I had just changed some of my American currency into Rupees at the Mumbai airport and tucked the new Indian money away into my wallet. My sponsor told me to keep Rs 500 in my hand because we would need it to pay the policeman at the exit from the parking lot.
The parking lot charges would be Rs 300 and the “special fee” for the guard was Rs 200. The fee was to ensure an expedited exit from the facility. I felt unhappy that one of the first things to do in India was to bribe someone. Fortunately, that was the only direct confrontation with corruption I had in that country. However, the experience colored my otherwise positive perception of the nation.
I checked the watchdog NGO, Transparency International’s lists of least and most corrupt nations. They showed that India is relatively “clean” and not at all in the running for the top five most corrupt places in the world. Those distinctions go to: 1. Somalia 2. Afghanistan/North Korea/Somalia 3. Sudan 4. South Sudan and 5 Libya.
What are the least corrupt nations on Earth? According to Transparency International, they are: 1. Denmark/New Zealand 2. Finland/Sweden 3. Norway/Singapore 4. Switzerland and 5. The Netherlands.
Corruption is a terrible crime found in rich and poor nations. It contributes to poverty, instability, and drives afflicted countries towards state failure. Overwhelming evidence shows that corruption disproportionately hurts poor people. Economic development in corrupt nations is hampered because direct investment money is syphoned off by organized crime and dishonest officials. Investors find that “start-up” costs are too high because of this drain.
In 2003, The United Nations General Assembly designated each December ninth as International Anti-Corruption Day. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) intends to raise the awareness of the serious nature of corruption and how we can fight and halt it.
The 2015 joint campaign’s focus is about how corruption undermines democracy and rule of law. The UNODC and the UN Development Programme hope for public awareness as to how corruption leads to market distortion, lower quality of life, organized crime, terrorism, and other ills caused by inequality.
Symptoms of corruption include law-breaking, bribery, unfair election processes, and the silencing of whistleblowers. The use of positions of trust and political power for unethical goals is at the heart of the problem. When officials fall under the sway of corruption, a national “climate” of criminal behavior develops unabated. A nation’s behavior devolves into dishonest power struggles and monetary gain.
The United Nations intends that this observance will help bring about ways to combat and prevent corruption at all levels. This is the day to discover what we, as individuals, can do to help in this effort.