Tuesday, February 24, 2015


Some asked me: “Will increasing salaries of government employees reduce corruption?” 
In response, I said: “The opposite will happen. If you increase salaries  the size of the bribe will proportionately increase too – so corruption will actually go up.” 
Here is an extract from one of my lectures on ETHICS which I used to deliver more than 20 years ago, in the 1990s.

Musings on Ethics

When I joined the Navy almost 39 years ago  many of us confused rank, position and status with ethical and moral standards.

We thought that if an officer had high rank then it could automatically be assumed that he was honest and had high integrity.

Sometimes, it was exactly the opposite.

We young officers were naive and idealistic.

We assumed that just because an officer had been promoted to high rank it could be ipso facto presumed that he had high moral values and ethical standards.

As years passed – after seeing a number of senior military officers embroiled in scams, scandals, moral turpitude and caught indulging in unethical activities – we realized that our presumption linking ethics and rank was wrong.

We realized that status and position should not be confused for standards of morality.

This is true in the civilian world as well.

The honesty and integrity of a person is in no way correlated with his intellectual development or his position in the hierarchy or material factors like wealth, rank, seniority, status, success. 

Almost every day we see news about high ranking politicians, bureaucrats, military officers and other “distinguished persons with high status and in top positions getting embroiled in Scams and indulging in unethical activities.

Have you not read news about even the most intellectually gifted persons (like Vice Chancellors of Universities) getting embroiled in corrupt activities? 

Some people think that government employees are corrupt because they get low salaries.

They feel that if you increase salaries of government employees then corruption will disappear.

Tell me – has corruption gone down after every pay commission when a hefty increase in salaries and perks is given to all government employees?

Actually – corruption has gone up.

This is because with every salary increase – the size of the bribes have also gone up proportionally.

Corruption has got nothing to do with the salary a person earns – because honesty is a personal value depending on your upbringing and does not depend on the wealth you possess.

Are all the wealthy persons totally honest?

A quote by Alexander Orlov sums it up in a nutshell:

“Honesty and Loyalty may be often more deeply ingrained in the make-up of simple and humble people than in men of high position. 

A man who was taking bribes when he was a constable does not turn honest when he becomes the Chief of Police; the only thing that changes is the size of the bribe. 

Weakness of character and inability to withstand temptation remains with the man no matter how high he climbs.” 

This saying is true  isnt it? 

A persons Values and Ethical traits accompany a man to the highest rungs of his career.

You see so many poor persons who are honest – and you see so many rich people who are corrupt. 

This is because whether a person becomes corrupt or not depends on his values and not on his needs.

It is values that make a man corrupt more than needs.

Also, in today’s world corruption has no social stigma. 
A corrupt man who is rich gets more respect in society than a poor man who is honest.
That is why  you must not confuse financial prosperity, social status or career position for standards of morality and ethics.
An individual’s outward status has got nothing to do with his inner values.

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This is an extract of my lecture on Ethics written be me Vikram Karve 20 years ago in the 1990s and posted online earlier in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal Blog on 19 Nov 2010 at url: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2010/11/business-ethics-part-3-moral.html

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