European countries, primarily Baltic nations, have done significantly well in controlling corruption.
What is corruption?
Corruption is an ethical dereliction to misuse public property or money for self-interest. It is betraying the people, and the root of this is the misuse of even the nominal power assigned to them.
Corruption is something only related to public funds or government. It is cheating and playing with other persons' faith. Every country and every company, whether Public or private, has faced some corruption. But it becomes serious when common public interests are at stake. Corruption deteriorates the mind and thought process of the people of the country.
Corruption had been the enemy of the development of any nation. It gives rise to inequality, injustice, illegality, and inconsistency at all levels of the administration. Commonly, corruption is considered bribery, but it is something beyond just bribery. It involves not performing one's duties and not being accountable for that, and it also consists of favouring one's close ones for something which is for all. All these come under some cheating to the public for personal benefit, and the consideration for such favour could be money, gifts, or any other thing.
The corruption at government and administrative levels is alarming, where leaders and officers have done unethical practices to earn money directly or indirectly to fulfil their luxurious needs.
Causes of Corruption
The corruption in the system is the culmination of various factors. It can be commonly observed that low-income countries or nations with unstable governments are the most corrupt in the list of most corrupt nations. So, we can say that availability of more money is not the reason, but its administration is the problem.
The causes of corruption have been categorised under various heads:
1) Political Factors
The first thing which everyone relates to is corruption in politics. Politicians are the ones who are mainly considered corrupt, and every politician throughout their life tries to defend against being corrupt. Elections are held yearly, and every political party spends money on elections. Now, elections are not a matter of just appealing to get the vote, but it has become a means to convert black money into white by spending that money on elections.
Politicians spend a lot of money on campaigns, rallies and conveyance from one city to another, and all these payments are sourced from illegitimate money. Every politician needs to procure such a high amount, which leads their way toward corruption.
The high amount of money used in politics comes directly from the capitalist of the country, who give them money in exchange for some favour from the political parties. This creates the route for channelising black money from the prominent capitalist in politics.
Capitalists are those who don't have any political rivalry with anyone; they support everyone who can provide better support for their expansion. It is like an investment for them to grow their business. Politicians fulfil the demands of capitalists in exchange for the funds, and thus the motive of both of them is served.
2) Economic Cause
In almost every country, there is a gap between the number of rich people and middle and poor people, and this economic gap is also one of the root causes of corruption. Low-income people are forced to pay a bribe to get their work done. Ironically, those who do not have much money have to pay more for basic things. This is the most drastic situation because poor and middle-class people face corruption daily and in the most open manner at this level. Low-income people pay the bribe at every point, from government hospitals to government offices.
Corruption at lower levels starts from low wages and insufficient funds to survive during high inflationary periods. Although corruption is not the solution to this situation, low wages lead a person to find other income options, where the easiest way is to take a bribe or earn money from illegal sources.
Bureaucracy in any country is held responsible for corruption after political leaders. Bureaucrats use their powers illegitimately to fulfil their illegal demands. They are accused of asking for bribes to pass various proposals.
The bureaucrats who are honest and try to change this corruption situation are witch-hunted, face fake accusations, etc. There are various examples of genuine bureaucrats, but the system didn't respect and support them.
The Judiciary of any nation is very important to stop corruption. The public is hopeful that if no one hears them, the Judiciary will support them. But the situation gets worse when this also gets involved in corruption, and people are left with no hope.
There are a lot of cases in the world where the Judiciary has been involved in corruption and has given judgements in favour of corrupt people. There are various judgements by judges being influenced by some other party, who has altered the independence of the Judiciary with the power of money.
Even if the judicial system restrains itself from bribes and illegal money, it becomes part of corruption by not giving strict and timely justice in the cases of corruption. Due to inefficiency, the judicial system has failed to establish the fear of law among corrupt people.
4) Social Causes
Corruption has increased in those countries rapidly; whose literacy level is low. Corrupt people take advantage of the lack of knowledge and awareness of illiterate citizens of the country. Maximum cases of bribery are seen in areas with less education, like villages, because they don't ask questions to officials due to insecurity and get easily fooled by them. They are the soft target of corrupt people.
The corruption starts from the greed to get a high income to fulfil the unnecessary luxurious wants of an individual. This is the main reason people move towards bribery, even if they have enough to lead a good life. It is an ethical aspect of corruption.
Most Corrupt Countries
Corruption is subjective, meaning it exists in almost every country, but the extent or degree varies from country to country.
The most renowned and trusted index which ranks nations worldwide based on the degree of corruption in the public sector is Corruption Perception Index, released by the private body Transparency International every year since 1995.
The latest report, Corruption Perception Index 2021, was released in January 2022. It ranked 180 countries based on scores between 1 (highly corrupt) and 100 (no corruption). The scores are given to the countries for the level of corruption, cronyism, electoral frauds, Kleptocracy, Influence peddling, nepotism, slush fund present in the country, and the government's efforts in curbing corruption.
Denmark, New Zealand, Finland, Singapore, and Sweden were the top 5 least corrupt countries, respectively. In contrast, Syria, Somalia, and South Sudan were the top three countries with high corruption levels.