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Corruption: An Elephant in the Living Room

Written by  Thangbiaklian Hangzo Published inGeneral Wednesday, 28 February 2018 14:59
Corruption: An Elephant in the Living Room



~ By : Thangbiaklian Hangzo


In a recent social media interaction, I had raised my concern regarding irregularities in how certain ongoing development works were undertaken. As a matter of fact, it was that after a chanced meeting with the Executive Engineer/PWD of Churachandpur, he disclosed, following my query, that some ongoing road constructions were done in advance without a tender being floated or an work order issued. Such practices of flouting procedures amounts to illegal practices without any accountability or fixed parameters to maintain quality standards so required of our development undertakings.


There is a phrase called "an elephant in the living room" which signifies the presence of an issue of concern of which everyone is aware of, but which nobody wants or dares to talk about it because of one reason or the other.


In the instance so mentioned, as I innocently raised my concern regarding the flouting of due procedure in undertaking development works, a certain senior social leader of the community hits back saying, "It is not good to speak ill of things just because it is not your own undertaking. And this will not even enable you to garner more votes in the next election."


To be honest, when I mentioned the irregularities, an election or personal vendetta was very much remote in my mind. I was just raising concern of its irregularities! And to be honest, I had almost forgotten that I was one of the candidates in the 11th Manipur Legislative Assembly Election. However, I am glad that I was reminded of it, or that there were still people who remembered that I had made a tryst.


If we are really serious of developing our land and the people, we cannot continue to do things the way that it was always done, ways that doesn't work. We have to find new ways of doing it. And I believe we have to be brutally honest with ourselves and reflect on how we carry out our socio-political and developmental responsibilities.


A good start for us would be the concept, idea and practice of corruption, in all its varied forms. It is time we stop feigning ignorance or be indifferent about it anymore. Like the proverbial elephant in the living room, it is too big to not notice or ignore.


People often say, "How do we really measure just practices? One that you felt just might felt unjust for others." But wait! Practices like corruption exist because people had flouted and twist existing laws, rules and procedures in our administrative set up. To embrace, recognize and practice those common rules and procedures would be where we have to begin.


And when we talk about corruption, people tend to raise concern of one's moral practice and question their moral authority to judge others. Friends, we have to differentiate between one's individual moral practice and violation of common public rules that affect a whole community or significant portion of it, be it welfare benefits of the under-privilege or public infrastructures like roads, buildings, water supply or market sheds.


One stumbling block, yet again, is our "group prejudice" arising out of our affiliation to certain community, groups or sides. This group prejudice is so detrimental to our endeavour for a just society because our judgement in public matters are greatly marred by our affiliation to a certain group. We do not judge matters on grounds of their rightness within the rules that govern the matter so spoken of or undertaken. We simply justify matters if it were done by "one of us" and discard any parameters that may reflect the irregular practices.


Corruption, dear friends, it is too big a matter to ignore. It is an issue that will drag us generations backwards. It is a problem that trickled the tears of an widow, and starved an orphan. It is a practice that reward and encourage evil for those who benefit, and impoverish the victims and discourage hard and honest labour, destroying our already waning work culture. It is time we shed our divisions aside, stop ignoring, feigning oblivion and drive away the elephant that invades our very living room.

Read 273 times Last modified on Sunday, 18 March 2018 19:50
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