From the Editor-in-Chief: When corruption is endemic . . .

Enayetullah Khan
Thursday, July 6th, 2017
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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has warned government officials against corruption, which is just as well. At a meeting of secretaries of the various ministries on Sunday, she issued as many as thirteen directives aimed at preventing corruption and making it possible for the government to go ahead with implementing its development programmes. The warning to the bureaucrats, let it be noted, was timely and appropriate.

 

But now we must also observe the bigger picture, which is that corruption is a cancer which affects not only government officials but other sectors of society as well. Many have been the tales in the past of politicians enriching themselves through a blatant misuse of power, to a point where they have amassed huge property for themselves where earlier they had hardly any such resources of their own. Add to that the corruption which pervades even the teaching sector, where bribery in order to come by promotions or satisfactory transfers is not uncommon. And in these past many years, there have been reports of the gross irregularities which occur in the case of appointments to the police force. There are other areas of corruption as well, such as the tendency on the part of a section of doctors to ignore their responsibilities in government hospitals and instead focus on what is essentially more lucrative private practice. In the matter of tenders, one hardly needs to be reminded of the gross criminality which has infested the system. Again, when student leaders are seen to become owners of vast property, despite having no jobs or resources, perfectly legitimate questions arise about the venality which corrodes the socio-political system in the country.

 

Corruption, in other words, has historically been a wide-ranging act in our part of the world. The difference between the past and now, however, is that the extent to which corruption has become endemic in our society is something we did not experience in earlier times. The relevant authorities as well as society itself were always ready to pounce on instances of corruption. That situation has changed. And that can only mean that we in Bangladesh are today in grave need of a powerful, concentrated effort towards rolling back corruption. That campaign must come from those who practise politics and exercise power.

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