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Monday, April 11, 2011

Corruption, Agitation and Wealth Creation

George F Will was referring to the US government but his words apply with greater force to India when he wrote, “The administration’s central activity — the political allocation of wealth and opportunity — is not merely susceptible to corruption, it is corruption.” [Tincture of Lawlessness. The Washington Post, May 2009.]

Corruption: Mostly poor and partially middle class in India are victims of state indifference and corruption; The money released for subsidy and loan waiver schemes is stolen by corrupt government officials. And yet if one asks us what jobs they would like to have the number one answer is to job for the government.

The very base of your very social order – and this lie includes the need for you to be clever, jugaad, and constantly try to hinder others growth. Literacy was supposed to create a level playing field for all. However, investments in education have actually widened the gap between the English-speaking classes and the vernacular masses. The same people when complaining about corruption will vote for the most corrupt politicians because those are the politicians with the resources to protect them. Now these are the structural problems to TACKLE for the development.

As Atanu dey pointed out in Anna Hazare Goes to New Delhi that this bill is more a palliative and not curative rule change. He is is giving valid reasons on the changes necessary to the structure of government, not just adding another law in the rule book.
The license-permit-control-quota raj is at the root of the criminalization of Indian politics. The less scruples one has, the greater the loot; the greater the loot, the more intense the competition to win the position; the more intense the competition, the greater the cost of fighting elections; the greater the cost, the greater the need to recover them; the more greedy and unprincipled people in government, the greater their desire to increase the government’s choke-hold on the economy.

The root cause of corruption and the related issue of absolutely abysmal governance is our set of bad rules. India’s persistent deep-rooted poverty is due to that. Douglass C. North noted that “economic history is overwhelmingly a story of economies that failed to produce a set of economic rules of the game (with enforcement) that induce sustained economic growth.” The road out of poverty starts off with people deciding on a different set of rules.
Even awareness of systematic injustices is not enough. Here is the need of new policymakers and participation of the people in politics. The people has to evolve from typical "Operational conservative and theoretical liberal"  to "Active Liberal Participant" for a solution.That is my conclusion.

Agitation: The delay in implementing is definitely meaningless. Do we educated Indian are full of apathy and nihilism? Recent uproar for support of Anna Hazare proves me wrong.

A petition and peaceful protest has always been ignored. And the government gives in to demands — reasonable or not — when sufficient violence is employed. One wonder whether the government responds only to threats of indefinite fast and violent retreat.

While people suspecting on the motives of Anna Hazare protest, they have to know that a certain level, any act of protest is a form of blackmail. And no protest can succeed without the will of the people. The will of the people don't need impotent and parasitic government slowing down their movement. The vibrant democracy don't need to wait five years for even a small change. If the public has full fledged support, then government should listen and act on the raised concerns. Indian democracy needs volunteer like Hazare to raise their points in public.

Corruption cannot be tackled just through a non-partisan anti-corruption body though that is important but rather through transparency at all transactional levels. Every person with an opinion now has an opportunity to be heard and redesign of system will be a better start.

Wealth Creation: Does wealth have a social value? Corruption, crooked capitalism and lack of transparency has piled up to an uneven development of few. When millionaire is becoming billionaire and so on... while poor are suffering from proper transportation, rehabilitation, medical facilities, education, food security & public distribution system, there is need for a change.

Corruption is the manifestation of a systemic problem. Government power and control forms the foundation on which the massive structure of corruption is built. Visible mechanism and adequate punishment are the standards of system design, not the structure itself.

So there is a much more fundamental question is why do some elites make their money by destroying their economies and others make their money by growing their economies. It is due to having illiterate & unconscious politicians who don't think about state or nation.


  1. We need to motivate and send right kind of people into the system, otherwise it would become difficult to remove corruption. Because Institutions can only become better if right kind of people are administering it. From outside we can only cry for correcting the menace.We may be successful at times but not always. Therefore citizen should work together to strengthen the institutions.In my view, right minded individual should join administration, politics and NGO, then only sacrifice of anna hazare would be useful. No problem can be solved by tougher laws. And "Principal of Punishment" should not be promoted as a means to improve the system. Because it would lead to exploitation of honest people by corrupt ones. Corruption is low in those countries where laws are liberal and governance is better. for example in china officials get death punishment for corruption but still they have highest degree of corruption which even India can not match.But at the same time it can not be used as a pretext for not going ahead with the lokpal bill. we definitely need this bill but it must include proper safeguards for "honest people" and "aaam janta" so that they are not exploited ( say after 20 years from now) when people like anna hazare may not exist.(This is the lesson we have learnt from POTA and Guj Macoca).. In my view Root of the problem lies in "First Past the Post System" and "corporate funding". We need to change it. We should move towards "proportional representation electoral system" or "double ballot with negative voting". Corruption is a "culture" and it flows from "top to bottom". A single Leader can make the system less corrupt. take for example, one leader in "Bihar" is changing the face of bihar while people below him are almost the same.Gujarat is also an example. We need to make a system where such kind of people are motivated to join politics ; NGOs ; and administration. WHy I am including NGO is because India has got highest no of NGOs in the world and it is not because of our sensitivity towards high level of poverty but because in our country you can make more money by talking about the poor and downtrodden. We should motivate our "talented youth" of India who have got potential to do something for our country to join the system. Because we can not expect everyone to be highly talented :) ... Unfortunately, right now our friends are busy in increasing their "package" in the corporate world, without even realizing that how the funding of their package takes place ;).... One of my friend (working in software)told me that his company has clinched a deal of 1 billion dollar from a "Farma Company". When I told him that how these MNCs farma companies are exploiting Indian and african poor by selling them patented drugs at unprecedented high price, he was very disappointed after knowing the source of his high package which he was earning honestly.. ;)..

  2. Replying you in the points :

    1- Publius Cornelius Tacitus : The more corrupt the state, the more laws. Hence only steps like use of e-technology to minimize the interface between the public servant and the citizen would be helpful in curbing corruption.

    2- Lokpall bill or an Independent CBI is only a minor structural change for cleaning the power holders. They are based on "Principal of Punishment" ; Hence not much useful in coming years.

    3- What is meaning of "First Past the Post System" ?

    4- Culture of corruption is funded as written above " The license-permit-control-quota .... choke-hold on the economy."

    One leader at the top that is rarity. We need to decentralize power at the top first through panchayats. Hence concentration of money in few hands can be stopped. that is my suggestion..

    5- So even what should to tackle corporate funding as it has already damaged US. And our talented youths are blindly running to adapt that model. I see no hope in the future !

  3. 1... E-governance is the best thing which is
    happening to our country. You must know about
    "Lokvani".. sitapur (u.p.)

    2. rightly said... solution lies with the electoral system and election commission. Tougher laws and tougher institutions have got tendency to create leviathan in the long run.

    3.First past the post system:- archaic means to
    elect our representative (MLA & MP).. In this
    system anyone who is getting the highest no of vote will win the election... it means even if you get only 15-20 % of total vote, you will win, if it is the highest. SO it is not difficult to buy these votes....... Time has come to scrap this system of election... even anna gave a hint of this but nobody gave attention... His next fast would be for this ... I am sure..
    And,If he does, I will again go to the jantar manter ;)
    (I will suggest you to read more about our democratic set-up to understand the dynamics and nuances of it)

    4. I am in agreement with you for complete
    decentralization. In fact, I support the view to have 3 tier govt system in India.. centre ;
    state; district council....
    Currently the 3rd stage exists, but it does not
    breath due to lack of support from state govt and bureaucracy .
    District council(headed by political executive
    ..not by an IAS) should be autonomous and
    financially independent of state govt. This will lead to intense competition among districts to perform.
    But the problem is that this is not practically possible in the existing set-up. So the 3rd point should precede 4th. Unless until we are able to send right kind of people at the top , reforms will have no practical implications. We need a right kind of politics!! That's it!!

    There is no alternative to the politics..And we should never search for the alternative.

    5. There is subtle change taking place in
    India. And this change is happening at a very fast rate... And that is why there is so much chaos everywhere... Citizen have become more demanding and asking for better services.
    But who is there to provide good services?? That is why our youth should not only become demanding but they should also come forward to serve, otherwise there will be more chaos and nobody left to serve.

    Today, I was delighted to see two honest ex-bureaucrat(Kiran Bedi and Arvind kejriwal) on the front page of The Hindu, fighting for corruption. But both had to resign from their service. Such kind of things should not happen.
    We need more concerned people like you ;)..

    And don't loose hope..
    My fav movie is shawshank redemption.. it says "hope is a good thing........." :D

  4. My above post has become misaligned. Pls forgive me. I am not good at all these things... :P

  5. Thank you bhaiya for the detailed answers. I am just tired but not lost hope !

  6. Production of Space.
    Most of the communities in India (such as Bengali), are succumbed in 'Culture of Poverty'(a theory introduced by an American anthropologist Oscar Lewis), irrespective of class or economic strata, lives in pavement or apartment. Nobody is at all ashamed of the deep-rooted corruption, decaying general quality of life, worst Politico-administrative system, weak mother language, continuous absorption of common space (mental as well as physical, both). We are becoming fathers & mothers only by self-procreation, mindlessly & blindfold. Simply depriving their(the children) fundamental rights of a decent, caring society, fearless & dignified living. Do not ever look for any other positive alternative behaviour (values) to perform human way of parenthood, i.e. deliberately co-parenting of those children those are born out of ignorance, real poverty. All of us are being driven only by the very animal instinct. If the Bengali people ever be able to bring that genuine freedom (from vicious cycle of 'poverty') in their own life/attitude, involve themselves in 'Production of Space'(Henri Lefebvre), at least initiate a movement by heart, decent & dedicated Politics will definitely come up. - Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay, 16/4, Girish Banerjee Lane, Howrah-711101, India.



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