Reason Writers Around Town: Shikha Dalmia on India's Anti-Corruption Protests


As the Arab Spring blooms in the Middle East, India has been experiencing a summer of rage. Led by the 74-year-old Anna Hazare, the whole country has been engulfed in anti-corruption protests rarely seen since Mahatma Gandhi launched the Quit India movement to boot out the British, writes Senior Analyst Shikha Dalmia in here latest column at The Daily. But corruption might prove to be a more tenacious foe than the Brits. She notes:

Protests are like morning ablutions in India's cacophonous democracy: routine and purgative. One can't sneeze without running into a demonstration by some interest group fighting for some special benefit. But the Hazare protests were not about government handouts. They were about government oppression.

Corruption pervades every facet of life and every rung of society in India. It is impossible to conduct government business — obtain birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses, driver's licenses — without bribing petty bureaucrats who can otherwise bury simple requests beneath their voluminous rulebooks forever. But the current protests were triggered by a series of corruption scandals involving officials at the highest levels. The organizers of the Commonwealth Games debacle skimmed funds. Ministers in the southwestern state of Karnataka shipped millions of tons of iron ore to China at throwaway rates for kickbacks. The last straw was the scandal last year in which the telecom minister sold 2G broadband access to a billionaire at a tenth of its actual value, costing the public treasury $40 billion.

Read the whole thing here.


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  1. Ok people, here is the deal..

    If you have to buy the job, then get paid $30 a month, like border guards in cambodia, corruption should be expected. People must eat.

    Government should pay a real wage, or you will pay in other ways.

    There is no third choice!

    Reality sucks.

    1. Actually, $30 (or whatever) a month is probably a high wage in Cambodia (or wherever).

      Just as in western countries, government employees in the third world are paid more than their efforts would fetch in the free market. Plus they have the added benefit of opportunities for graft to the extent that the culture they live in permits it.

      That’s why people pay for these jobs. And it’s why once they have them they create the networks of bribery and kickbacks that pervade such cultures.

      It has nothing to do with being paid “a real wage”, whatever that is.

      1. I disagree. If you pay someone enough that the potential bribes are insignifigant, then the official will have both less incentive to steal and a strong disincentive to steal: losing their high paying job.

        This does require a country to actually enforce its anti-corruption laws, however.

        1. If you raise wages for petty positions too high, at a certain point a market arises in the sale of those jobs among those who have the power to grant them.

          I may seem like a tautism but all it takes for corruption to occur is for a culture of corruption to exist. Stamping those things out takes a lot of time and effort.

          Please note (from the article)

          The organizers of the Commonwealth Games debacle skimmed funds. Ministers in the southwestern state of Karnataka shipped millions of tons of iron ore to China at throwaway rates for kickbacks. The last straw was the scandal last year in which the telecom minister sold 2G broadband access to a billionaire at a tenth of its actual value, costing the public treasury $40 billion.

          In what sense were “the organizers of the Commonwealth Games” underpaid? Hoew about the Ministers in Karnataka?

          And “the telecom minister [who] sold 2G broadband access to a billionaire at a tenth of its actual value, costing the public treasury $40 billion” sounds like good old crony capitalism to me. How much do we have to pay a minister like that to prevent him from selling the last of the state’s assets to his pals?

          1. “I may seem like a tautism ” makes more sense if you substitute

            “It may seem tautological” which is what I should have said in the first place.

            1. I kinda like tautism.

          2. Im not saying that paying public officials more is a panacea, just that I dont think you can break the back of corruption without paying public officials a good wage.

            Now, obviously, there is a lot more to dealing with corruption than that, but i believe it to be a necessary step.

            FWIW, i agree with you that corruption breeds corruption, i dont think that is tautological.

    2. The third choice is get rid of about a thousand or so regulations and fire the beaurcrats.

      1. Good point.

        It’s worth remembering that much of the opportunity and impetus for corruption comes from the fact that these bureaucrats hold this power in the first place.

        Power that has very little to do with maintaing good order or whatever the justification is claimed for the oodles of regulations every politician in the world feels obligated to impose.

    3. There is no third choice? How about fulfilling your job duties with courtesy, honesty, and integrity. Shouldn’t we expect this from all government employees, regardless of what they feel is a “real wage”?

  2. Corruption is a big problem in India, but things are changing there rapidly. I don’t think it will be very long before India takes its position as the great economic power in Asia.

    1. As long as they can keep the Muslims and Hindus playing nicely in the sandbox, I agree. There are a lot of very well educated Indians. Thanks to the legacy of British occupation, they have a “Western” sensibility regarding enterprise, education, and governance. If the best and brightest in India would refuse to tolerate corruption (and ditch the caste system), they could be the real Asian powerhouse.

      1. Actually, the Indians have a “sensibility regarding enterprise” that predates the Raj by centuries. If anything the British suppressed it.

        One of the tragedies of modern India is that for the first three decades or so of their independence their politics was dominated by English educated socialists.

    2. “Corruption is a big problem in India”

      China seems to be doing ok, despite its corruption and China invented bureaucracy.

      1. corruption in a communist system is the only way capitalism can happen. Now imaging they didn’t have that authoritarian government, how great would they be doing.

        1. that all goes for the US too come to think of it…

  3. The last straw was the scandal last year in which the telecom minister sold 2G broadband access to a billionaire at a tenth of its actual value, costing the public treasury $40 billion.

    The problem here is that a government has no business selling air (or waves that travel through the air unnoticed by a human being) to people for 40 fucking billion dollars. The bureaucrats didn’t fuck the treasury out of the money. They accidentally did the right thing.

    1. well, less of a wrong thing.

  4. “””They accidentally did the right thing.””‘

    No they didn’t

    By selling the rights to the billionaire they restricted everyone else in India from using it. If you are against the government owning these rights then you should also be against the government selling these rights since the act of selling transfers ownership rights which you say the government did not have to begin with. If you are against government ownership then you should be against the same government transferring to one of its buddies that same ownership. Neither is free market.

  5. Corruption is just government regulation that hasn’t been codified yet.

  6. A contrarian view:

    From a perspective of pure self-interest, petty corruption may be preferable to rigid purity for both parties.

    Example: Get pulled over for speeding in the US, and you are out of pocket hundreds of dollars and/or hours of your time.

    Get pulled over for speeding in, say, Latin America, and you fork over a $20 and you’re on your way.

    Dunno about you, but I wish I could have just passed a $20 to the uniformed donut magnet last time I got pulled over. I would have been much better off.

  7. Just as cricket fever sweeps India and makes no difference to any thing, Hazare’s fake fast was entertainment, sponsored by CIA-RAW to keep India ‘Gandhian’ — and so poor, weak and enslaved — due to the recent disclosure that M. K. Gandhi, a lifelong British agent, was a homosexual who wrote to the white man “How completely you have taken possession of my body. It is slavery with a vengeance”. India has said that its nuclear warheads have been emplaced in various cities/countries such as New Delhi, Washington and New York. The nuclear destruction of these three cities, with a warning that additional U.S. cities will be destroyed if there is any retaliation, is the first step in the implementation of India’s National Security Doctrine. The only way the United States will be able to keep two to three additional cities from being destroyed is by doing nothing in return. Five years later India can finish the job with its coast-to-coast destruction. With the impending nuclear destruction of New Delhi, Washington and New York, nothing else matters. I am India’s expert in strategic defence, the father of India’s strategic program including the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program, the world’s greatest scientist (my biography is in Marquis’ Who’s Who in the World, 2011 and earlier editions) and India’s legitimate ruler and my blog titled ‘Nuclear Supremacy For India Over U. S.’, which can be found by a Yahoo search with the title, answers all questions.//

    By emplacing its nuclear warheads in U. S. cities as I urged some time ago saying “Compare the infinite ease, speed and economy of pre-positioning India’s nuclear bombs in U.S. cities to any other method of getting them there” (see my blog), India has realized the folly of waiting for “Nau Man Tel” (as in “Na Nau Man Tel Hoga Na Radha Nachegi”) in the form of missiles that can reach the continental United States before destroying the enemy. India must not fall into the error of waiting for its nuclear warheads to be emplaced in more and more U. S. cities before destroying Washington and New York; so long as they have been emplaced in just two or three additional cities besides Washington and New York — just one twenty kiloton warhead in each city will do the job — the destruction of Washington and New York should proceed with the warning that additional U. S. cities (two or three additional cities, or more if warheads have already been emplaced in more than two or three cities in addition to Washington and New York) will be destroyed if there is any retaliation. The destruction of Washington and New York will enable India to build missiles to finish the job of the coast-to-coast destruction of the U. S. five years later. Nor should India wait for the Army to destroy RAW despite the Army chief’s recent reference to the “morass” India is in in which some people have sought to see a ray of hope; it will be an endless wait; India’s nuclear weapons program will flourish after the nuclear destruction of New Delhi and so will India.//

    Like the folly of having India’s nuclear warheads ‘tested’ in Russian and French high energy labs that I dealt with in my press releases dated November 26, 2010 and November 29, 2010 (appended below), it is folly not to test the warheads that are being emplaced in U. S. cities to see if even one of these warheads — even 17 kiloton warheads — will work or whether they have been sabotaged by RAW or other traitors — the fact that K. Santhanam who was in charge of the 1998 tests was a RAW man means that RAW has the ability to sabotage India’s nuclear warheads and has almost certainly done so (see my ‘What You Should Know About RAW’ appended below) — even after a successful test. They can be tested at Pokhran or they can be tested by triggering them in New Delhi, Washington and New York — it is India’s choice — but tested they must be without delay. And without seeking the ‘permission’ of traitors such as Manmohan Singh or A. K. Antony or anyone else. Such testing should be routine like the testing of artillery shells or other ordnance at Pokhran without reference to anyone in New Delhi.//
    PRESS RELEASE DATED NOVEMBER 26, 2010: When I say there is no substitute for full yield explosive tests of nuclear weapons, I say this from a purely engineering point of view and not for demonstrating to the world that our weapons work. As I said in a letter to the press after the 1998 tests when R. Chidambaram claimed that his computer models enable him to build higher yield weapons which need not undergo explosive tests, ‘One could not legitimately rely on an automobile engine developed on that basis if your life depended on its working the very first time it is ever used, much less a nuclear weapon’. This applies to both computer models and laboratory models. What happens in a high energy lab is a highly imperfect laboratory model of a nuclear weapon which does not take account of a multitude of things. If computer models and laboratory models were sufficient, there will be no need for flight tests of missiles and jet aircraft, etc.//

    The Physics of what happens in a nuclear explosion cannot adequately be replicated in a high energy lab. Laboratory models of missiles and jet aircraft may not have this deficiency but laboratory models of nuclear weapons do.//

    PRESS RELEASE DATED NOVEMBER 29, 2010: It is now being put out that a “fix” has been applied to the 1998 failed thermonuclear weapon design and there is no need for an explosive test of the “fixed” design because the designers have “confidence” it will work. But it is a very foolish designer who does not test his “fix” with an explosive test. Didn’t R. Chidambaram have confidence in his 1998 design which failed? There has been no “fix” until the weapon is shown to work in an explosive test — shown as much to the designer as to the world. A designer who says it is not necessary is too stupid to design even a toaster, much less a nuclear weapon.//
    August 26, 2008: WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT RAW: I have written (for example in my article titled ‘India’s Technological and Economic Emancipation’ in my blog titled ‘Nuclear Supremacy For India Over U.S.’) about the continued control of Indian intelligence agencies by British and later American intelligence agencies after 1947. India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) was split off from the Intelligence Bureau which had continued after 1947 to be loyal to the British. Later the Americans supplanted the British and RAW functions as a branch of the CIA against India. As part of this relationship, CIA-RAW exercises extensive control over the Indian media and, among its various activities, engages in sabotage of indigenous research and development to keep India dependent on other countries for defence and other equipment (the nuclear deal is just another CIA-RAW operation of that kind, though of a scope and with consequences far graver than any such operation till now).//
    An example of this is a Bharat-Rakshak discussion thread about a black box installed by the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) in the indigenously developed Arjun tank that documented the sabotage of its engines during trials by the Army; such sabotage has been the basis of the Army’s rejection, on RAW’s prompting, of the Arjun tank in favour of imports (as I said in the above article, India’s Army is the collaborator Army that helped the British rule India and, even after Independence, all its regiments and units have retained their former identities and regularly celebrate the anniversaries of their founding by the British). A CIA-RAW operative, who serves as a moderator on Bharat-Rakshak and controls the forum, recently locked away this discussion thread so that numerous posts that had appeared documenting the sabotage of the Arjun tank were covered up. The major metropolitan newspapers, on most of which CIA-RAW exercises extensive control, have made no mention of the black box — which was like the flight data recorder in aircraft — installed by DRDO in Arjun tanks and the shocking findings about the sabotage even though a report on this was provided to them by the Indo Asian News Service (IANS).//
    There is across the board sabotage by various means by CIA-RAW to keep India down technologically, economically and militarily. RAW’s grip over India is comparable to the old KGB’s grip over the Soviet Union, with the difference that whereas the KGB worked for the good of the Soviet Union, except toward the end, RAW has always worked for its imperialist paymasters. The role of politicians in governing India is insignificant compared to that of CIA-RAW but RAW has no place in the public’s consciousness or in discussions of public affairs in India.//
    An important point about the sabotage of Arjun is that people on the Arjun discussion thread on Bharat-Rakshak were aghast at the Army’s behavior and calling for Army brass being tried for treason, etc. but it will be a mistake to stop with the Army; it is RAW which is behind such sabotage not just of Arjun but of India’s interests, technological, economic and other, in a lot of areas. RAW has operatives in the Army at various levels but it is necessary to go to the root of the problem. RAW has to be destroyed and I have suggested that a brand new external intelligence agency be formed with the help of military intelligence (RAW is supposed to be India’s external intelligence agency but at least 90% of its activities are within India, against India).//
    The destruction of RAW does not mean simply disbanding the agency and letting its employees continue their service to the CIA through other organisations, old or new, or in other roles. It is a mammoth agency with just the number of joint secretaries in the hundreds. It is India’s real ‘government’ and the politicians and civil servants largely obey its dictates. It puts the words in the mouths of cabinet ministers, etc., and determines most policies that are, erroneously, attributed to them. Any one, even a prime minister, whom CIA-RAW considers inconvenient is eliminated, if necessary by death, as I have said regarding the deaths of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and, later, Rajiv Gandhi in my article titled ‘How India’s economy can grow 30% per year’ in my blog titled ‘Nuclear Supremacy For India Over US’ which can be found by doing a Yahoo search with the title.//
    Over the past many years, I have shown how almost all terrorist incidents in India since 1983 have been carried out by outfits controlled by the CIA either directly or through intelligence agencies in the region, including India’s RAW. The Jain Commision of Inquiry, which went into Rajiv Gandhi’s death, acknowledged that the LTTE, which carried out his assassination, was created and controlled by RAW. It was an open secret that MQM, in Pakistan’s Sindh province, when it was known as a terrorist organization, was a creation of RAW. But the same is true of many terrorist outfits that operate in India.//
    Another example of RAW’s multifarious activities, that I have described in press releases, articles and letters to the press since 1987, is its spreading heroin addiction and AIDS first in India’s Northeast then elsewhere to provide the United States with a population to use as guinea pigs for AIDS vaccine development, after the CIA was assigned the task of roping in a population for this purpose. I have described how Both Rajiv Gandhi (after being blackmailed with threats of exposure of the Bofors and HDW kickbacks by Swedish and German media at the CIA’s instigation) and Vajpayee cooperated in this. But terrorism, etc., are the least of its activities; I mentioned those only because the existence of terrorism is publicly known. Its sabotage of India’s research and development activities, of which the sabotage of the Arjun tank is just one example, is among the deadliest of its activities.//
    The nuclear deal in its various aspects — replacing indigenous production of uranium and reactors with imports, the capping, rollback and elimination of India’s nuclear weapons program, media control and buying up politicians, scientists, etc. for this purpose — is just the largest and deadliest of such activities, leaving out the 24-hour satellite surveillance and all the crimes, at the cost of hundreds of millions of dollars per year for the past 31 years, against India’s greatest scientist, described in my article titled ‘How India’s economy can grow 30% per year’. The point is that all the tens of thousands of RAW employees are guilty of the gravest treason and deserve the death penalty. So do all those — politicians, civil servants and others — who are willing collaborators of CIA-RAW.//
    Satish Chandra

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