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Machhapuchre Bank

Corruption: Systemic

Had the newly rich Japanese entering the jumbo jet era not tangled with the dominant American aviation industry themselves involved in their country’s powerful defense establishment, the issue of corruption would not perhaps have tumbled the Liberal Democratic Party from power in the post-War period. Suggestions that corruption lubricated development were prevalent in development theories until powerful defense lobbies found themselves outdoing themselves brought the issue of commissions to the fore to the cost of the LDP. If commissions lubricated purchase as in that case, the overt suggestion that it should not brought in new demands of transparency in audits and accounts which in latter years fuelled the conclusion that corruption does hinder development too. The focus on transparency is, however, easier in developed societies than ours. There are historical reasons for this.
Firstly Western societies where the concept of people’s sovereignty evolved in its modern framework identified the private citizen officially earlier. In doing so the state could also locate as mandatory the economic identification of the citizen. Anything that exceeded the official identification of the individual’s declared incomes, expenses and liquid and fixed assets allowed an authorized state to legally question the source. The identification of corruption is facilitated there from. In the Nepali case, which escaped Western trends to identify the colonial individuals and their economy, the citizen is yet to be accurately identified as a bonafide individual as the continual quest of defining our citizenry in the political sector attest. As a still agrarian, impoverished state taxation was traditionally land-based and not citizen based on the concept of income and asset census is merely a recent and borrowed innovation continually sabotaged by the political process. Even Prithwi Narayan Shah has had to acknowledge the existence of corruption three centuries ago when he defined that both the bribe giver and bribe taker were guilty by law of corruption. After all it was corruption that doomed the traditional Chinese state which developed the bureaucratic state that was corrupted by colonial victors through the opium trade.
Without doubt corruption enfeebles Nepal to existential extents today. That it is systemic is easily identifiable. That it has an all-pervasiveness encouraged by the very masters of the polity is now no longer in doubt. What is in doubt however is whether any systemic change, as now widely understood and advocated, will root this out. Corruption, after all, is good issue for politics at first but must be ultimately rooted out through legal means and the legal machinery is itself tampered with as we are wont to accept. One key reason why King Gyanendra was made to fail in his role as protector of the constitution is evinced in the degree of opposition he faced in attempts to quarter the political leadership. The very instrument he chose to do so with, the Royal Commission was scrapped as unconstitutional. After all, the politicians have very willing partners in the bureaucracy and legal machinery and that is why there is corruption. Inevitable as the coming systemic crunch is, what next in fast becoming the major public concern now. The king should be allowed no room for failure anymore.

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