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Paul Vadakumpadan, Guwahati says,
CORRUPTION OF CULTURE OR CULTURE OF CORRUPTION
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Guwahati, Aug. 18. Who in this country does not raise his voice against corruption? Well, here is one.

The famous comedian Jaspal Bhatti once announced the formation of a new political party, to be called the Havala Party. Since we have so many parties, one more is always welcome.  He invited all those who were charge sheeted by investigating agencies to join it. The slogan of the party would be ``Remove honesty``.  This is likely to be easier than removing dishonesty or poverty. He went on to say that ``corruption should not be restricted to politicians alone. It should, in fact, reach the common man and bribes should become part of daily life.`` Bhatti in his own inimitable style is speaking about something that is already a fact of life in many parts of the world. The recent hoopla surrounding legislation to deal with corruption in India shows the seriousness of the question.

According to statistics, among the most corrupt countries in the world are Nigeria, Indonesia and India. This undoubtedly is a disgrace. However, when one sees on television, day after day, even VIPs being hauled up before magistrates and judges, one feels a sense of momentary satisfaction. Surely, all is not lost. There is some reason, at least for hope.

More than  sixty years have already passed since our country gained independence. It makes no sense now to put the blame for our problems on others. We have to solve our problems. After all, we created them.  Fighting corruption is essential if the country is to go forward. Otherwise even after hundred years of independence, we will be looking for alibis for our failure to solve actual problems.

Looking at our history, I wonder where exactly we went wrong. In a group discussion once, the point at issue was the most widespread element of our culture. Someone cynically pointed out that it was corruption. Reasons? It is found from Kashmir to Kerala, Maharashtra to Manipur. It is found among Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Jains, atheists. It is found among supporters of all political parties. Is this then part of culture or is it corruption of our culture? Bhatti`s new party can reach out to every nook and corner of the country and transcend all differences. It can become a truly national party to the national disgrace of all those who live in this country.

One way to stem the rot is to celebrate occasions like independence and republic days with less of fanfare and more of introspection and renewed commitment. Creating a new society is the responsibility of everyone. It can be as challenging as the struggle for independence.

New legislation is welcome. But that is no magic wand. Who will guard the guards?

Tailpiece
``In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of`` (Confucius).

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