Social ostracism could be a potent tool to control corruption in the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. It could complement the laws in capping the runaway financial terrorism. The wayward bandits seem to have lost the fear of the laws alone as evident by scores of media reports of mushrooming corruption.
Indeed, in old Nepal, public servants did not indulge in frivolous corruption. The laws seemingly acted fast to break the corrupt’s back. I still remember the crestfallen face of a family friend, an elderly pundit from the outskirts of Bhaktapur, who earned a quick dismissal from service for asking five rupees as a bribe from a service seeker.
‘Kazi, I just took that darn five, and they threw me out,’ he rued. Holed up in our house, he was contemplating to come up with a plausible explanation to offer his family for quitting his job. Thanks to his luck, he got away without having his name and photograph published in the Gorkhapatra daily.
People were careful of their conduct to avoid becoming a media sensation and to face the unpalatable consequences. At least two high-profile envoys could not save their jobs nor avoid being media stories.
One’s son undid his father, and the other one undid himself through shoplifting unintentionally.
Then, people held their image and reputation above money.
Many people eschewed loans from the bank for fear of their names coming out in the defaulter’s list in the media. An acquaintance joked that his partner, a majority shareholder in a hotel on a Dhulikhel slope, desperately tried to transfer his shares to his household help to stop his name flashing in public.
He had been a repeat minister and was still pinning his hopes for another stint in the changed political milieu post- 2000. Unfortunately, his household help smelled a rat and declined the generosity.
Like the present-day politicians, the former minister had land holdings all over the valley rim where he aspired to build a chain of hotels. He could serve as an example for the current politicians who want to invest their new-found riches in tourism, aviation, hospitality, land plotting, goat farming and sundry other industries.
In India, social ostracism discourages the potential corrupts.
Years ago, a government secretary committed suicide after tearfully wailing his innocence in vain in the media.
Since Nepali public servants, aligned to political parties, seem to have no fear of the laws, which is evident from the reports of financial impropriety involving not 20 lakhs but crores and crores, the nation can use a mix of rules, regulations and social ostracism.