Corruption as Overlooked Threat to National Security

Kathmandu, August 19


Corruption can broadly be defined as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. Corruption ranges from the broad term of misuse of power and authority to moral decay. In simple terms, corruption may be described as an act of bribery or the use of public power for private profits that constitutes a serious breaches the rule of law.

Corruption and National Security

The broader and comprehensive national security concept encompasses various security concerns including and most important concept -- human security. In contemporary defense doctrine, military security defends the nation from external threats but human security corresponds to defense of nation from internal threats as national stability depends on each individual having their security guaranteed. Human security covers wider areas including people’s right to a secure environment in which they live and get access to jobs in preserving the quality of life in the society. Human security is a holistic concept to be achieved via entering different security aspects related to individual security. While considering human security, corruption and poverty are detrimental to human security and national development.

Corruption has become a chronic disease posing grave threats to human security resulting in the creation of inequalities and widening the gap between rich and poor. It challenges rule of law, transparency, accountability and good governance and disturbs the basic fabric of social harmony by creating deficit of trust in the society, thereby posing serious threat to national security.

In addition, corruption provides the breeding ground for the flourishing of largely internal threats to national security adding complex security challenges that most of the developing countries are facing at present, including Nepal. When corruption becomes endemic, it undermines state capacity and legitimacy and thereby inflames grievances linked to many forms of conflicts.

Nepali Context

Governments all over the world, particularly those in developing countries, have common realisation that threats to national security are more likely from internal than external sources, Nepal cannot be an exception to which. Corruption is recognised as one of the chief causes behind Nepal’s underdevelopment. This is really a great challenge to the campaign of modern Nepal. It is a complex and multifaceted phenomena with multiple causes and effects, as it takes on various forms and functions in different contexts.

Over the passing of almost three decades after the restoration of democracy in Nepal, we have seen significant institutional development in the political sphere of the country but corruption has been so rampant that unfortunately we have been witnessing the corrupt people enjoying political power, property and even honour.

Corruption, like an anti-social virus, pervades the world in different forms and developing countries view this problem as an incurable social disease. A

As a developing country, Nepal is not immune to the impact of corruption. On the contrary, corruption has taken a firm hold in Nepali society having significant negative impact on the socio-cultural value system at large.

Anti-corruption efforts

In many parts of the world, corruption has made a successful journey causing increased poverty unbounded. The most detestable factor we have come across at present is that politics has lost its whole set of essence and ethos. Politics has become a major industry or business for leader in power, wherein the wealth generated by power would bring more power and subsequently more wealth in a cyclic way. The major causes behind increasing corruption are lack of political will to tackle corruption and poor implementation of anti-corruption laws and policies at the right place and in the right time. Likewise politicisation of crime and criminalisation of politics and a poor institutional integrity against tackling corruption also contribute to corruption.

Now the question is - how to curb corruption. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ model of anti-corruption approach. A common starting point is that an anti-corruption commission should come forward in implementing anti-corruption laws and policies effectively taking into account  the unity of efforts of all factions of society including the state mechanism. To this end, the major impediment to curbing graft in Nepal is poor institutional integrity and a policy deficiency in strengthening the national integrity system.

Over the past decades, Singapore and Hong Kong in this regard, have demonstrated the political will to curb corruption. At a latter phase, Indonesia has been able to pull off a similar success story. As has been shown by Singapore, Hong Kong and Indonesia, curbing corruption in Nepal should not be an impossible dream; but it does require the sustained commitment of political leaders and many of the stakeholders from different walks of life including a vibrant civil society.

However, the irony is that there seem no indications yet of where the country is heading towards at that end. Moreover, political leaders are focusing their efforts on creating a culture of ‘SETTING’ at inter-party or intra-party level, sharing their own vested interests in such a way that no corruption at any level can be disclosed publicly. It's has come down to a point that no one should cut-in-surprise if people come forward down to the streets to punish the corrupt leaders and bring them to the people's verdict and forward their movement to the extent of challenging the existing system. Because only viable option left to battle corruption now is to have integrated approach to synergise all possible efforts of people from different walks of life.

Concluding Remarks

Corruption is an issue in public debates and everyday conversation in many countries. To tackle this social evil, in the case of Nepal, it is the people who need to be aware to the extent that they should not hesitate to boycott the corrupt people culturally and socially in the process of preserving ethical values in the society.

Because, effective implementation of anti-corruption legislation, proper check and balance and together with popular support, nothing is impossible to curb the corruption and provide good governance necessary for the development of the country.

Daman B Ghale is a retired Major General in the Nepali Army