ARTICLES : Gandhian view On Politics

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Political Corruption, Its Reactions and Gandhian

By M. Balaji,
Research Scholar, Dept. of Philosophy,
Pondicherry University,

The contemporary world gives full of awareness to the people and their utilization such as socio-economic, political, material, and spiritual. This awareness were commonly used in the primitive stages. As time passes in the name of civilization, the human beings concentrated on the powers for their own fulfillment. The practice of fulfilling the desires results in luxuries life. With the fear of future, the creed towards luxuries life ends with the evil of corruption. It is the age old phenomena; it has the deep roots in earliest history. In India Kautilya has pointed out in his Arthasastra that “just as it is impossible not to taste the honey or the poison that finds itself at the tip on the tongue, so also it is impossible for a minister or a government servant not to eat up at least a bit of government revenue.” (B. Venkatappiah, ‘Misuse of Office’ in David L. Stills (ed), International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, Vol. II, The Macmillan Company and the Free Press, U.S.A., p. 272.) It is the psychological factor that rested on the human mind, the desire for more than our needs motivated by creed, leads to corruption. It is a social evil against the peaceful life. Corruption means the misuse of the power for the sake of more benefits, which may be material or non-material. In our day today life, we have been experiencing and witnessing about corruption. Most of the civil servants misuse their power and authority in order to obtain an extra income from the public. It is a kind of exploitation done through their position or post or power and also dangerous to the civil life. The abovementioned issues are the most common phenomenons of the corruption, particularly in the field of politics it is getting more coercive violent nature. Political corruption is the corruption done by the political actors or politicians for their own betterment life or career. By nature it is more effective than other forms because it affects the national life in policy making, implementing and experimentation. For example: if the minister of the certain ministry is corrupted, he can not work for the public, instead of that he should do favors for the money givers. In this context, in this paper I wish to analyze the political corruption, it causes, effects and also some valuable suggestions against corruption in respect of Gandhian appraisal.

Political Power

Generally Politics is the organized dispute about power and its use, involving choice among competing values, ideas, persons, interests, demands. Political power means the capacity to regulate national life through genuinely elected national representatives. Political corruption is caused by the misuse of political power by the national representatives. Political power is the best means to attain the political as well as the social ends. In addition to that, our politicians tainted towards this power gain their own economic benefits. They are using this as the more profitable and easiest route to attain wealth and rich. In the corruptive institution the political power is subordinated for the political value in order to achieve the economic ends. That means fundamental principle of politics is not an act to attain the publics aims but only for the promotion of the selfish ends. Thereby Gandhi said “Corruption and hypocrisy ought not to be inevitable products of democracy, as they undoubtedly are today.” This implies the meaning of our system of government: the democratic government is basically good but our politicians by losing morality, they are liable to corruption. The moral empowerment of the politician is necessary factor to act as the genuine representative of the people. It only can promote their mental maturity in the proper manner that lead them to proper policy-making and implementation. Gandhi had rightly said I have derived my politics from ethics… It is because I swear by ethics that I find myself in politics. (M. K. Gandhi, Harijan, 03-10-1936). Similarly along with Gandhi, Rousseau said that the operating principle of the community is moral and a man in his moral pursuit works in the interest of fellow citizens. It is a fact that the political power is always liable to corruption. Thus to preserve the country and also the ethical empowerment in politics it is necessary to take the measures. It is not only for the politicians and also for each and every citizen of India to uphold and protect themselves from corruption.


Basically corruption is an universal evil, it not specific only for certain countries. It is the longstanding problem of the world. The causal argument says that ‘without cause there is no effect’ that means each and every effects presupposed by the cause. Thereby we can say the effect of corruption must have the cause. What are the causes? It is the unavoidable question rise here. The answers of the question are 1. Creed in order to enjoy the luxuries life, 2. Fear for future in order to protect dignity, 3. Concentration on the both political as well as economic power in order to maintain their domination. Among these three causes, the first one is the very basic level and also it is most common for all people. Because human beings are basically the seekers of the better than present, in the field of politics, the politicians have more possibilities to do so. In minimum level it not that much dangerous but in the next level it will affect the national life. The second cause is: the desire of the chair. In this case most of the politicians in India and around the world, they do want to leave the position. When once he has occupied, he will seek for better position and ultimately it will lead to the family politics. For example in India, the Nehru family dominating the congress party and also the government. Whenever they come to the position, they will govern the ruling party. Similarly in Tamilnadu, DMK party and their government is also the best example. In it, most of the party as well as the government power rested only in M. Karunanithi (party head and former chief minister) and his family members. When Karunanithi was in the ruling position, he had given home minister post to his son Stalin with his alliance influences on the congress government got minister posts for his another son Azhakiri, his daughter Kanimozhi and his grandson Dhayanithimaran in the central government. At same time aforementioned Karunanithi’s family members also having the important positions in DMK party. It is the kind political corruption called as Nepotism. The Santhanam Committee says that “There is widespread impression that failure of integrity is not unlnown among ministers and that some ministers, who have held office during the last sixteen years, have enriched themselves illegitimately, obtained good jobs for their sons and relations through nepotism and have reaped other advantages inconsistent with any notion of purity in public life….” (Santhanam Committee Refprt, Published by the Government of India, 1964, pp. 101-102.) The third cause: concentration of the political as well as economic power is the cause as well as effect, as cause leads to centralization of power in the hands of one or few, which is the starting point to political autocracy and economic capitalism. As the effect it is the result of the second cause: the fear of future and saving their position for the better than now.

  • It is the pathetic condition of India; today that the people are compelled to give bribery for the right action in the right time. Actually it was done for only the wrong actions in the earlier periods. It is prime achievement of corruption to change the public attitude towards the corruption as an unavoidable social practice, that is to say “It has now become almost a way of life.” (K. S. Padhy, P. K. Muni, Corruption in Indian Politics (cited), Discovery Publishing House, Delhi, 1897, p. 34.).
  • The political corruption makes the close connection bureaucracy, politics, mafias and criminals. For example; the lobbyist Nira Radia recently suspected by the CBI in the 2G Spectrum allocation case. On criminalization of politics N. N. Vohra, Union Secretary (1995) said in his report, a network of mafias is virtually running a parallel government pushing the state apparatus into irrelevance. There has been a rapid spread and growth of criminal gangs, armed senas, drug mafias, smuggling gangs and economic lobbies in the country, which have over the years developed and intensive network of contacts with bureaucrats, government functions at local level, politicians, media persons and strategically located individuals in non-state sector. Some of these syndicates have also international linkages including the foreign agencies.
  • The political corruption leads to corrupt of the judicial and administration, thereby the most of our Indian politicians charged with criminal cases but most of them did not accused and the cases are pending still now by their political influence and our inept, slow judicial system. But at the lower levels robbery, Pick pocketing to fulfill their lively needs done by the poor are immediately accused and punished by the court. Our sincere police department poster their images in the public places with caution at the same time behind the billionaire corruptive politicians they are saluting and getting the urgency to open their car door. For some time they will be in prisoned, after that our judicial system allows them to get the luxuries life even in jail. In this way we should feel proud of our country as democratic.
  • Reduction of economic value: As far as Indian situation is concerned politics has been always liable to corrupt the economy of the public sectors. The rampant economy of the nation is saved in the foreign banks as the block money by the politicians. For example, 2G Spectrum Scam Rs, 1.76-lakh crore worth, Commonwealth Games Scam, Telgi Scam, Satyam Scam, Bofors Scam, Fodder Scam worth Rs, 900 crore and Hawala Scandal $ 18 Million bribery Scandal etc. These all are done by the politicians especially ministers and their supporters. This shows that the politicians have control over the national economy by corruption. Thereby poverty and economic inequality takes place in these circumstances. Millions and Crores of people are suffering for their lively needs of food, shelters and dresses and at the same time very few people are possessing thousands of crores in their hands by the corruption. India has very close similarity with United State of America in practicing one of the models of democracy in the world but in the economic development it is behind United States of America. It is a fact that political corruption is the most crucial reason for our economic instability. The citizens have very few means to protest against corruption in the present existential system.

The present Indian condition made us to think that Newton has failed in his third law that “to every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction” in the respect of corruption in India. Because we can not find any proper reaction against corruption in India still now. Never corrupted politicians and ministers properly punished here, most of them after accusation of their corruption remains same as before in their positions, no equal opposite reaction take place here. Partially in the dramatic manner Indian government forming the enquiry committees against the corruption but recommendation of the committees did not fully practiced. Reaction on political corruption has two dimensions, the first dimension lies from side of government, the second is public side. Before the prominent Gandhian follower and the social activist Anna Hazare’s mass movement for anti-corruption, we never find such a protest on it. He proposed the appointment of a Jan Lokpal, an independent body that would investigate corruption cases, complete the investigation within a year and envisages trail in the case getting over in the neat one year. The Lokpal Bill drafted by Justice Santosh Hegde : the former supreme court judge and present Lokayukta of Karnataka, Prashant Bhushan: the supreme court lawyer, and Arvind Kejriwal: the RTI activist. This Bill claims to establish the independent system where a person found guilty would go to jail within two years of the complaint being made and his corrupt property will be seize. It also claims power to the Jan Lokpal to accuse the politician and bureaucrats without government permission.
The Lokpal Bill is not a new one to India; it is 42 years old. The Gandhian activist Anna Hazare says that “On as many as eight occasions, the Likpal Bill was introduced in Parliament but nothing happened. Now some people say this is blackmail. I will continue to indulge in such blackmail till I am alive because this is for the people’s good.” (India Today) The government of India could not pass this Bill in its eight attempts, all the time all the governments still now ruled, pushed away from the parliament in the dramatic manner which mentions some irrational reasons. This time our government is showing the reason of the inclusion of the Prime Minister and the higher judiciary under the domain of the bill as danger of the governing process and it will lead to instability of the government. The most important debate is, inclusion of the Prime Minister under the bill whether it is good or bad. While these discussions are going on with Anna Hazare and Bill drafting committee, the yoga guru Baba Ramdev started the hunger strike and it was stopped by police with the force of the government. On this incident, the press releases were bring news such as Baba Ramdev is stimulated by RSS and Siva Sena, his property value is now Rs, 5000 crore and he did not get proper permission to organize in Ramlila ground and so on. With the questions of how Ramdev earned this much money and whether it is black money or not? His dramatic wave is rested. But the real follower of Gandhi Anna Hazare with the truthful mind, in a non-violent way and rightful claims still today striving on anti-corruption and try to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill.

Gandhian Resolution

Mahatma Gandhi is the Indian born great personality of the world. He was the social activist, political thinker and leader, eminent economist, prominent moralist and most basically he was the humanitarian. Under his leadership Indians got freedom from the foreign rule, in the same way his follower Anna Hazare’s leadership on the anti-corruption movement raised this much deep discussion than previous time. According to Gandhi “Corruption will go when the larger numbers of persons given to the unworthy practice realize that the nation does not exist for them, but that they do for the nation. It requires a high code of morals, extreme vigilance on the part of these who are free from the corrupt practice and also have influence over corrupt servants. Indifference in such matters is criminal.” (M. K. Gandhi, Harijan, 01-02-1948.) Gandhi’s socio-economic, political and moral principles have been more relevance for finding solution to corruption. For example his moral principles of Non-possession and Non-stealing are based on the belief on Truth and by the means on Non-violence. Non-possession and Non-stealing say that holding more than our needs implies stealing and it is the social evil. Thereby Gandhi suggested the economic concept of Trusteeship, it says that the person, who has more than his needs should be kept as the trustee of the property and he must spent that property for the sake of social welfare. Politically there is a best means in Gandhism to eradicate the political corruption, which is his concept of political decentralization. The concept of political decentralization in a democratic system is called as democratic decentralization and it is practiced in the form of Panchayat Raj system. It deals with central government power devolved towards the village government, in the same manner the system of Lokpal will devolve its power to the local body of its own. It is better to establish the district level Lokpal institution to control over the village governments and officials in its region, as the independent body only acts effectively against corruption in all the departments in a district. The state level Lokpal institution will have control over the district and deal the unresolved cases of the district level. The national Lokpal institution will have the control over the state institutions and resolve the cases which are unresolved by the state body. The three levels of the Lokpal institution work with assistance of the vigilance. Each is independent from the judicial and deals only the cases of corruption and each has the sufficiency of its own in taking the decisions according to the laws of the Bill. According to Gandhi “the best and the only right course would be for the public to prevent actual corruption from taking place by maintaining a sleepless vigilance, and for the servant to keep the public on the qui vive.” (Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, P. 312.) These three levels of Lokpal institutions will be the sleepless vigilance as Gandhi said.
The necessary of including the Prime Minister, who is the higher level representative and judicial personality, becomes controversial. The answer with the Gandhian appraisal will be yes because, he said that we are the sparks of the God. Whether Prime Minister or mere voter all should be treated as same in the society. In the present circumstances of today, it is most important to be more conscious on their responsibilities. As people’s representative and also as a head of the ministry, the Prime Minister has the control over other Ministers and their actions. It is not impracticable because he has the sufficient officials even if he wants he also can appoint some more. In the case of political corruption not done by the single Minister instead of that it is the activity of the group of Ministers. This fact is evidenced from the recent 2G Spectrum corruption. In it Former Ministers A. Raja and Kanimozhi are accused formerly and now Former Minister Dhayanithi Maran loses his minister post by the suspect of CBI. 2G Spectrum is one for just example as recent one there are many more in our Indian politics. Thus the inclusion of Prime Minister is not sufficient to eradicate political corruption. The Lok pal Bill must include the ruling party head and its alliance party heads also. Because for the party ideology and its working plan only people are voting its candidates thereby they have the obligation to be truthful and be sincere to the voters. And if there is any possibility, the party head has to participate in the corruption indirectly by their Ministers. In this circumstance the corrupted Minister will be only the tool. Actually the corruptive activities are usually done by the direction of the head of the party. So it is necessary condition to enquire the party leader under the law and order. In the case of inclusion of alliance party heads, the corrupted Minister and his party head must be included for the direct inquiry of the Lokpal institution. Because the party has to been the responsibility to its candidate’s activities. Here the party head may participate in corruption through his candidate. One more thing is that, people did not vote for that individual. They have the impression about the party. So the party has to bear the responsibility of control over its subjects from the corruptive manner.
The Lokpal Bill in its prolonged struggle now gained the serious discussion on it by the Gandhian social activist Anna Hazare. Every time it is pushed back by the politicians. In order to eradicate political corruption, the politicians must practice the Gandhi’s moral teachings, these are more helpful them to purify their character and attitude. The politicians must have the realization of the responsibility of votes. In Lokpal Bill, the inclusion of the Prime Minister and other higher officials and also ruling, alliance party heads is the necessary condition to vanish the political corruption from India. The district and state level Lokpal institutions should be establish in a simplest and also in an easiest process and reduce the burden. It will make the proximity of the people with the institution. The Lokpal Institution will decentralize its power with its constituent parts of district and state level institution with the direction of its own.

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