Although corruption has almost always been a disturbing reality in history, there is a lack of a generally acceptable definition of corruption.

A relevant starting point for a discussion on corruption in contemporary world is the 2008 economic crunch which brought forward the notion that bankers not only acted foolishly through risky mortgage, but were also actually involved in criminal acts of secret trade without any record of currency flow through off-shore companies, fraudulent evasion of tax and unlawful contrivance of multiple manipulations.

Also, armies from Nigeria, Kenya, and Egypt (to name a few in a long list) were found indulging in corruption through kickbacks.

Organised crime has witnessed collusion among politicians, police and criminals. The war between contending militias termed as Africa’s ‘First World War’ on account of participation of neighboring states over the mining of gold, diamonds and a rare metal called Columbine–tantalum, in Kivu province of Congo is a well-known case of secret trade and a gross abuse of power for personal gains.

A highly ironic 1990–2000 situation was of Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori who wanted to roll back the corruption network in Peru but ended up perpetuating organised crime, drug dealing, arms trading and corruption.

Again, in Latin America, the government of President Fernando Collar de Mello was a marriage between politics and corruption in Brazil. One of the successors, President Lula Da Silva, was allegedly involved in the bribery scandal “mensalao scandal.”

Japan stands prominent in East Asia, where the Liberal Democratic Party spent out of a huge kitty of Y900 billions of donations mainly given by mafia network known as “yakuza” to contest elections.

Among countries of European Union, Italy has been on the top of the list using corrupt methods to fund political parties.

Very recently, Panama Leaks have opened up a Pandora’s Box naming top echelons of government and ruling classes.

Electronic and print media report every moment of huge community protests when a clandestine activity sees day light. It disturbs the entire peace, discipline and work routine of the state and affects the economy of the state and the earnings of the natives.

The dragon of corruption, in short, is an ongoing story of how evil begets evil.

A. J. Heidenheimer in “Political Corruption” has admitted that defining corruption is difficult. This writer would like to attempt a workable definition of corruption by stating that corruption ranges from a single act of bribery to the moral decay of society.

There is neither “good corruption” nor “bad corruption”. These epithets do not convey any sense or meaning, only redundancy and self-contradiction. Corruption is corruption whether the bribe is meager accepted by a lowly flunkey or misuse of public funds for personal gains by a head of state. Corruption is a criminal act deserving punishment.

Generally, there are 7 basic forms of corruption in which personal enrichment is the common factor: (1) Commission for illicit services, (2) Unwarranted payment for services, (3) Gratuities, (4) String-pulling (5) Levies and tolls, (6) Side-lining and (8) Misapprobation.

Olympics, football and cricket are under serious threat owing to illicit acceptance of money by sportsmen and secret gamblers. Corruption through betting and sports mal-governance can also be added as category 8.

Precisely, the burden falls on the poor. The height of mockery is that a small bribe accepted by a police man is not a pardonable offence while the mafia dons walk scot-free before the eyes of the anti-corruption squads! This discrimination brings an acute sense of inequality in human rights, raising the notorious to the status of honorable and if, meanwhile, he happens to have performed pilgrimage, his soul is baptised, body purified and wealth chastened!

Sarcasm apparent in the above situation, implies an important question: how far is corruption responsible for damaging democratic values, culture, and the system of democracy?

In the context of developing countries the answer is certainly in the affirmative because the corrupt politicians who are either feudal lords or industrial magnates desecrate the sanctity and freedom of the voter by treating him as if he were a slave who accepts remuneration from his master for services rendered. Certainly the survival for the miserable voter is more important than his freedom. Whatever choice he makes, his defeat is hidden therein. He is caught up in the trap of Hobson’s choice.

Above all, how ridiculous is it that the political parties preaching democracy do not practice democratic values and procedures within the sphere of their parties despite six or seven decades have elapsed from their colonial days? Isn’t this shameful!

This state of affairs immediately makes one say that corrupt democracy gives birth to a negative tendency called hypocrisy, which violates public trust and vitiates public opinion.

The consequences of corrupt democracy widen the gulf between the rich and the unprivileged poor. They unleash an assault of profanity on morality. Giving damn to everything, the masters of destiny keep filling their pockets with public money which should have been spent on schools and hospitals while, simultaneously, the corruption–inequality nexus continues burying the hopes and ambitions of the downtrodden.

Although references to Latin American, African and Asian countries have been given, corruption today is nearly a worldwide phenomenon. The big powers like US, Russia and China are as infected with the poison of the dragon of corruption as any other country. As for Pakistan, the matter is sub-judice.

To control corruption, the first measure to be taken up at the level of the UN Anti-Corruption Convention is to strictly prohibit unrecorded business transactions. Encouraged from the performance of the OECD Anti-corruption Convention, elimination of bribery from world trade through legislation is suggested. National and international organised crime must be destroyed with an iron hand. Rolling back corruption from human life will help in control of terrorism also.