Since the dawn of civilisation man's most characteristic mark is that he never ceases in endeavours to advance his well-being by purposive activity to consolidate his material power and possession. As a result of it economics developed as a science in the 16th century that deals with the maximisation of well-being through proper management and productivity of limited resources. Political economy branched out as a science from economics that studies how power and politics are at work to take control of wealth, formulate policies to exert influence or claim ownership rights over the factors of production and its distribution. In the historical analysis it has been demonstrated indubitably that self-serving and self-indulgent leaders increasingly assume power with the goal of becoming rich at the expense of the majority of their population. Kleptocrats have transformed politics to trade. They are traders who use their power, access and privileged information to generate wealth. And at the same time well-connected financiers and corporate leaders have made a business of politics. They come together to form a kleptocratic caste.
What is Kleptocracy? The term is derived from Greek word Kleptes (thief) and Kratos (rule). It literally means rules by thieves, government by those people who seek personal gain by misusing their political leverage, a political regime whose members usurp power to plunder property and amass wealth. During the colonial period officials involved in any enterprise in the occupied territory were given carte blanche to subjugate the colonised and collect revenue. As they had free rein to govern, they threw their weight about to manoeuvre financial and fiduciary responsibilities to their personal ends. Colonisation became a vampire empire due to rapaciousness of some of the officials. This practice still prevails in this age. Many developing and underdeveloped countries have suffered under the personal rule of kleptocrats who implement highly inefficient economic policies, expropriate the wealth of their citizens, and use the proceeds for their own glorification or consumption. There are a host of reasons behind this practice. They are:
(i) Weak and emasculated institutional mechanism that cannot effectively regulate and maintain check and balance,
(ii) Low average productivity which inevitably stagnates growth and dampens revenue- generating efficiency,
(iii) Prevalence of inequality which creates class struggle and class disparity and social stratification and foils social justice,
(iv) Inadequate wage structure that creates irrational exuberance of unregulated greed for personal gain,
(v) Judicial inaction and delinquency that only embolden the individuals.
The bourgeois are always in complicit in this process. They allure the power elites and higher echelons of politics to meet their end. This insidious manipulation of ruling class causes serious repercussions on macroeconomic management and operationalisation of economic development. Perennially it dissipates public confidence over the ruling class and colossal damage to their image.
Administrative assertiveness and robustness are required to make a definitive change in it. Only kleptocrats are morally bankrupt rotten apples and they should be squeezed out of politics and subject to prosecution. Political parties should stave off the influence of the unscrupulous elements. Image and reputation are overriding factors of politics, business, partnership and development. Culture of politics as a vocation has to be abrogated for good and politics of altruism, benevolence, and service should be widely promoted and facilitated.
Md Jamil Akhter is an employee of an investment bank. Email: [email protected]