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12 September, 2019 00:00 00 AM


Corruption and development challenges

Corruption obviously exists in all societies, but it is also obviously more common in some societies than in others
Corruption and development challenges

Every year citizens around the globe lose trillions of dollars in bribery, government malfeasance, and other forms of corruption. The problem is now recognized as one of the greatest challenges for economic and social development, diverting inadequate funds from millions of poor household as well as starving many countries of infrastructure, education, and other critical investments due to corruption. Corruption is a universal phenomenon. It is not only a problem of our country; it is also an international problem which requires international solution. In the past, the ancient civilizations clearly demonstrate that bribery was a serious problem among the Jews, Chinese, Japanese, Greeks, Romans, Indian and so on. In this subcontinent, corruption was evident during the British rule in India. Corruption obviously exists in all societies, but it is also obviously more common in some societies than in others and more common at some times in the evolution of a society than at other times. Impressionistic evidence suggests that its extent correlates reasonably well with rapid social and economic development.

Corruption may be more prevalent in some cultures than in others but in most cultures, it seems to be most prevalent during the most intense phases of development. Development also contributes to corruption by creating new sources of wealth and power, the relation of which to politics is undefined by the dominant traditional norms of the society and on which the modern global digital norms are not yet accepted by the dominant groups within the society. It encourages corruption by the changes it produces on the output side of the political system. Development involves the expansion of governmental authority and the multiplication of the activities subjected to governmental regulation. Corruption is, of course, one measure of the absence of effective political institutionalisation; public officials lack autonomy and coherence and subordinate they're institutionally rolled to exogenous demands.

Corruption is thus a product of the distinction between public welfare and private interest which comes  with development. Corruption in this sense is a direct product of the rise of new groups with new resources and the efforts of these groups to make them effective within the political sphere. With a general view, it is seen that corruption is bred from development and modernization. "According to Huntington’s approach, every system with an intense and fast modernization is open to corruption. The differences in the level of corruption which may exist between the modernized and politically developed societies of the Atlantic world and those of Latin America, Africa, and Asia in large part reflect their differences in political modernization e.g. political development.”

Here, million dollars question arise, why does development breed corruption? Three connections stand out. First, development involves a change in the basic values of the society. In particular, it means the gradual acceptance by groups within the society of universalistic and achievement-based norms. The emergence of loyalties and identification of individuals and groups with the nation-state, and the spread of the assumption that citizens have equal rights against the state and equal obligation to the state, these norms usually, of course, are first accepted by students. On the other hand, military officers and others who have been exposed to them abroad. Such groups then begin to judge their own society by these new and alien norms. It is said, when the leaders of military juntas and revolutionary movements condemn the corruption in their societies, they are, in effect, feel lack of development, and condemning the backwardness of their societies. It is, in many developing countries, easier for an able and ambitious young man to become a cabinet minister by way of politics than to become a millionaire by way of business. Consequently, contrary to American practice, developing countries may accept as normal widespread use of public office to obtain private wealth while at the same time taking a sticker view of the use of private wealth to obtain public office.   

Corruption itself may be a substitute for development reform and both corruption and development reform may be substituted for revolution. Corruption saves to reduce group pressures for policy changes just as reform serves to reduce class pressures for structural changes. In most forms corruption involves an exchange of political action for economic wealth. The particular forms that will be prevalent in society depend upon the ease of access to one as against the other. In the United States, wealth has more commonly been a road to political influence than political office has been a road to wealth. The rules against using public office to obtain private profit are much stricter and more generally obeyed than those against using private-wealth to obtain public office.

Corruption is, as we have seen, a product of development and particularly of the expansion of political consciousness and political participation. According to Taylors, “Politics is the main route to power, which, in turn, is the main route of wealth… More money can be made in a shorter time with the aid of political influence than by any other means’’. In modern liberal democratic society, the principal purpose of politics becomes not the achievement of public goals but the promotion of individual interests. Just the corruption produced by the expansion of political participation, which helps to integrate new groups into the political system, so also the corruption produced by the expansion of governmental regulation may help stimulate economic growth and development. Corruption naturally tends to weaken or to perpetuate the weakness of the government bureaucracy, in this respect, it is incompatible with political development. At times, however, some forms of corruption can contribute to political development by helping to strengthen political parties. Corruption requires some recognition of the differences between public role and private interest. According to S. Huntington, “if the culture of the society does not distinguish between the king’s role as a private person and the king’s role as king it is impossible to accuse the king of corruption in the use of public monies.”

Corruption is a complex multifaceted social phenomenon with innumerable manifestations. It takes place as an outcome of deficiencies in the existing public administration apparatuses and systems as well as cultural, economic, and political and social factors.

However, it should not be necessary that development is the pioneer of corruption. The reduction of corruption, in the long run, requires the re-organization and re-structuring of that participation. Political parties are the principal institution of liberal democratic politics which can perform this function. If political institutionalization is not possible after development, this type of development will corrupt the political system and it would be the fearsome challenges for future.

  The writer is a researcher, Faculty of Social Science,

University of Dhaka and can be reached at



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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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