Combating Corruption: A Human Rights Approach

Sangit Sarita Dwivedi

Last updated: 06-11-2020

Little things …O Little things…! Magnify yourself. Most debates on the issue of corruption i.e., disastrous consequences for democratic societies, revolves around chanting mantras of economic growth and not on the decline in the position of human development. The problem is that corruption reflects how little we care about the general interest and how strongly some section of the society focuses on short term personal benefits. The issue of human rights has thrown up unprecedented challenges to the world. This is so in every walks of society. Corruption is a global phenomenon that every society faces. Though its degree of severity varies from country to country, no country has a 100% human rights record, and no country is devoid of corruption. And what this implies for Indian society is quite alarming!

The struggle to promote human rights and the campaign against corruption share a common ground. Both are struggling for a decent life of human beings as the two are dependent on each other. Corruption violates human rights and undermines the rule of law. Though media has often highlighted the image of corruption and malfeasance, unless the State makes Human Rights its focal point, it cannot provide good governance. The State is primarily responsible for both formulating and enforcing policies relating to good governance and human rights. Without good governance, human rights cannot be respected and protected sustainably. Institutions like the NHRC(National Human Rights Commission) must attempt to understand the implications of corruption for human rights not only from a theoretical perspective but also from a practical viewpoint. The human rights approach to the corruption control mechanism is a prerequisite in the corruption resistance movement. The law enforcement of the government to ensure corruption-free governance ought to be perceived as a part of the right of the people to seek a corruption-free government. If the constitutional governance has to work in the context of various social, economic, and political transitions that occur in India, the anti-corruption initiatives should be integrated with the human rights discourse, and collaborations should be undertaken with countries that have successfully managed to curb the corruption to some extent.

The causal relationship is an important issue to study in more depth. Despite its long history, there is no single universally agreed-upon definition of corruption. The human rights perspective on the negative impact of corruption reveals that the State bears ultimate responsibility for corruption. Among the reason for widespread social malpractices is economic inequality, underdevelopment, poverty, unawareness, illiteracy, social acceptance of corrupt practices, etc. As these problems have deep social linkages, the solution ultimately lies at the grassroots level where better coordination is required among local institutional actors- governmental as well as non-governmental organizations.

To achieve these targets, the governmental and non-governmental agencies must explore the relationships between corruption and human rights, the impact of corruption on the right to health, the right to education, and freedom of expression in India. It should discuss and review to what extent domestic law and international law ought to influence national efforts in the fight against corruption. Media performs a vital role in not just covering stories of corruption but also keeps its memories. The dichotomy between free media and democracy is the bare necessity of transparency in our system.

          The need of the hour is to critically examine from a human rights perspective, the legal and institutional approaches in the fight against corruption and its implications for public policy and governance reforms. An integral approach is essential to overcome the problems of corruption and violations of human rights. Particular attention should be paid to issues of lawlessness, and civil society participation in the promotion of human rights and anti-corruption struggles. Furthermore, indicators need to be developed to demonstrate the correlation of social evils and human rights. Corruption free society is a pre-requisite for a democracy to be successful. The long-term solution lies in reducing poverty, improving the quality of education, and expanding access to a decent way of life. It is high time that consciousness is generated at the general level and let the people awake where all participate. We need to remind ourselves constantly that the Indian reality particularly in its economic, sociological, and human dimensions conditions all aspects of the security, the focus thus remains on success, freedom, and well-being of people.

-Sangit Sarita Dwivedi

The author, Dr. Sangit Sarita Dwivedi, teaches in the Department of Political Science, Bharati College, University of Delhi. She is a scholar of International Relations and a keen observer of Indian Politics and Foreign Affairs.

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