This article accounts the second one of the series- ‘Corruption’, where TheSocialTalks writes about the corruption practices, its prevalence and privilege.
Corruption is one of the most underlying reasons that contribute to the hindrance of a nation’s development. It is an issue which has not only developed but also worsened with time. India ranks 80th position in the current corruption perception index (CPI), which is not a matter of relief as population plays an important role in its determination. Therefore, India is nearly worse as any Sub Saharan African country.
Like any other country, rural areas suffer intolerable corruption. Lack of education, poor ground-level observation and feeble government and institutional outreach are the reasons popularly explained behind the high rates of corruption in rural areas as compared to the urban. Over the last 10 years, the Indian government has increased the number of policies to bring development in rural areas. They strengthened several existing policies like MGNREGA 2006 and NRHM 2005, just to facilitate more corruption.
Corruption in rural areas include many people including the government themselves, the politicians, village officers, bank officials, ‘Sarpanch’ or the head of the village, the middle-men, drivers and even teachers. Bribery, grafting and extortion are very common and these people don’t have proper access to justice either. Most of the police stations and law enforcement institutions in these areas are highly corrupt and people don’t often approach them due to their loutish behaviour.
As mentioned earlier, government policies encouraged corruption to an exemplary level that, through these schemes, people tend to suffer more rather than be relieved. For years, MGNREGA has been one of the greatest supports for unemployment in rural India. But during the last 2 years, it hardly received any funds. Even the 2019-2020 budgets fully ignored the scheme and the 13 crore households dependent on it. The benefits allocated through the scheme are more or less completely dependent on the government funds mentioned in the budget. Therefore, many of them who work under the scheme do not receive timely payments.
On the other hand, many of those who do not come under the schemes and even have no particular idea about it indirectly receive huge amounts of money through contractors. To date, 31 million fake job cards are found to be existing under the scheme which contributes to huge fund leakage. In 2017, NDA government removed 14% of the fake job cards but the rest of them are still a question mark. This bribe happens in almost every village and is equally a kick in the face for the bread-winners supported by the scheme. Their cries and complaints went unbothered and the authorities and some village heads shooed off the media from this as it is a fallacious subject.
One of the biggest challenges faced in rural India is education. Even though many of the inhibitors leave for urban towns in pursuit of labour and better education for their children, again a large number of people have to helplessly enrol their children in rural public schools and colleges. These schools are some among the biggest scams and homes for many types of corruption. Students are either taken care of as a favour to the parents who pay the bribes or are completely neglected as weeds on a barren land. These schools are more or less a contract between the principal and village head or sarpanch and nothing can go beyond their actions. Parents often end up paying them bribes to keep the attendance, to pass their children and to help them cheat.
It is so fascinating to see many rural men holding degrees of BA, MA, or BSc. But the truth unfolds when you see them utter and buffer for a basic 5th grade question. A considerable proportion of these schools are headed by uneducated principals and teachers who equally pay a sum to the village head to keep their jobs and reputations.
The Government of India initiated the mid-day meal plan to encourage more parents to send their children school, as well as to help in their nutrition. But little did they know that the plan was going to benefit the moderators. As per the plan, students have to be provided with oats/milk, mini packets of biscuit and a healthy lunch consisting of rice, pulses and vegetables. Also, the government made sure that they send the raw materials instead of money to avoid any corrupt dealings. But, corrupt minds outsmarted the government by cross selling these supplies in the market. Again, these little kids are left with packed khichdi/dhalia from hotels. The issue is deteriorating to an extreme level and food poisoning cases in these schools and local residential colleges are surging.
Farmers have always fallen prey to corruption. The middle-man system in markets which India is still following has always affected the producers. The country doesn’t lack food ration stores in its villages but it faces major challenges such as proper storage, timely supply of grains, irregular prices, inaccurate amounts of supply and food leakage. The ration shops of many villages in UP, Bihar and Jharkhand do not supply the right quantity as stipulated by the government. Instead, they have their own price, their own quantity and their own timings to supply the goods. Even after the middle-men were removed to reduce expense and corruption, the driver who transports the supplies became the new middle-man.
The government incentives to have chains of banks across the rural areas almost succeeded to keep people away from the money lenders who demanded high interest rates. But did this allow accessibility to loans and withdrawal of beneficiaries? Almost 40% of the rural banks commit bribery which they simply refer to as “commission”. For example, if a loan of 50,000INR is applied, the maximum amount of 40,000INR will be only obtained by the customer after paying the 10,000 to the bank official. But they will also have to pay the whole 50,000INR with interest. This practice doesn’t reflect in the annual report, therefore it is still rampant all over the country.
We often call corruption with a very sweet name – jugad. Everything in India is possible with jugad. With jugad, the tiring process in village offices, long queues in banks, reckless procedures in Akshaya centres, complicated certification from private institutions,are easily dealt with. Hence, the plucking of corruption from its root is not only difficult but nearly impossible. But these weeds can be cropped through thorough examining and monitoring by establishing more government institutions in the rural areas.
It is not that the government has not at all turned a face to this subject. Linking of aadhaar with bank accounts that leads to the aadhaar-based payment system became a hindrance for corruption. Periodic surveys are being conducted by them to closely examine the faux. Periodic and sudden inspections in schools, hospitals and government offices will help to catch tax frauds and irregular influx and leakage of money. Urban school and college students should be brought for camp in rural areas through service schemes like NSS, Red-Cross, SPC etc to educate the rural people about their rights, provisions and different allowances they can claim.
Development of a country begins from its rural areas and corruption is the biggest intruder for a country’s development. Considering this fact, for a country to grow, eliminating a good proportion of corruption in the rural areas is the panacea.
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