I don’t think anything can be done to eliminate corruption entirely, as long as this planet is inhabited by greedy humans. Corruption at the lower level is tolerable. One can understand why a poorly paid clerk takes a hundred rupees from you to find a missing file, but why should those who earn more than enough for their needs also indulge in corruption? I used to know a terribly greedy engineer who not only charged ten percent on all the bills he approved, he also asked contractors to build his bungalow without paying them the labour charges. Then there was the shameless managing director of a public corporation who had no qualms about pocketing bribes of even five thousand rupees in his office in full view of his staff. A translation of a popular Urdu saying is, “In the national bathroom, everyone is naked”. This describes how deeply entrenched corruption is in our society. Even private sector employees have got into the habit of taking commissions on purchases and contracts.
In a way, we are all responsible for the sleaze. We prefer to take the short cut instead of waiting it out. When our telephone is out of order, we pay the lineman to restore it. We see a long line of people in line waiting for water tankers, so we pay the clerk at the counter a bribe to get water before the others do. The tax inspector sends us a demand for ten times the amount we should pay, so instead of appealing to a higher authority we pay him to reduce the demand. In this way, we only make them more corrupt.
Of course, not everyone who works for the government is corrupt. There are a few good people who don’t take bribes but they are soon transferred to remote areas or put in places where they are useless and not likely to infect others with this disease called “honesty”.