Corruption today has become a monolithic monster in Manipur, eating away at the very vitals of the society. It is not as if there is no corruption in the other states. In fact in terms of volume corruption may be much more elsewhere than here, but what few other states can match the state is in terms of its spread and depth of entrenchment. In a sense, it would not fall very short of target to say practically everybody with a stake in any public dealing has been corrupt in some way or the other. The base inclination to cheat the public coffer for personal aggrandizement is uncontrolled, and everybody is on a grabbing spree to illegally convert into private property, what is supposed to remain as everybody`™s property. This selfishness must have to be the explanation for the emergence of the phenomenon as an accepted tradition. It shows up in a wide range of cheating habits such as illegal tapping of electricity by ordinary consumers in connivance with petty officials and the kickbacks of percentage cuts that ministers are reputed to take from government contract works and purchases they dole out to sycophants and cronies. Everybody talks of these black deeds as if they were perfectly normal and practically everybody with even a toehold on the state executive structure thinks it is their right to take bribes to extend favour within their executive powers.
And so today we find even the lowliest white collared government employee has a purchasable price tag on his signature, and these prices are flaunted with pride, and often shown off with flourishes of expensive cars or mansions much beyond their means of legitimate incomes. And the skewed sense of natural justice today is, these shows of opulence by officials who have fattened themselves from public purses, are actually looked up upon by peers and society as well deserved rewards. In the end, the worth of the individual has come to be measured in terms of money only, no matter what colour the money is of. What other distortions can the understanding of achievement undergo we wonder. What other degradation social values can undergo too? But corruption is also very much a reciprocal process. If the public official who takes bribe for executive favours is corrupt, so is the bribe giver who feels no guilt about jumping merit norms and doing injustice to competitors. In a way, the bribe giver is also paying so as to be in the position of the bribe taker someday, when he too can up his value in today`™s perverted social scale, perpetuating this oppressive process into an extremely vicious cycle. The matter is complicated further by the emergence of insurgencies, whose only source of sustained big money inflow is the government coffer. We have come to a stage when extortion and corruption have actually come to complement each other, with one using the other as their raison d`™etre.
Corruption today is a beast not easy to rein in. But if our society must survive, there can be no way than to find a way of correcting the present perspective. We see no other way this can happen other than the top leadership beginning the process by seeing beyond their selfish interests and once and for all forgoing the black income everybody knows they earn. This would give them first of all the moral authority to tell others in the lower hierarchy of the government to end their corrupt ways, other than give them greater opportunity to focus on the serious business of governance. You cannot possibly have a head of government, or his cabinet colleagues, who thinks a ten percent cut from every government contract as his birth right expect his sermons on corruption and its ills to be take seriously by anybody. Surely the devil cannot convince anybody even if he were to quote extensively from the scriptures. But even this cleansing at the top would only be the beginning. The corruption toxin has percolated deep below the skin of our society. What is certain however is, the detoxification process must have to begin from the very top.