I could write a world class treatise on corruption, having seen it all around me for so many years. No need, though.
I shall attempt to explain how and why corruption seeped into Indian ethos:
Scarcity of resources: More people, less opportunity. Not only hard commodities in the marketplace but services, admissions, travel tickets, practically everything. So in a state of near panic, we jump the que, neglecting all lessons on moral education we received in school. Our political system sensed this opportunity to make money way back in the 60’s. They made sure the equation stays this way. More scarcity leads to more panic leads to heightened desire to jump the que. So bribe your way out of any situation. QED.
Excessive laws and controls: Excessive controls in post independence era created a plethora of opportunities for the bureaucracy and at a more immediate level, the babus, to fleece the common citizen. Keep the laws twisted and beyond understanding. This was practiced in every single government budget, policy and procedure. Sadly, it continues even today.
Scant respect or fear of law enforcement: Not that a common Indian is not scared of law or officials. On the contrary it is the very fear which drives people to evade taxes, fines, regulations and at a more specific level evade punishment for offences of all nature. Law enforcement machinery will show you the way. viola!
Lack of education: and as a consequence little awareness of rights and no awareness of duties. Democracy without an educated people is the basic reason why we went corrupt and enjoy being so. As of today, the educated percentage of India’s population is a pathetic 74% (less than 60% for women!). India has the world’s largest illiterate population. Add to this the deficit of quality education that’s available to lower income groups, you have a perfect recipe for disaster. At the DNA level.
Dishonest Governance: I will not comment on this one. A dishonest society will get a government to match. This alliance has continued for a long time and the society has grown immune, insensitive and resistant to change. We get what we want. Quid pro quo of sorts.
Rise of the professional (murky) politician: Seduced by the abundance of easy sleazy money, the more aggressive members of society took to politics as a profession, right after college, rather than as an avenue for service to the nation. They misinterpreted our constitution and threw all standards of morality into a dark and dirty pit where ironically, our political system has stuck its roots and derives sustenance from.
The greatest tragedy of post independence India is that it allowed corruption to seep in, take root and find a congenial, receptive, fertile social soil.
Who knows, this might be the undoing of this once great civilization.