In a democratic environment, after a landslide victory a rise in aura of confidence in the mind of the leadership or in party members is quite natural and justifiable. Unfortunately, the victor always misses the determination to win the next election as parochial self and party interest overpowers the national interest; the interest, for which people voted them to power. Therefore, every time a landslide victory turns into an avalanche of defeat by the end of the term. When a party is in power, it has the scope to do well for the people but not while in opposition. But surprisingly it is always the opposition who wins the election, not the party in power. Why is it that every time the mass opinion sways so much from the party in power to the party outside the power? If the defeat by the ruling party is natural then how did Jyoti Bashu’s communist party remain in power in West Bengal for as many as 25 years or Mahathir Mohammad of Malaysia for 22 years till he left voluntarily to his successor? It is not that our party in power wants to retire for next 5 years, handing over the power to the opposition; rather they try tooth and nail to remain in power but fail miserably.
The reality is, as long as corruption prevails in our system, the authority will fail to provide justice to the ‘have nots’ and they constitute the majority who in turn decide the next party in power. If the election is conducted freely and fairly, the party in power with corruption has no scope to return. In fact, whoever succeeds in managing this deep-rooted virus of our country can be sure to remain in power as long as it desires. When a party goes after money, the people and power run away from them, and vice versa, when a party is for the people, the power never leaves them. Isn’t thirty-seven years too long a time to learn the lesson? Every time we failed to identify the real problem; it is not with the opposition, the problem emanates from within. It is the inherited basic corrupt attitude of our politicians and their ally bureaucrats that push the party out of power. President Barak Obama rightly said in his address at Ebenezer Baptist Church, “I’m not talking about the budget deficit. I’m not talking about the trade deficit, I’m talking about the moral deficit in this country. It is time to reinstall the common phenomenon that we are all accountable for our actions to the people of this nation.” Being the most powerful person on the face of the earth, if the President of USA is concerned with their moral deficit do we have any choice?
Even if a victorious leader identifies the root cause of our fundamental problem, he or she fails to find the right person to do the job. The environment has been polluted so much that it is difficult to find an honest person to lead the country towards honesty. Financially honest people are readily available but a functionally and administratively honest person is hard to find. Therefore, initial enthusiasm of getting the country on honest footing gradually diminishes with the passage of time. To get the people on honest footing we need leadership with 2 distinct capabilities. One is personal honesty and the other is capability of rehabilitating the corrupt. Individual honesty is good but still inadequate in creating an honest environment if there is a brutal display of nepotism. The second capability of “turning the corrupt into honest” demands combination of 3 different gifted potentials these are insight, foresight and wisdom. Falling short of any one will drastically hamper the anti-corruption (AC) effort.
The misconceptions that corrupt politician are the root cause of our corrupt environment has been erased by the last caretaker government. During that period, with the suspected corrupt politicians in jail or outside the country and a fully independent ACC in action, TIB reports that grassroot level corruption increased by 2% in 20 months time. The lessons are, it is not a problem of politician, bureaucrats or someone targeted for blame game campaign. This is a disease of the heart and mind; a man gets morally corrupt long before he acts on it. Prevention of corruption is an insignificant aspect of the total treatment, which independent ACC is doing today. ACC has failed to ensure honesty within their own institution, how can they bring honesty in the country? The major task of clearing the mindset remains absent. Never can we reach our dream of an honest environment by only catching the corrupt. To reduce the gap between the aspiration and reality we need right kind of experts for the job. President Obama selected a man of 27 years as his script writer; we have a lesson to take here. America never goes by the halo affect of someone’s past record, they believe in real time ongoing productivity.
Human behavior is observable and therefore measurable. With this two distinct qualities of behavior, it can very much be tampered and provide desired direction or shape. This is possible by changing perception and can only be done by experts, not by any honest Tom, Dick or Harry. Highly technical input of perception in the form of action, reaction or inaction can motivate people to change their attitude which ultimately changes their behavior. We need to apply that technology to change our present level of corrupt behavior to an honest one. The brute and rowdy attitudinal display during US election should provide enough insight that we need a major repair work of our morale fabric, our behavior. Make the life of a corrupt person uncomfortable, risky and socially embarrassing. In the 3rd world this concept is hazy, but in developed countries they have the expertise to achieve such objectives. We need to build the foundation of a system where accountability is demanded at all levels, civilian and government. This will only work by the age old statement, “Leadership by example.”
Corruption is our colonial legacy and descended with augmented strength through Pakistan regime. Situation of our neighbor is better; occasionally their ruling party comes back to power and the visible economic development that they are making justifies that. As far as selection of aid in the form of ministers and advisers are concerned, one would agree with me that “there could not have been a better choice.” Our foreign policy dictates malice towards none but that will never prevail if we develop malice against our own people with corrupt heart and mind. That is our worst enemy and genuinely demands topmost attention for our survival. I hope the present government provides sufficient concentration on this and rescues this nation from the historical image of a bottomless basket. Under the present party in power we got our geographical freedom; let us hope that the same party provides us the freedom from corruption that we are enduring for the last thirty-seven years.
Author: Abu Yousuf Zobayerullah
Article Published on The Daily Star