Get­ting it done in South Asia

Southasia - - COVER STORY - –Amna Nadeem

Ac­cord­ing to a Trans­parency In­ter­na­tional re­port, South Asia is the most cor­rupt re­gion in the world with Pak­istan, In­dia, Bangladesh, Mal­dives, Nepal and Sri Lanka be­ing the coun­tries where cor­rup­tion is preva­lent in all public-sec­tor or­ga­ni­za­tions.

A sur­vey was con­ducted by South Asia Mag­a­zine to study what cor­rup­tion means to in­di­vid­u­als, the sources of cor­rup­tion and whether cor­rup­tion is the only way to get things done. Var­i­ous peo­ple were asked for their re­sponses. Th­ese in­cluded en­trepreneurs, jour­nal­ists, lawyers and stu­dents. Re­sponse was re­ceived from Pak­istan, In­dia, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

When asked who or what is the source of cor­rup­tion, 96% named both of­fi­cials and so­ci­ety be­ing as cor­rupt.

“Cor­rup­tion does not only con­sti­tute an of­fi­cial tak­ing bribe, it also in­volves the ci­ti­zen giv­ing bribe, mak­ing both in­ter-de­pen­dent,” said Ahad, a lawyer. Free­lance jour­nal­ist Anoushka Ali ex­plained the phe­nom­e­non as a vi­cious cy­cle that pre­vails as the in­di­vid­ual is will­ing to pay more to get a job done faster and of­fi­cials are will­ing to take bribe as fee. A num­ber of re­spon­dents also men­tioned those in­flu­en­tial families for spread­ing cor­rup­tion that con­trol sig­nif­i­cant parts of var­i­ous in­dus­tries and busi­nesses.

When asked if cor­rup­tion was the only way to get things done, 8 out of 11 peo­ple con­sid­ered it pos­si­ble to get things done with­out us­ing cor­rupt meth­ods, but they did say that it will take a lot of pa­tience and time to achieve this. Some did not agree to this no­tion. Siraj Ahmed, a busi­ness­man, said, “In or­ga­ni­za­tions like the stock ex­change or a gov­ern­ment body, it is im­pos­si­ble to get things done with­out hand­ing out a hefty bribe.”

The re­spon­dents also sug­gested that cor­rup­tion can be de­scribed as a dis­ease, mis­use of au­thor­ity and breach of jus­tice and is more preva­lent in South Asia than in other parts of the world. The rem­edy was de­scribed as the cleans­ing of so­ci­ety.

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