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  • Print publication year: 2016
  • Online publication date: July 2017

1 - Issues in Corruption: Theoretical and Empirical

Summary

The rent seeking behaviour of individuals tends to gain momentum in a society with stringent regulations. In a free economy it is usually feared that the individual's choice to decide what is good or bad for himself may involve substantial conflicts of interest and thus there is the need for interventions and regulations. But ironically regulations empower a selected few who then in turn earn a rent using their position and power to render benefit or impose punishment by distorting facts or mitigate penalty by suppressing part of the unlawful activities. Of course in a society without regulation individuals may harm each other to serve their own interests leading to pure chaos and therefore there could be a genuine need for economic policy. So determining an optimal mix of freeness and regulation is perhaps the biggest challenge that a society faces in order to keep itself at a safe distance from chaos and at the same time not allowing regulations to corrupt its members.

Why people take recourse to unfair means is an age old question, bothering thinkers to find an easy solution with an effective strategy to curb this tendency. The simplest answer perhaps lies in the fact that some, if not many, have a tendency to experience gains more than proportionate to their efforts or endowments they have. And in order to materialize this they often stoop down to take recourse to corrupt means of bribing. Religion takes the route of fear to caution while spiritualism reminds the transitory satisfaction that material wealth can offer and the negativity that the mind develops by cultivating the desire to receive disproportionate gains. All this, however, does not have an effect on those who do not believe in preaching. Hence, there is the need for a body to punish the greedy, be it through law or any other entity.

A more hazardous situation appears when one individual does not believe in corruption but another believes and the latter stands on his way until the former compromises. Of course the former can take a strong stand and get prepared for any dire consequence that may come in his way rather than succumbing to the pressure applied by the corrupt.