According to a perception survey conducted by Nagarik Research Bureau (NRB) under Nagarik national daily in 32 districts of the country recently, politicians and bureaucrats are the most corrupt. The police are the second most corrupt agency, followed by judges and lawyers in third position, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in fourth and the corruption control agency itself in fifth place.
Is corruption ingrained in our system? Though measures are being taken to curb corruption, can we ever hope for a change? The Week asked a selected few people for their opinion on the matter.
President, GoGo foundation
Corruption isn’t ingrained in our society, I believe it is more inbuilt. There is systematic corruption and that is scary. I say so because we have laws against corruption. Now we even have a constitution that speaks against it. There are around 19 overseeing agencies as well that have been established solely with the purpose of fighting such practices. The area we are lagging behind rather miserably is the implementation bit. Judiciary failure, for instance, cannot be ignored. CIAA’s efforts alone aren’t enough. There has been one too many instances where even solid cases presented by the CIAA have not been prosecuted.
But there is always hope to eradicate corruption from the society. Many other nations have done it in the past. Corruption spreads from the top to the bottom so it is high time people with integrity take over the government posts. And how do we ensure integrity? The only way I see is merciless action. Singapore did not develop itself by preaching people about righteousness and spirituality. They made sure all wrong doers were reprimanded. Nepal has the laws too, turn the pages of the constitution and penalize the culprits accordingly. Proper implementation yields results. It will help eradicate systematic corruption.
Bharat Bahadur Thapa
Chairman, Transparency International Nepal
Many reports on corruption have been coming out time and again and all the results match so there’s no denying that corruption is pervasive in Nepal. What’s worse is that people’s perception is such that government bodies and an organization that is supposed to curb corruption are considered the most corrupt. People base it on their experiences and we can’t deny that either. But where the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) is concerned, it doesn’t have jurisdiction in many areas which is why people think it’s not that effective in controlling corruption. In the new Constitution, the CIAA was given even less jurisdiction.
The main reason why corruption isn’t being controlled is because it doesn’t fall on the government’s priority list. If it had been then the departments where CIAA caught people taking bribes wouldn’t be in the news for the same reason again six months down the line. Corruption can only be curbed when the government bodies and the political parties work together to tackle this pressing issue. Other people can only do so much and until and unless it is nipped in the bud by the state itself, it will be hard to get corruption out of our system.
Country Program Manager, Skillshare Nepal
Corruption is a widespread problem in our country. But we have to realize that corruption starts and spreads from each one of us and to minimize it we have to start with ourselves. It is us who make the system and we are equally at fault for the escalating levels of corruption in the country. People today are victims of time and those who cannot afford to waste time on what they consider to be trivial matters can afford to pay people to get their work done fast. Over time, it becomes a culture. It is the poor people who suffer from the backlash of this culture. In a culture where money talks, no work will be done unless there’s some cash involved and not everybody can afford it.
I believe, as the future generation of the country, we can’t avoid the situation. We have to discuss this serious matter, shed light on it, and like I keep saying promote the ‘I’ factor. The one who gives a bribe is equally at fault as the one who takes it. There might be limitations and restrictions as to the work we can get done without giving a bribe but we have to stop this malpractice right away.
Sharada Bhusal Jha
Anti corruption activist
I have always said there is law in Nepal but there is no justice. The government elects might have been given various posts by votes of the public but we can all see that they are not people’s representative. They work solely to serve their respective parties. So when they sit for meetings to talk reforms and make several provisions, they often have ulterior motives. The extent to which various government posts have been misused is unbelievable.
The sad part is that many are willing to turn a blind eye to this. Again the self serving nature shines here. It’s not that the public is foolish. They seem to be ignoring the fact that standing up to such activities now will ensure a better future for everyone. Most would rather add two more rupees to their own earnings than do something for the society. To some degree, ignorance may play a part. The notion that the public is the king of the country and holds immense power is not understood by many. Thus they haven’t been able to make most of that influence.
Even those who wish to make some difference find it incredibly difficult. There may be 27 laws against corruption in our country but the justice system lets them down time and again. For there to be any hope of eliminating corruption in our country, the law and its implementation need to be stronger.