One thing that we often hear in Manipur is the complaint about the existence of high level of corruption. We do, however, also sometimes hear some kind of implicit denial of the existence of this complex and subtle monster or fairy. In fact, corruption does exist almost everywhere where men exist; but the difference seems to be in the degree and level of its practice. The corruption that we’re encountering in our land of jewels too has developed considerably and has attained a remarkable level of sophistication and complexity. We may wonder and ask whether this thing is involved in almost every activity or in only few areas and matters like job recruitment and development works like road, dam, building constructions etc. And again, we can also ask whether it is practised by only few individuals but shunned by the majority. We can also ask who are more guilty – those who insist to pay and get something done or those who accept and insist on being paid the desired price for special favour which nowadays allegedly amount to lakhs of rupees which may cross 10, 15, 20 lakh rupees? We can also ask whether everybody pays or takes the palm greasing backdoor/window entry money. Or are the illegal undercover corrupt activities indulged in by only a minority but denounced and decried by the majority of the population!
Going by the number of educated unemployed youth registered at the Employment Exchange –seven lakh or something – we may claim that Manipur is facing a high employment level which appears to be one of the major social problems. Viewed from a positive angle, Manipur is making rapid progress on the educational front but in the wake of which lakhs of youth seem to feel being left stranded in a wilderness called unemployment problem. Nevertheless, thousands of youth are helping themselves by providing themselves with self-employment activities like farming, driving, teaching, opening shops, workshops, etc; and hundreds and thousands others are working in privately owned institutions like schools, colleges, clinics, hospitals, banks, hotels and so forth.
By being unemployed what we generally understand is not being employed under the central or state government. So, when viewed from a longer angle, unemployment rate in the state of Manipur may not be so high as generally believed; but the hunt for what is called a more secure, better paid, less stringent government job continues to obsess the minds of thousands of unemployed youth. This being the case, there are allegations and accusations galore in print and electronic media of wide practice of job bidding competition in major government departments, in other words, job buying and selling activities. If these allegations happen to be really true, there are good reasons to feel alarmed for our society and future generation. There are allegations and accusations galore in print and electronic media of corruption, nepotism and favouritism in matters of job recruitments and appointments. What can be inferred from the situation in which there is one party which is eager to get a govt job by hook or crook even at the high cost of lakhs of rupees and another party has high expectation of being paid well. So, another question arises here as to how many people or what percentage of our population can afford to buy government jobs at exorbitant prices. There are lakhs of graduates and undergraduates in the state who dream of one day becoming a government employee, but how many of them can afford to buy the limited number of posts/jobs available in the job market!
Despite all these allegations and accusations, I have also heard of some well educated youth getting high grade government jobs without the involvement of any bribery, palm greasing or corruption. I have heard that many youth got their MCS, doctor, lecturer jobs without having paid even a ‘siki’. Hence, what we may derive from what we hear and read is the existence of two ways of getting government jobs. One that is free from corruption, and the other, through its real involvement. Instead of the word, ‘corruption’, let me just use here ‘price payment’. The phenomenon of price payment comes into the scene because of high demand of jobs but availability limited number of jobs. For one thousand available posts, ten thousand youth come to compete and a big room for ‘price payment’ gets created. The bigger the number of candidates, the bigger is the convenience of demanding high price for a job. But, we can again ask here whether it is really impossible to select the best few from the huge number of candidates? Let’s, for instance, consider teaching job recruitment, for which there are only four hundred posts but four thousand candidates apply; will it be impossible to select the required number from the so many candidates without the involvement of bribery? Every year, lakhs of youth apply for MBBS admission, IAS recruitment, central services like bank P.O., S.O. etc but only few thousands and few hundred are selected without the involvement of corruption. Likewise, best policemen, teachers, clerks, I think can be selected through systematic written tests and interviews alone without the involvement of any corruption. Now the competition is in payment of high prices which cannot be afforded by many hard working and well qualified candidates.
What will be good for the overall and long-run welfare of the land is for corruption to be done away with in all areas of activities. If we wish to see a truly prosperous and developed Manipur, we need to make collective and concerted efforts to eradicate corruption beginning from your and my family. We’d better work hard, study hard and earn what we deserve instead of thinking of buying a job; and those in authority and power also need to think of selecting the most deserving candidates, not those who can pay money. The culture of buying and selling jobs needs to go away if we really want to see a developed land in the future. It should be merit that matters most, not purchasing power of the candidates. Let’s assume some candidates manage to mobilise money by incurring heavy debts which will take years to repay to the lender; the monthly salary that the selected candidate gets may not be sufficient for maintaining family expenditure as well as paying interests of the borrowed money, or in the case of candidates who had sold family property or land, he will doubtlessly try to rebuild or recover what had been sold in the process of procuring the needed fund for job purchase.
If we wish to see an equalitarian society of equal opportunities, then the interference of corruption needs to be removed by one and all without engaging in blame game. Common people as well as people in power need to take firm decision and commitment to discontinue this practice. If we are true lovers of our motherland, we need to give up easy money making pursuits and ambitions. There is nothing that suddenly appears by magic act. How can I become a millionaire in an overnight without engaging in some illegal or nefarious activities of which corruption happens to be one. But if I want to become rich quickly and suddenly, I will have to either engage in misuse and misappropriation of public money provided I’m in some kind of power position.
I recently read in the internet website Quora that big bureaucrats like IAS officers are in such position of power that if they really wish, they can misuse or earn crores of rupees in few years time. The same is the case for other subordinate officers, bureaucrats. The opportunity of indulging is even much higher in the case of rulers and ministers. There is the possibility and rooms for misuse and misappropriation of hundreds of crores of rupees – funds for development of roads, schools, clinics, hospitals, colleges, departmental offices etc — meant for lakhs of common people. Here, I would like to say that there are indeed many bureaucrats, ministers and officers who struggle hard to shun corruption and disengage themselves from it; but there are also many who actually allow themselves to wallow in this muddy water called CORRUPTION.
If we wish to see a prosperous welfare state, we the ordinary people as well as people in power need to make collective and concerted efforts to eradicate corruption. We need to refuse to indulge in payment of bribes; we need to stop selling our voting rights for few hundred rupees; we need to organise conventions, discussions and symposiums for finding ways and means to do away with this old practice of corruption which should have no place in this post-modern society.