Tag Archive for 'Corruption in India'

A selective rage over corruption

We rail against the bribe taker not the bribe giver says Manu Joseph in New York Times

The best thing about Indian politicians is that they make you feel you are a better person. Not surprisingly, Indians often derive their moral confidence not through the discomfort of examining their own actions, but from regarding themselves as decent folks looted by corrupt, villainous politicians.

This is at the heart of a self-righteous middle-class uprising against political corruption, a television news drama that reached its inevitable climax in Delhi on Tuesday when the rural social reformer Anna Hazare was about to set out for his death fast — the second one he has attempted this year to press his demand for a powerful anti-corruption agency.

He was arrested by the police, ostensibly in the interest of law and order.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in his Independence Day address to the nation on Monday, took digs at Mr. Hazare and his tactic of using hunger strikes to twist the arm of an elected government. Mr. Singh said that he did not have “a magic wand” to end corruption in India. more

Time to step back

In Indian Express Pratap Bhanu Mehta argues for a fine balance, not an insolent civil society or a tyrannical state.

History repeats itself, first as farce and then as more farce. But in this drama both the so-called civil society and the state are bringing out the worst in each other, to the point where they both, in different ways, represent a threat to democratic values. There is no doubt that Anna Hazare’s movement powerfully expressed anger against corruption, even as its own proposed solutions border on unreasonable daftness. But it has to be said that the way in which state power is being exercised to control and squelch protest is a dangerous trend for Indian democracy. Democracy requires a delicacy of moral judgment. So we are now in the awkward position of worrying that though the state is right in asserting the supremacy of institutions, it is becoming dangerously arbitrary and arrogant. Hazare’s approach and proposals are ill-considered. But the right of that movement to protest needs to be defended. Unfortunately, both the state and civil society are in a “if you are not with us, you are against us” mood. That does not augur well for Indian society. more

The new corruption meter

In the 2010 Corruption Perceptions Index, India is where it was 15 years ago. Does that mean we are culturally inclined to be a corrupt nation? Aakar Patel in Mint Lounge:

India has remained as corrupt as it was 15 years ago, in the eyes of experts and those who do business with us. Are things changing here? The laws are getting better, and the Right to Information Act in particular is exceptional. However, we are talking about culture.

Corruption is of two types. The first is transactional, where a bending or breaking of the rule is agreed upon and paid for. This is the common form of corruption. All nations are susceptible to it, because it hinges on the morality of individuals.

The second form of corruption is that where the act of corruption unfolds not from greed but opportunity.

This is the lower form, and more venal.

Here the transaction is forced, and the payer is unwilling and often on the right side of the law. Yet he must bribe because he is vulnerable. It could be to build a house, release a consignment from customs, collect a relative’s corpse from the morgue or collect an income-tax refund. We are familiar with this in India, and it is extortion, though we do not think of it so harshly.

Such corruption is lethal and difficult to root out. It reveals a cultural lack of morality. In such a culture it is the upright man who is noticed (Manmohan Singh) because he is the exception. In the top nations on our list, the fact that a leader is not corrupt would be assumed and not remarked upon.

Some cultures accommodate corruption while others are equipped to resist it. Ours isn’t, and we will remain where we are on that list for a very long time.

This is not to say that all of us are the same.

In India, the Catholic holds a higher standard of morality than the Hindu or Muslim. He is more upright and less susceptible to corruption, as those who live in Catholic areas know. More:

India slips further in world corrruption index

India has slipped further in the global corruption perception index released annually by corruption watchdog Transparency International (TI). In world rankings, India came down from 72nd to 85th slot in a list of 180 countries. Some rankings:

Bhutan 45; India 85; Sri lanka 92; The Maldives 115; Nepal 121; Pakistan 134; Bangladesh 147; Afghanistan 176; Burma 178.

China is at 72.

The Top five: Denmark, New Zealand, Sweden, Singapore, Finland

The US is at 18 and the UK at 16

More here, and click here for the full list: