Monday, February 1, 2016

Corruption – Who is Responsible


We can only hope that the “bribe for promotion” allegations are not found true – otherwise – it will be a sad day for the Armed Forces – especially the Army.

All this reminded me of this article I had written more than 3 years ago…

CORRUPTION – WHO IS RESPONSIBLE…?
Musings on CORRUPTION and CULPABILITY
By
VIKRAM KARVE

Whenever there is a scam  it is quite amusing to see top leaders abdicate responsibility and blaming their juniors.

It seems to have become a standard leadership practice to dodge responsibility for scams, bribery and the corrupt activities  and pass the buck by blaming their juniors who are made scapegoats. 

However  from the ethical point of view  if there is a scam  the Top Man (Head of the Organization) cannot escape culpability  and he must be held accountable for corruption in the organization which he heads. 

When corruption takes place  there can be 4 scenarios as far as the Top Leadership or TOP MAN is concerned:


1. THE TOP MAN INITIATES THE CORRUPTION

The scam is done at the behest of the leader by morally pliable juniors. 

Thus – in this case – it is the Top Man who is directing and presiding over the corruption – and the obsequious, subservient and “flexible” subordinates facilitating, helping and participating in carrying out the corruption and also enjoying their share of the “pie” in the loot.

If you observe the various scams in the news these days – you will realize that most present day corruption falls in this category – it is the leader who initiates corruption.


2. THE TOP MAN IS INVOLVED IN THE CORRUPTION

A corruption “system” (systemic corruption) may already be in place in an organization – and the Top Man joins in and becomes a part of it. 

The Top Man starts participating in the corruption.

Here is an illustrative example:

“X” joined as the boss of an inspection organization on deputation. 

He had not served in that organization before. 

At the end of the first month, he found an envelope with money in his drawer. 

On inquiring, he was told that this was his “share” in the “hafta” or “mamool” 

He took the envelope and put it in his briefcase. 

The top man became a part of the “system”


3. THE TOP MAN TURNS A BLIND EYE TO THE CORRUPTION

The Top Man knows that there is corruption going on in his organization – but he turns a blind eye to the corruption.

He looks the other way – and he does nothing to stop the corrupt practices. 

He does not want to “rock the boat” or “ruffle feathers” – so he lets the corruption happen unhindered.

Whereas in first and second examples of corruption – the leader was guilty of “commission” – in this case – the Top Man is guilty of “omission”.   


4. THE TOP MAN IS CLUELESS ABOUT THE CORRUPTION

The Top Man is so incompetent that he does not know what is going on in his organization and he is ignorant and clueless about the corruption happening in his organization.

It is possible that he may be faking innocence – pretending to be clueless and feigning ignorance to wriggle out of the situation as we see in some recent cases.

Even if he is genuinely clueless about the corruption in his organization – then he is not fit to head the organization and he must be sacked on grounds of incompetence.


CONCLUSION

It is clear from the four cases elucidated above that the leader or top man is fully responsible, accountable and culpable for corruption in his organization because:

It is the top man who “INITIATES the corruption” or “is INVOLVED in the corruption” or “turns a BLIND EYE to the corruption” or “is CLUELESS about the corruption”

Yes – it is the Top Man in the Organization who does one or more of the following:

1. He initiates the corruption

2. He is involved in the corruption

3. He turns a Blind Eye to the corruption and he lets the corruption happen unhindered

4. He is Clueless about the corruption going on in his organization due to his incompetence and ineptitude?

Hence it is the leader who initiates, is involved in, turns a blind eye to or is clueless about corruption.

In all the four cases the Leader or Top Man must be held culpable for the corruption in his organization.

When a scam happens or corruption is prevalent in an organization – the Top Man cannot shirk responsibility and escape accountability.

Therefore – even if there is a whiff of a scam – or the slightest evidence of corruption in an organization – the Top Man must be held responsible, accountable and culpable – and he must resign – or be sacked immediately in order to envisage a fair and speedy investigation.

Before I end – let me tell you that in the Navy of yesteryear – the Captain or Commanding Officer was held responsible for anything and everything on his ship or shore establishment – and if anything went wrong – he was summarily sacked. 

However – even in the Navy and other Services – things have changed now – with the military leadership taking the cue from political and civilian leadership in the art of “management” of corruption.

There are some exceptions – like the erstwhile Navy Chief who resigned taking moral responsibility for accidents/mishaps – but in most cases – very few Senior Officers accept moral responsibility for corruption/wrongdoings happening under their command – they try to save their own skins and tend to pass the blame to their juniors.

So – the Military Top Brass is quick in taking the cue from Politicians and Bureaucrats.

In fact – it would be better of things were the other way around – and the political and civilian leadership imbibed values from the military – and this tradition of taking responsibility be followed by political leadership and civilian bureaucracy.

Whenever corruption or something wrong happens – the “Top Man” must be held accountable and punished – instead of passing on the blame to juniors.


If we wish to eradicate corruption in an organization (or in a country or state) – the only solution seems to be is to have a scrupulously honest leader who is committed and decisive in eradicating corruption and ruthless in punishing the corrupt. 

VIKRAM KARVE
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