Lesson 58: Corruption (Level 2+)

Corruption is the abuse of public resources or public power for personal gain.
Corruption is a serious social issue that adversely affects the economy of a nation and impacts society as a whole. For example, if a judge is corrupt, he may drop charges and let certain criminals go free.

Corruption is a term widely used in politics, because more and more politicians are showing the world, through their actions, that they are “corrupt.”

A story is told of a corrupt official during Mughal Emperor Akbar’s reign, and how he and his wise adviser, Birbal, handled the situation.

One day the guards arrested a man and brought him to Akbar’s court.  The guard said: “Your Majesty, this man was caught taking a bribe.” “What was he working as?” Akbar asked. “Your Majesty, he is the officer in charge of the granary.” Akbar responded, “Put him in prison. I will think of his punishment later.”

Birbal, who was standing close by said, “A corrupt man will take bribes whatever position he may have.”  Hearing this, one of the ministers came forward and said, “I beg your pardon, your Highness, but I do not believe this.  There are some jobs in which it is impossible to take a bribe.”  “All right,” said Birbal, “I will give this corrupt man the job you suggest and we will see that he does.” To this the minister responded, “Give him the job of counting waves in the river Yamuna. I am sure he cannot take a bribe in this task.”  The corrupt man was brought out of prison.  He was then told to sit by the river Yamuna the whole day and count the waves.

Several days passed.  One day Akbar asked, “Birbal have you received any complaints against the man who was punished for taking bribes?” Once again, the minister intervened, “There is no news, Your Majesty. I told you, it is impossible for him to take bribes counting waves.” To this, Birbal responded, “Let’s go there tomorrow morning and see for ourselves.”

The next day at dawn Birbal, the minister and Akbar disguised themselves as fishermen. They took a boat and a net, and went out to the river Yamuna. As they came close to the shore they saw a man sitting with a pen and a paper in his hand; he seemed to be busy writing. When he saw them, he got up and shouted, “Who are you? What are you doing here?” “Do you know you have interfered with some work I was doing under royal orders?  I have been appointed to count waves in the river. Now you have come and disturbed me. You will be punished for this.”  “But sir, we are poor fishermen.” All right, I will let you go, but you will have to pay a fine of a hundred gold coins.”  “Be kind, sir. We don’t have a hundred coins.” You can give me fifty gold coins, can’t you?” the man said.  At this, one of the fishermen came forward and said angrily, “Let me give him the hundred coins he is asking for.”  He then took off his disguise. The man stepped back in shock when he realized it was Emperor Akbar.

Akbar turned to Birbal and said, “You were right, a dishonest man will always find ways to make money, regardless of the job he may be doing.”

A) Vocabulary:Please make sentences with the words below. Your sentences should show that you understand the meaning of the word.

Corruption – dishonesty, fraud
Adverse  preventing success or development; harmful
Bribe (verb) – to try to make someone do something for you, often something dishonest, by giving them money or gifts
Granary – a grain storehouse
Intervene – take part in something so as to change a result
Disguise – change dress or appearance to hide identity
Interfere – prevent an activity from continuing or being carried out properly

B) Discussion Points:

  1.  Examples of corruption:
    A businessman pays a bribe to a government official in order to be given a government contract or license.
    The use of government-owned resources, such as motor vehicles, for private purposes.
    A government official takes advantage of his or her position to favour a family member or business associate for a job or contract.
    A police officer asks for a bribe or a member of the public offers one in order to escape lawful punishment.
  2. Give specific examples of forms of corruption that you might have experienced.
  3. What can we do to control corruption? Please write four to five sentences on this topic, using at least three new words from this lesson.
    Honesty is the best policy.
    Trust takes years to build, seconds to break, and forever to repair.
    Treat those who are good with goodness, and also treat those who are not good with goodness. Thus goodness is attained. Be honest to those who are honest, and be also honest to those who are not honest. Thus honesty is attained. – Lao Tzu
  4. Did Akbar and Birbal follow Lao Tzu’s advice? Do you agree with what Lao Tzu said about goodness and honesty?
  5. Using the Internet,please find out a few facts about Lao Tzu.
  6. Look for your favourite Lao Tzu quote.