ANTI CORRUPTION AS A SUBJECT IN UNIVERSITIES – BY Shantonu Sen

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Is the subject right for university students to imbibe? That is the question that begged an answer as I stared at the head lines in one of the morning papers  on a Sunday. With thirty four years service in the countries premier anti corruption investigation department  behind me I wrestled with the possible syllabus for university classes on Anti-corruption. The subject as  one to investigate is taught , discussed, analysed in almost all police academies in the various States of India apart from  being taught to instructers of the subject  in the CBI Academy Gaziabad. Those classes will be of no help in drawing up a curriculum for fresh school pass outs. The modern generation of young university entrants are worldy wise . The subject of anti corruption might well tempt them  with its esoteric label today but they will reflect upon its utility to further their aspirations .

Going back 60 years when  with a Senior  Cambridge  certificate  I entered college would  this subject have tempted  me?  A jesuit school back ground  where Moral Character , a subject carrying 100 marks , had lessons of what was morally right and morally wrong was   a part of me.  Lessons in personal rectitude with examples from lives of Catholic saints provided for an interesting forty minutes every day  in school hours. There was some times a lively debate  following the lesson. Some precepts went contrary to what we, following other denominations , practiced and as class ten students we did not hesitate to  question, often with great vehemence,  what the Catholic religion taught as good moral behavior. The classes were quite exhilirating often and as last class of the day it ate into our games period but we never minded that. Most schools today have given up devoting a full class to impart moral lessons these days. Pity.  Thus the  idea that corruption  or anti corruption can become an university subject strikes as novel concept and certainly worthy of consideration. Why? One good reason will suffice. To teach this subject one lesson that  has to  be its part  is bringing home to the students by the faculty  what action by the citizen   is legally not permissible. What constitutes violation of anti corruption laws of the country must be in the syllabus.  Since most of these laws, generally,  spring from deviations of moral behavior  lessons in morality will become  an essential bye-product of teaching this subject in the universities. What the schools have given up will be restored in the universities.

What could be the span of its studies ? Certainly, the laws that constitute corruption in the country  must come in for attention quite early. Paying bribes to public sevants, submitting incorrect information where statutes require an honest disclosure, not paying taxes on income from any venture, taking of bribes by public servant for not doing   their  duty, actions that reveal seious fraud affecting the economy of the country are some areas of corruption that will require some serious attention.Co-relation between public and private behaviour  of prominent  people will be another area that cannot be overlooked.  Socio-political views,  that impinge on the character of the individual must also be a part of the curriculum.   Swami Vivekananda’s interpretation of ethics and  privilege  could be  taught.  Ethics, he says, knows no variation  that prevents purification and perfection of the soul. It recognises  the external , infinite essential purity of the soul in spite of every thing to the contrary that appears on the surface. On privilege Swamiji’s take is ” enjoyment of advantage over the other is privilege , and throughout ages the aim of  morality is its destruction”. When this advantage is against the laws of the country its corruption.  Aurobindo, Swami Dayanand Saraswati and many other Indian and Western savants like Leo Trotsky have said and written similarly. Logically   they will , too, be a part of   the study of anti corruption in our universities.  So will be  a history of corruption. 30 BC the Greeks first reported it . Their ships needed to pay under the table ( they existed even then for such deals! ) to get facilities in some nearby ports. They called it ” rusvet” We in India till today call it ” rishbat”!    A welcome decision, one that should be implemented.

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