Let us reduce greed to stop corruption

By Anil K. Rajvanshi, IANS,

Anna Hazare broke his 12-day fast Aug 28 amid great jubilation at the Ramlila Maidan and elsewhere in the country. Most of the media and some of his associates called it a major victory for fighting corruption while others termed it a shallow one and a circus with no promise of a strong Jan Lokpal Bill in sight. The truth lies somewhere in between.

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Anna’s fast brought into forefront the public anger against corruption – long known but simmering below the surface. It also allowed youth to be a part of a national movement -something they had not done before.

But a sad aspect was the capitulation of a weak and inept governing leadership and its confused response to Hazare’s movement, which, fuelled by media frenzy, was able to dictate and force some sort of action from parliament.

This may open up a Pandora’s Box and similar agitations may force other issues to be passed in hurry in parliament.

The first casualty of corruption is governance. In a democracy, due diligence and debate in parliament is the only way to bring in changes and new laws. Because of lack of governance, parliament has ceased to function in a sensible way and hence the anger and frustration of the people and Team Anna.

I feel corruption cannot be stopped only by making harsher laws. There are already enough laws provided they are implemented properly. A better way is for each to look inwards to reduce greed, which is also creating an unsustainable lifestyle. Most Indians aspire to have a Western lifestyle.

We should reduce our greed by becoming spiritual and follow the maxim of “simple living and high thinking”.

The basis of greed is desire, which manifests itself in lust, aim, ambition, control, and goal. But the driving force is the same – power, fame and money. One of the outcomes of desire is possession. We feel a need to possess whatever we desire — a person, object or idea.

Unfulfilled desires lead to frustration and a need to be more possessive. This leads to more control and greed which is the major cause of corruption.

But desire is a useful and necessary emotion. It allows us to achieve something and be active. What we need to do is to satiate or channel our desires.

A powerful processor or the mind can get its desires fulfilled quite easily without physically possessing the objects of desire as it can effectively evaluate all choices and resolve issues regarding consumptive lifestyle. For example, we can wear only one shirt and one pant at a time – so what is the need to have 100 shirts and pants?

A powerful mind can resolve such issues and help us lead a sustainable lifestyle. But a weaker brain needs to possess a lot more things for fulfilment of desires and this leads to greed.

When one concentrates on a single thought regularly and continuously for a long time, it helps in producing a powerful mind and is the essence of yoga. Such a mind makes us sensitive and humble, changes our priorities and helps us in focussing on getting happiness through mental peace rather than material needs. It also reduces our insecurities and gives us a feeling of calmness, well- being and happiness.

Human beings’ insecurity comes when they have nothing to do. “An empty mind is the devil’s workshop” is an old saying. Activities such as hoarding of wealth and material goods are the result of a shallow mind driven by fear complex of losing out or not having enough.

A powerful and sensitive mind also becomes empathetic and gives rise to the desire to give back something to society and help less fortunate fellow beings.

Creation of a powerful mind should start from childhood when the brain power is at its peak. We should consciously create in our children the desire to read to cultivate the habit of imagination, thinking and contemplation. A small step for a corruption-less society therefore should start with schools.

Though everyone needs to reduce greed, the corporate world has a bigger responsibility. Today they are considered as fuelling corruption by colluding with politicians in land grabbing, shady deals and parking of their ill-gotten wealth abroad.

With its resources and wealth, the corporate world can create conditions for jobs generation and improving quality of life of rural poor.

I therefore feel that when all of us become internally secure and reduce our greed, then we can give something back to society and lay the foundation of a sustainable and corruption-less India.

(25.09.2011 – -Anil Rajvanshi is a scientist and director of the non-profit Nimbkar Agricultural Research Institute, Maharashtra. He can be contacted at [email protected].)