Tuesday, December 17, 2013


Here is a post I had written a few years ago, once more, as it still seems relevant:


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 cannot escape culpability and he must be held accountable for corruption in the organisation which he heads. 

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


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 - the leader initiates corruption.


A corruption “system” (systemic corruption) may already be in place in an organisation 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 organisation on deputation. 

He had not served in that organisation 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”


The top man knows that there is corruption going on in his organisation but turns a blind eye to the corruption.

He looks the other way and 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”.   


The top man is so incompetent that he does not know what is going on in his organisation and is ignorant and clueless about the corruption happening in his organisation.

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 organisation, then he is not fit to head the organisation and must be sacked on grounds of incompetence.


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 organisation because:

It is the top man who:

1. Initiates the corruption

2. Is Involved in the corruption

3. Turns a Blind Eye to the corruption and let’s the corruption happen unhindered

4. Is Clueless about the corruption going on in his organisation 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 an organisation.

When a scam happens or corruption is prevalent in an organisation, 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 organisation, the top man must be held responsible, accountable and culpable and 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.

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. 

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. 
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
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A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer and blogger. Educated at IIT Delhi, IIT (BHU) Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and an anthology of short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional  and academic research papers in journals and edited in-house journals and magazines for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing and blogging. Vikram Karve lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

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