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.