Business Times

Role of citizens in challenging corruption
By Damith Kurunduhewa

A father comes home in the evening from his office. His little son is now curious to see what his father has brought him at this time around. The father pulls out a sealed bundle of A4 typing sheets from his brief case and hands it over to his son and says, ‘This is for you. You can do lots of drawings’. The energized lad innocently asks the father – ‘Dad, from where did you buy this for me?’ The father casually replies. ‘I need not to buy it; I brought it home from my office’.

Corruption in all spheres of society
This is a new series focussing on how corruption affects all our lives in whatever sphere of activity – local government, education and school admissions, employment, government agencies, private sector, and so on.

The cancer of corruption has been in the system for decades and costs billions of rupees to the people and the country.

This series will look at some of these issues and how as citizens we could fight the system. Comments are welcome to the author or Business Editor at

Like all corrupt people, this father too believes that his son will learn creative drawing by using what he gifted to the boy. But, the son only learns the first lesson of corruption. As Dorothy Law Nolte - PhD said, ‘Children learn what they live’.

Today, we live in a carefree and slackly woven culture where corruption is steadily becoming an accepted, barefaced way of life. Be it a family, office, business, social forum, development drive or a governing initiative – the entire stream is polluted by this devastating plague – corruption - thus wounding and bleeding the nucleus of the national fabric in its definitive analysis.

Moral Corruption
The seeds and vibes of corruption stem out mainly owing to diluted spiritual ideals, deficiency of ethical values and flaws in model parenting - more than by inherent genetic influence. Yet, in contrast to their inner fragility, a majority of such corrupt people vociferously burst out with strong superficial validations to cover-up dishonesty and duplicity. Like in any other illicit domain, the corruption first happens inside a deceptive mind. When it is committed by the possessor of that mind in the reality, it essentially is a ‘second time’ occurrence. It therefore is a plain result of spiritual unrefinement and emotional contamination that pilots us to breed immoral personal values over an epoch of time.

Behavioural Corruption
People who are receptive and willingly implant the vicious seeds of corruption – eventually thrust their motives to convert the disgraceful notion to a self beneficial motion. Thus, deceptive words and scandalous actions begin to emerge from the individual. At the initial stages, such people might not completely be at ease due to the interior cacophony at some degree. Nevertheless, finally they get habituated and harmonized to think - plan – promote - execute and enjoy corruption. Similar to kids, adults too learn what they live. The difference is that the children happen to live and learn the bad coincidentally – and the adults choose to learn and live in the worst - on purpose.

At this stage, such people find psychological synchronization to accept corruption as customary privileges, and also muster behavioural techniques (of pretense) to appear unsuspectingly normal in public. But they slowly but certainly poison the contemporary and upcoming social streams - and its moral values beyond painless restoration.

Facets of Corruption
The bandwidth of corruption spreads to wider spectrums. It begins with the illicit use, misuse and abuse of financial resources, intellectual assets, fixed physical assets, variable material assets, authority and service lines. In simplified terms - the pilfering of cash, ideas & knowledge thievery, property frauds, stealing of stocks and inventory, supply chain frauds, manipulation of funds & accounts, giving and taking bribes, and offering or demanding sexual favours in exchange of opportunity, etc do form the basic umbrella of corruption. Some avoid contributing to match their salaries and some draw pensions for functional responsibilities they never held authentically. Thus, the corruption in any community – indicated either in the open or close door circumstances - never present buoyant and prolific landscape.

Role of Citizens
If a person is scam friendly and doesn’t feel ashamed about it - and primed to walk lengths of distance to appear dirt free – then no amount of writing, mentoring and even objecting will stop such people, unless the law interferes efficiently. If our wisdom cannot resist the sparkling temptations of corruption as they sprout out - and if we lack courage to decline the companionship of clusters that indulge in corruption, then we can only become stained names and split personalities. Thus, the first step in challenging corruption must occur within us - as a soul searching inward odyssey. That is the primary role of each citizen in this realm.

If we cannot defend our own minds against corruption and negate the embryo growing within us – in the end we inject the killer germ in to our family, work place, community and to our country. The elevation of ‘purity altitude’ in each of us decides our true influence upon challenging corruption at every stratum. When we conquer the ‘self-corruptive challenges’, the next in line is to drive our own families to emulate the gracious practice of honourable living.

If we are corrupt within, while conduiting our family too in it - then making a noisy blare to challenge corruption at the school, office, club, business, society and the nation is nothing more than hollow talk show. We never can deliver meaningful and tangible results.
As we climb up the ladder in any ambience – either we can fight to cleanse it great or exploit the prospect to corrupt it grandly. The restful inaction and dodging to challenge corruption (like many of us are contented to do) – in fact is roundabout support for the growth and sustainability of the ever enlarging menace.

That surely is the path of best convenience, but it never creates a corridor of conscience. Challenging corruption (outwardly) seems difficult, but it can be done – and it must be done. Our little efforts surely will count. As the great Martin Luther King steadfastly voiced, ‘The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in the moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at the times of challenge and controversy.’ The choice is yours and mine. !!!

The writer is an enterprise risk management specialist, a performance trainer, a concerned parent and a conscious citizen. He can be reached at

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