Expert Opinion

Does Power Really Corrupt People?—- A brief study on Corruption and the “Hubris Syndrome”


In this world, where there are already so many issues that have made people’s lives complicated; among these, corruption is now hashtag one trending. It is often said by the sociologists that corruption is a disease that takes birth in our mind first, then spreads through our activities like branches of a tree, gets growing and growing. What I actually mean that a serious problem like corruption is nowhere going and will be staying with us till this world comes to an end. From the very inception of human race and civilization; corruption simply appeared and started growing its roots into the minds and fabric of every human society. Acting accordingly, soon also found its target and locus. People vested with power and authority have all time fallen its soft prey and there is no doubt. But before we make any assumption, let’s first logically look into it. The noun corruption comes from Latin — com, meaning “with, together,” and rumpere, meaning “to break.” Thus it stands, “Breaking together” such as laws, customs and code of conduct of an organisation or society-state. It is such a malady that first develops guilt in the person then simply turns into habit. In an exceptional case, it gets chronic and may leads to several other psychological syndromes in the person as well. Issues like corruption shouldn’t be seen or assessed as a particular or individual type problem but as a mass general problem. No offense, if we say it basically spreads through influence or propaganda. Awareness is its enemy and Ignorance its friend. Societies and nations become corrupted when the common people or its citizens either starts promoting it or silently resists it. Individual lives get badly affected for sure and there prevails complete anarchism in the society. Critics and political experts today are still fighting amongst each other for proving the relevancy and aptness between Democratic and Autocratic format of government aimed for better tackling corruption and public order management. Here, question pops up generally, is it really possible that only government can better deal in annihilating or solving a crisis issue like corruption from the society? Well, it has many roundabout answers. An autocratic form of government is often said to be the worst for tackling corruption in the society. History is evident that whenever a dictator or autocrat comes to the power; they first destroy the claim of liberty and justice from the civic society and then ultimately arbitrary factors like corruption, extortion and serfdom starts damaging the machinery of the state. Yes, power do make an individual corrupt and there are many instances. Saddam Hussein, the infamous dictator and the fifth Iraqi president after coming to the power lost his mind and left no stones unturned to prove his might over the masses of Iraq as well as the world. Idi Amin, the notorious Ugandan ruler cum president from 1971-1979, just after reaching to the heights of power had abolished the system of justice and democracy completely from there and also very infamous for not sparing his rivalries and protestors either from his barbaric tortures or from death trails. Later he earned the title “Butcher of Uganda” for all his inhuman killings and savagery caused in his tenure. Adolf Hitler, Mussolini, Kim II Sung, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong their names are also counted in the list when we talk about world’s most despotic corrupted leaders. Now, it’s the democratic or republican form of government which still many supports and consider effective for controlling corruption issues. An ideal republic is said to be that nation where the common public is being venerated and considered as the supreme and final of all authorities. But only few countries in this world perhaps follow this.The first world developed countries like USA, UK, Canada, France, Japan, Australia, Germany can be looked upon as models of “Ideal Republics”. But to an extent it’s not true that all these countries, as they claim has championed or somehow overcome the challenges of corruption or second hand business system. In reality, it is not possible and cannot be achieved. It’s a philosophical fact that human lives are inherently flawed and there would be always collision and differences between people. Unity and harmony cannot be achieved here permanently, on this earth either by thoughts, dogmas or by imposing strict laws; as every human being think different, feel different, act different from one another. Here, each life is unusual and opposite in quality, profession, appearance . Duality is the guiding force of this world. If there is good then there must be bad. Positivity and Negativity, both the infinite forces are evident here and influence lives, matters, politics, propaganda, religion, rituals and relations. Corruption is such a legit universal problem that cannot be finished entirely or completely but can be lessened or keep it in control. So, we often get to see in records that the rate of corruption and illegalities in the developed countries are less and in control but is not nil or defunct. Where there is alarming rate of 90% we can surely bring it down to 10% or even 1% but not to 0% and that’s the fact. Loopholes would be always there in a system and the lawbreakers know how to make it out and use it for their ill means. So, until or unless the majority of the population of a country gets totally aware or concerned; it’s a difficult job for the government as well as the administration to tackle and fight better sensitive issues like corruption. Developing and Underdeveloped countries are the worst sufferers of corruption. Most of the Sub-Asian and African countries are still badly fighting with corruption and its growing roots in their civic societies. It would be sheer foolishness if we consider their governments only responsible for the failure in tackling corruption issues. Public, alongside is responsible too. I’ve told earlier above that Ignorance is its friend or say its aid (fertilizer); whenever there is ignorance in the public, corruption ultimately starts building its network over the system. The only way to beat corruption, crimes and adulteration is spreading awareness. In this age of internet and cyber technology, it has become much easier to expose scandals, scams, illegalities in public that are operating in between us. The leaders of democratic parties are well expert in managing and handlig corruption deals so swiftly and cunningly that one might ever catch it that easily. That’s why we often find the executive heads of various political parties either get caught red handed by the investigating agencies or get exposed by media sting operations. In totalitarian countries, nobody even dare to speak against the inception of corruption either in fear of punishment and death sentence or just because his/her right of speech and expression is withdrawn by the regime. But in democratic countries we can’t just expect the same. Despite of having all the democratic rights and info mediums; sometime public worries to ventilate a single objection against the authority and even happily tolerate the blows and harms reaching to them daily just because of that unbalanced governance system and existing corruption in the society. In case, if somebody bravely lashes out the role of government / party in power in regard to any illegal case or business; later, he/she been targeted and receive attacks by the booked miscreants or intentionally get charged with various fake allegations by the authority. It is really unfortunate today that democracy in such third world countries has now being taken granted all over by the cheap and mean politicians, mafias and corporates. Sorry to say but that’s the truth. People of those countries do have to face attacks and life threats whenever they try to criticise the government blatantly. The common people choose their leaders using their voting right, send them to the Assembly for serving them wisely and later on, these very representatives turn on cheating those innocent people who have brought him to the power and deprive them from getting the benefits of all necessary and voluntary government services. Researchers and political experts consider this as a typical emotional condition better known as the “Hubris Syndrome”. It is a condition where the behaviour of politicians, business leaders, and other people in power, changes for the worse as they come to enjoy increasing power and influence. The syndrome causes certain changes to the brains of these leaders which in turn makes them suffer from a number of undesirable qualities; including losing touch with reality, taking excessive pride in their actions, displaying lesser empathy towards other people, and taking arrogant decisions or actions without sufficient thought. The term was coined by former British Foreign Secretary David Owen, who has studied behavioural changes in various world leaders, in his 2007 book by the same name. The victims of this syndrome are the persons who are vested with administrative powers and authorities in the society. Now, focusing on the point, is it the power that actually corrupts an individual? Or is it the individual that use power to promote corruption? The answer of both the question is same that “it varies from person to person”. In layman’s terms, an individual or a person after coming to the power decides what way and where he would use his powers and authorities. He may use it wisely or wickedly. Both are possible. But in maximum cases we only find the abuse of power and authorities. There are also other factors that actually convinces that situations and surroundings plays a big role in producing corrupted persons. some studies say that when an individual climbs to the power being nominated or by his own will; he then get greatly amazed by the presence and stocks of innumerable wealth assets belongs to the state and that are usually restored in the state treasury; he starts losing his control and in greed starts stealing and looting that wealth (which are actually of the public) either for himself or for the party fund by using his unconstitutional powers; later on which drastically affects the budgetary and taxation system of the entire state. Moreover, It mainly happens in a democratic country where corruption is being done in a larger smarter way; in an organised network system. From the root level to the higher level; everyone receives a share of their part.; a businessman or an industrialist wants to build a factory or a manufacturing hub on a sealed area which is not for sale or comes under a protected biodiversity spot. But he gets succeeded in it and guess how it is possible? With the help of bribe and cut-money he owns not only that land but the local leaders, civil servants, police administration, ministers and the big media houses. The scam comes to the limelight when any responsible citizen, or activist or a rebel journalist take a stand by filing petition to the court, sharing the news on social and electronic medias, making public aware about that felony. Trillions of instances are there but few needs to be mentioned here: Assam’s Dehing Patkai, which is a rich biodiversity hotspot has been sold to a private coal mining company by the Assam government for commercial coal excavation without thinking for a single time about the lives of wild animals, the rich flora and fauna and local habitat. This shows the notoriety and scandalous side of the individuals in power. Mollem National Park Scandal of Goa, Jacunda Amazon forest reserve burn of 2019, Harshad Mehta 1992 Scam, Bernard Madoff and Enron – 2008 – Total Scammed US$64.8 Billion, Charles Ponzi and the Ponzi Scheme – 1920 – Total Scammed US$20 Million are some recent and greatest scams of all time that shows how people in power can jeopardize the entire system and carry out scams and corruptions for some bundles of money. Next is the list is of world’s 10 most all time infamous corrupted politicians:
Name Position Funds embezzled2

  1. Mohamed Suharto
    President of Indonesia (1967?1998) $15?35 billion
  2. Ferdinand Marcos
    President of the Philippines (1972?1986) 5?10 billion
  3. Mobutu Sese Seko
    President of Zaire (1965?1997) 5 billion
  4. Sani Abacha President of Nigeria (1993?1998) 2?5 billion
  5. Slobodan Milosevic
    President of Serbia/Yugoslavia (1989?2000) 1 billion
  6. Jean-Claude Duvalier
    President of Haiti (1971?1986) 300?800 million
  7. Alberto Fujimori
    President of Peru (1990?2000) 600 million
  8. Pavlo Lazarenko Prime Minister of Ukraine (1996?1997) 114?200 million
  9. Arnoldo Alemn President of Nicaragua (1997?2002) 100 million
  10. Joseph Estrada President of the Philippines (1998?2001) 78?80 million

    Last but not the least, our world is advancing at horse rate so do the mindset of the common people. The chances of forgery, illegal broking, scams and corruptions are also increasing and getting smarter day by day. For that we need a well-built dynamic upgraded intellect to counter these issues or it will always hamper us and the system. We also need to make sure that the system and governance should be always constituted with wise and educated individuals otherwise duffers and criminals are always ready to mess it up. Jai hind!
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