Is Corruption in our roots?

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by A.V., Feb 26, 2011.

  1. A.V.

    A.V. New Member

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    The big question for people in south asia today is corruption in our roots ? because its a burning question today and there are hadly any concrete answers.
     
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  3. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Roots of corruption

    V. GANGADHAR

    AFP

    [​IMG]

    ... a part of India's lost heritage.

    THERE were two of them, if my memory serves me right. Robert Clive of England and Dupleix from France. While the French and the English fought a 100-year war in Europe, they had several skirmishes in India in their bid to establish a colonial empire. The English won convincingly, leaving some scrapes like Pondicherry, Karaikal and Mahe to the French.

    The English stayed here for nearly 300 years and left us with a colonial legacy consisting of a railway system, an efficient administrative setup, the language and, of course, cricket. Our fathers and grandfathers, occasionally, talked fondly on the fairness of the British administration, which was not corrupt and did not take sides on local issues.

    I am not so sure. There are quite a few stories, which proved that the prevailing, massive corruption in India has some roots during the British rule. Our schoolbooks skipped over the incidents. We were told how brave and shrewd Robert Clive was in consolidating the rule of the East India Company. He was portrayed as a hero.

    He dealt with defectors like Mir Kasim and Mir Jaffar as the British endured the agony of the Black Hole of Calcutta, despite recent evidence that the tragedy did not happen. History is full of such aberrations. We now know that poor Marie Antoinette never uttered the fateful words urging her people to "eat cake" if they "did not have bread"!

    Much of Clive's glory emerged from the fact that he led the British to victory over the Nawab of Bengal Siraj-ud-Daulah, the man held responsible for the Black Hole of Calcutta in the Battle of Plassey, which changed Indian history. Now, Robert Clive was no soldier. He came to India at 18, a clerk for the East India Company. His rise was quick and he accepted a commission in the Company's army. Operating mostly in North and East India, and pursuing a divide and rule policy, Clive defeated quite a few local rulers and won kingdoms and fortunes for the Company.

    Later events were not so flattering to Clive. Like today's Indian politicians, he became too greedy and was the main figure in many scams, which were not made public. Historical events proved that Robert Clive was an expert in the Loot and Scoot policy, which is widely practised in India, particularly during communal riots.

    Why this ancient history now? British auction firm, Christie's, recently sold more than rare Mughal treasures worth £4.7 millions. These were spirited from British India by none other than Robert Clive. The items were sold at the behest of his descendants and fetched much more than the auctioneers had bargained for.

    The items sold were the cynosure of art collectors from all over the world. A 17th Century jewelled jade flask, which had been on display at London's Victoria and Albert Museum fetched £2.9 million. The flask was once part of the Imperial Collection in Delhi and was probably looted from the Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah by the Persian Nadir Shah who invaded India in 1739.

    How did Clive acquire the flask? Probably from the collection of Siraj-ud-Daulah who had an eye for expensive artefacts.

    This was not the only item at the auction. A flywhisk of bended agate and studded with rubies, fetched £901,000; a unique dagger adorned with jewelled floral sprays was sold for £733,000. After active bidding, a "hookah" with blue enamel and sapphires brought £94,000 and a pale green nephrite jade bowl went to a bidder for £53,000.

    Total all these and the loot was not bad for a man who began as a clerk in the East India Company. Robert Clive must have been more than a match for our current lot of politicians. Why, Bofors in the 20th Century was a pittance compared to what Clive took away from India.

    Despite being involved in such scams, Clive was a hero to a large number of British who credited him for consolidating the fortunes of the East India Company. But unlike independent India, the British administrative system did have a conscience. When Clive returned to England in 1767, he faced a Parliamentary inquiry over allegations of corruption. He was exonerated, but committed suicide when he was only 49. Perhaps, he did have a conscience.

    Clive's successor, Warren Hastings, who was India's first Governor-General, went one step further and Outclived Clive in massive corruption. He looted various big and small nawabs and princes. But Hastings' corruption was so blatant that the British Government ordered his impeachment. Way back in school, our English text had a lesson on the inspiring speech of Sir Edmund Burke as he levelled serious charges against Hastings.

    The British were our rulers; perhaps they could afford to loot their subjects. Today, our politicians loot their own people and are seldom tried or punished. But it was gratifying to learn that some of the British rulers also practised massive corruption and were not as pure as made out to be by some of their supporters.

    Seeing the photographs of the Christie items, I wondered if they would ever come back to India. After all, like the Kohinoor diamond, the peacock throne, and the Crown jewels, they belonged to India and were part of our culture and tradition.

    http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/mag/2004/06/06/stories/2004060600250400.htm
     
  4. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Corruption and the Black Economy in India

    TUESDAY, 24 JUNE 2008

    http://champagne-socialite.blogspot.com/2008/06/corruption-and-black-economy-in-india.html

    The Indian black economy is immense, lucrative, widespread, and has grown significantly since independence. According to Kumar (2001, 2), the black economy has grown from about 3% in the mid-50s to 20% by 1980, to 35% by 1990, and 40% by 1995. As a percentage of GDP and at almost $1 trillion in absolute terms, the black economy is larger than both the industrial and agricultural sectors. Corruption is pervasive from the lowest to the highest levels of public administration, public enterprise, bureaucracy, judiciary, law enforcement, and elected officials. According to Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer 2007 report, 25% of survey respondents had to pay a bribe to obtain government services, over four-out-of-five believe that political parties are corrupt, and more than 70% expect the level of corruption to increase in the coming three years.

    The history of corruption in India can be traced to late 18th century British East India company rule. The first governor-general of India, Warren Hastings was notably impeached on accounts of corruption in 1787. Though he was acquitted in 1795, his lengthy trial brought various aspects of illegitimate company activity to light. Brian Smith of Georgetown University (2008) writes, "too much ill-gotten wealth had made its way home from India; too many of Hastings' compatriots and defenders were in the House of Commons". The East India Company laid the foundations of both a corrupt bureaucracy and a parallel economy. During World War II, this black economy experienced a surge (Financial Express, 2007). When large quantities of products and resources were allocated to the war effort, the general public experienced acute shortages of daily necessities. Scarcity, government controls, and private hoarding stimulated the growth of the parallel economy. Even though in both periods the black economy made up only a small fraction of its present size, the institutional and social practices that would facilitate its rise were developed then.

    The most significant growth in the black economy occurred during and after the 1960s. Until this time, Gandhian and Nehruvian politicians who had been part of the independence struggle had largely administered the government. As their careers ended, officials who lacked their idealism, and were more likely to engage in corruption and rent-seeking practices, entered the government. According to Sondhi (2000), the keynote of this "great divide in the history of public administration in India" was amorality.

    Today, corruption pervades the political leadership, the bureaucracy, law enforcement and the judiciary. Some of the most prominent causes have been patron-client relationships and communalism in the democracy, excessive bureaucratic administration and low wages at the bottom rung of public sector employment, ineffective punitive and combative measures, and a social environment conducive to corrupt practices.

    Since the sixties, a new brand of electoral politics has seen leaders succeed who cater to specific regional, caste, religious, or linguistic communities as well as distinct private lobbies. In order to be reelected in a divisive environment, officials hand out benefits to private supporters and client communities. Nepotism in the allocation of government contracts and the siphoning-off of public sector funds occur on a large scale. For example, public sector real estate plots are taken over by individual politicians who then sell them at preferential rates to family members, campaign contributors, and other supporters in a process that is called "writing down". Democratic corruption is further compounded by rampant electoral malpractice, which undermines the legitimacy of the participatory process. Vote buying and voter coercion, political thuggery and warlordism are commonplace. Corruption pervades the political realm from the local district level, to the state level, to the national level, to the Prime minister's office - as Sondhi (2000) writes, "the scams and scandals of the nineties revealed that among the persons accused of corruption were former Prime Ministers, former Chief ministers, and even former Governors."

    During the sixties the development of a second factor also impacted corruption. Private sector wages and relative social prestige, particularly at the lower levels, grew faster than those of the public sector, creating incentive for corruption. According to The Times of India, the payscale for police constables in 2006, was between Rs. 3,050 and 4,590 in Maharashtra. In India, such wages are too low to guarantee a dignified life, forcing constables to turn to bribes. Therefore, it is common for well-off individuals to buy their way out of arrest. Additionally, the colonial legacy of an extensive administrative network facilitated the spread of corrupt activity in the bureaucracy, judiciary, and law enforcement. According to Sondhi, "the British had designed this legal system to strengthen a regulatory colonial administration...It has built in provisions for delays, prolonged litigation, and evasion. Its provisions are ideally suited to the promotion of corruption at all levels."

    Insufficiently low wages are generally characteristic of the lower levels of bureaucracy, and therefore most simple government services require bribing to be obtained. Many bureaucrats see their salaries as pocket money, while their actual incomes are determined by illegitimate means. Even in prestigious civil services like the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and Indian Revenue Service (IRS) that require entrance examinations, salaries are significantly lower than private sector alternatives. Corruption income is often taken into account when bright individuals choose the civil services over the private sector.

    Looking at the problem from a broader perspective, pervasive corruption has generated social attitudes that no longer view it as morally wrong, but as normal. High degrees of corruption in the police and judicial system coupled with widespread corruption among elected officials have contributed a collective disregard for the rule of law in society. "People often approach someone known to them for favors which they know are not legally due to them. Jumping the traffic lights or a queue or getting the benefits not due to one has become part of social ethos" (Sondhi 2000). A vicious cycle has been created where, because so many public officials are corrupt, corruption has found social acceptance, and this results in an even greater number of officials becoming corrupt. Therefore, increased corruption is a consequence of corruption itself.

    The economic impact of corruption is a powerful one. In theory, countries where talented people are allocated to rent-seeking activities tend to grow more slowly (Mauro 1995). Mauro finds that if the integrity and efficiency of bureaucracy in developing countries were to be improved, their investment and GDP growth rates would rise significantly. Controlling for GDP per capita, he concludes that corrupt governments spend less on education, and therefore achieve lower levels of human capital formation. According to Mauro, if corruption in India was reduced to Scandanavian levels, investment would rise by 12% annually and GDP would grow at an additional 1.5%.

    In India, the black economy has resulted in an immense loss of tax revenue. If it accounted for 40% of GDP in 1998-99, the loss of direct tax revenue at the prevailing rate would amount to at least Rs. 200,000 crore, or 47.5 billion U.S. Dollars (Kumar 1999, 5). According to the BBC (2004), only 2 million of India's billion people pay taxes, just 2% of the population. The government therefore suffers a perennial shortage of funds and public services languish. To make matters worse, public services and public enterprises are themselves extremely corrupt - the Public Works Department and the State Electricity Boards that are responsible for the provision, maintenance, and distribution of infrastructure and energy respectively, are among the most corrupt departments in India. "In the capital city of Delhi itself the transmission and distribution losses in the power sector are estimated to be over 50%, out which almost 30% is attributed to theft which is done with the connivance of the electricity board employees" (Sondhi 2000). Due to corruption, public sector enterprises appear to be inefficient and making large losses. In 1991, they lost over Rs. 30,000 crore, or $7.1 billion due to corruption; if not for illegal activity, profit margins would have been 30% as opposed to the reported 5% (Kumar 1999, 4)

    Black incomes also form a major tax on investment. Rather than being spent and injected into the economy, they tend to be mostly saved. Furthermore, these savings tend to be concentrated in areas that do not further investment. Black money tends to be laundered in destabilizing speculative bubbles such as real estate and gold, or deposited outside the country. Income from corruption constitutes a significant leakage from the economy, amounting to a tax on investment of almost 20 percentage points (Sondhi, 2000).

    Given the magnitude of corruption and its consequences, it is imperative that the problem is dealt with immediately. The government has already developed a number of agencies to deal with the problem such as the Prevention of Corruption Act (1947), Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Administrative Vigilance Division (AVD), and Central Vigilance Comission (CVC). However, a number of these agencies are corrupt themselves, while others lack the expertise to function effectively. I believe that a carrot and stick approach must be used to combat corruption. That is, the monetary incentive for corruption must be removed, while adequate punitive measures are simultaneously implemented. Corruption has lead to a vicious cycle where it keeps tax revenue low, thus keeps public sector wages low, and therefore perpetuates itself. The government must bear the initial cost and incur a deficit to raise public sector wages and make them more comparable to the private sector, while strengthening anti-corruption bodies. Theoretically, a higher salary should make an employee content and the increased probability of prosecution should deter their corrupt practices.

    Electoral reform is also necessary to restore faith in a free democratic process. Instituting stricter poll monitoring policies and replacing the inkblot voting technique with newer technology would better safeguard against malpractice. Allocating a fixed election budget for each party a-la the European Union would set somewhat of a barrier against rent seeking and patron-client politics.

    The media and civil society are important entities that should also be urged to expose corrupt practices. In the past, the media has exposed numerous profile cases, such as the Tehelka scandal, however less sensational corruption is left unreported. According to Kumar (1995), media entrepreneurs have interests that require favorable policy decisions and journalists have to be careful not to hurt these interests. Independent organizations however, have been more vigilant in their watch over corruption. Guhan and Paul (1997) state that the Public Affairs Center in Bangalore has developed innovative instruments, such as the report card methodology, to track down and expose corruption in the public services.

    The primary obstacle to implementing stricter controls over corruption is the general social climate. If society continues to accept the normality of corruption, politicians will not be pressed to implement counter-measures. The costs of corruption can be fundamentally raised through the democratic process. Voting against corrupt politicians will ensure that those in power will reduce their own illegal practices and take steps against corruption to garner votes. But until social attitudes change, necessary legislation will not be implemented to deal with the problem.

    Works Cited
    Aidt, T. S. "Economic Analysis of Corruption." The Economic Journal 113 (2003): f632-f652.
    Biswas, Soutik. "Reforming India's Maddening Tax System." BBC News 5 July 2004. .
    Guhan, S., and S. Paul. Corruption in India. New Delhi: Sage, 1997.
    Guhan, S., and S. Paul. Corruption in India. New Delhi: Sage, 1997.
    Khan, Mushtaq H., and Jomo K.S. Rents, Rent-Seeking and Economic Development. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2000.
    Kumar, Arun. The Black Economy in India. New Delhi: Penguin Books Ltd., 1999.
    Mauro, Paolo. "Corruption and Growth." The Quarterly Journal of Economics 110 (1999): 681-712.
    "Pay Hike for Maharashtra Police." The Times of India 17 Oct. 2006. .
    Smith, Brian. "Edmund Burke, the Warren Hastings Trial, and the Moral Dimension of Corruption." Polity 40 (2008): 70-94.
    Sondhi, Sunil. Combatting Corruption in India. University of Delhi. Prepared for the XVIII World Congress of International PoliticalScience Association, August 1-5, 2000, Quebec City, Canada, 2000.
    "The Parallel Economy in India." Financial Express 2 May 2007. .
     
  5. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    V Gangadhar has lost the point in vouching for British conscience. The Brits made scapegoats out of company men while retaining all the loot. Their conscience would have been cleared had they returned all that they looted over the years back to India.
     
  6. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    Transparency international finds that the perception overall in the world about corruption is dim. 60% people world wide say corruption in their country is up. 72% people in India say corruption is up in the last three years. And it is not an Indian problem alone. 72% in the US say the same and 67% in Australia two of the most advanced countries. Corruption is human tendency rather than just a horrible south asian phenomenon.
     
  7. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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  8. mayfair

    mayfair Elite Member Elite Member

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    I wonder why we keep harping about the return of our loot taken to Britain, but nary a word about getting back our heritage which was taken away to Iran and Central Asia. Surely that was equally if not more valuable haritage than what the bloody Anglo-Saxons decamped with.
     
  9. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    No i am not harping on getting it back but pointing out the authors incorrect assessment about the moral high seat that he is giving the british.
     
  10. mayfair

    mayfair Elite Member Elite Member

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    My comments were not directed at you mate, I was referring to the general trend in our media and some politicians. Of course V Gangadhar is off track on many things in that article. The British were here as conquerors and looters..plain and simple. To assign noble objectives to their actions would be revisionism at its best. However, to believe that all our present issues stem from the British rule would be do ignore the priest on a mmountain of sugar.
     
  11. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Actually, even before the British, it was mandatory to give 'nazrana' to the Royals and their bureaucrats.

    The Arabic word nazr (pl. nazur) means an offering, gift or present. The Persian noun word nazrana means a gift offered especially to a prince to pay respect.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2011
  12. thakur_ritesh

    thakur_ritesh Administrator Administrator

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    Yusuf,

    a lot of that would depend on the base one is talking about in each country, how universal is the appeal in a given society and how sensitive is a society to corruption. may be we indians have got so used to corruption that the other 28% dont see a rise in corruption worth a mention and may be the people in the US and australia are so sensitive that a slight spurt in corruption and they react.

    india fares rather badly compared to US, australia and we are slightly better than pakistan as per transparency international (where out of 10 india is given around 3.3 and pakistan 2.2-2.3) and in contrast US(7.1) and australia(7.9) fare way-way better though one advantage one sees in a corrupt society is people end up being a lot more street smart where systems can be bent given the loopholes but then the poor of a society are all the more prone to being exploited which also gives people a reason to head towards social unrest as is seen in a lot of hugely corrupt societies.

    i think more than that the real worrying sing for india is the following quote, where corruption is almost a given, is being accepted as a norm that one has to conform to else the work is not done, and if someone was to blow the lid, in extreme case be killed and that is happening with even people who want to know what is in reality happening, a fine case that of rti activists, where quite a few have been targeted and some who have been killed.


     
  13. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    Very interesting point Ritesh. I want to say that the article misses one important fact. The level of corruption in India maybe higher but the corruption (unless high level politicians) is usually not as extreme as it is in the west where even if the level of corruption is 1%, that 1% has people like Bernie Madoff who steals $$$50+Billion dollars.
     
  14. anoop_mig25

    anoop_mig25 Senior Member Senior Member

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    i think corruption was present in ancient india as well as . everybody knows about story of an poet asking for 100 slases as an reward form king on account of narrating good poem to king.
     
  15. amitkriit

    amitkriit Senior Member Senior Member

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    India masses are habituated to electing corrupt and criminals into power, so all our politicians prefer to play safe. Political parties in power and opposition will make all shorts of noises but they will never act against corrupt politicians or babus fearing reprisal, when they are voted out of power. I am 100% sure that all these multi-agency inquiries and JPCs are nothing but hogwash, the real motive is to equally share the loot, opposition parties are asking for their share to mute their voices.
     
  16. mattster

    mattster Respected Member Senior Member

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    Bernie Maddoff's clients were almost all rich American Jews who were happy to take the 15% returns that Bernie was paying out in his ponzi scheme. That is not the same as official corruption where the politicians steal the common man's money.

    You couldnt invest in Bernie's fund unless you had an inside connection or were very rich. Many of his investors knew that there was something fishy but did not care as long as they got those fabulous returns.

    The level of corruption here in the US, is nothing compared to any Asian countries. The difference between the US and India is that in the US most people who run for office are already wealthy individuals from the private sector before becoming politicians. In fact many even sacrifice much higher income in the private sector to serve in government. This is especially true of the non-political appointees like the staffers etc.

    In India people run for political office so that they can use the office to acquire wealth and power.

    My personal opinion on corruption being so high in Asia is because of the "value-system".

    Example : An Indian will be ashamed if his unmarried daughter goes out a night and hangs out with young men. In fact the whole family's reputation will be destroyed.

    But an Indian who works for the government like a IAS officer who acquires crores and crores of corrupt money is still looked upon as a pillar of society by the masses. He is not looked upon as a scumbag, despite the obvious signs that he is a corrupt like the palatial mansion he owns, etc.

    So what does that say to any young individual Indian guy: If you daughter is screwing a guy on the side, you entire family reputation is destroyed, but if you steal 10 crores from the taxpayer - you are still respected, and in fact your newly acquired wealth gives you even more respect and power in India.

    There is no social penalty for being a low-life scumbag public official who steals from the taxpayer. When Indian society starts treating the corrupt filthy rich IAS officer or politician like a pariah - then things will change. When common decent tax-paying citizens tell the corrupt politicians and officials that I will never let my son or daughter marry anyone in your family - then things will change.

    Unless these people are tuned into social outcasts - nothing will change in India.

    For Indians and Chinese and other Asian cultures, their morality and values are only based on loyalty to family and the personal behavior of their family members. The word "Ethics" and "Social values" simply does not exist in the Asian vocabulary.

    Nobody cares how you make your money - whether you steal, cheat, or extort.
    Its different in the West.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2011
  17. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    Mattster I agree with you that corruption is accepted and viewed as being successful in the East. But look at the current recession here in USA ;and what brought it, (without going to much off topic). It was a chain of corruption from politicians to bankers to mortgage dealers to homebuilders and unsuspecting buyers (with poor credit) bringing the mortgage crisis and the current economic mess.
     
  18. Rage

    Rage DFI TEAM Stars and Ambassadors

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  19. mattster

    mattster Respected Member Senior Member

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    The analogy does not work.

    I think you misunderstood the whole subprime mortgage crisis. Sure there were greedy bankers involved - but the key ingredient that fueled the sub-prime crisis was the reduction in loan standards, and the government desire to make home ownership affordable to all its citizens. This combined with a host of financial instruments designed to take the sub-prime loans and collaterize them and sell them to foreign and local banks is what created this mess. The access to easy capital from places like China also contributed to the lax loan standards by creating all kinds of exotic home loans like 5 year ARM, etc. The government liked it because the fueled spending and kept the growth rate up and unemployment low.

    Add to that the fact that financial regulatory bodies have increasingly been understaffed and gutted mainly by republican governments under their theory of "all government intervention in free markets is bad".

    There were hardly any politicians or government officials who were directly involved in the subprime mess. Off-course if you listen to the hard-right propaganda - you may get a different idea. You can blame the Fed for keeping interest rates too low but thats a matter of opinion or you can blame Fannie mae and Freddie Mac but even that is debatable.

    Sure there were greedy real-estate sleazebags to took advantage of naive people and bankers who rode the bull all the way to the bank.
    But people buying $500K homes with a $50K a year salary should have enough sense to know they cant afford it.
    It was poorly designed system with lax monitoring that collapsed under its own weight. It wasnt a huge conspiracy to defraud the government.


    But that is not the same as in India where public officials amass(flat out steal) huge amounts public taxpayer money. And it happens all the way from the CM office to the lowest peon. This is endemic corruption. Only when you go to the cabinet level do you see some honest people in India.

    You will not see that type of corruption in the US or most Western democracies. If the US had the type of corruption you see in parts of Asia - it would have never emerged as a superpower. There is corruption among public officials but it is small potatoes compared to what you see in Asia.

    I always tell my American friends who complain about corruption this - "You guys have never seen what real corruption is, this stuff is peanuts compared to what happen in Asia".
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2011
  20. thakur_ritesh

    thakur_ritesh Administrator Administrator

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  21. johnee

    johnee Elite Member Elite Member

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    No corruption is not in our roots. Dharma is in our roots. Corruption is a disease that has gripped us and let us free ourselves from it. But lets not confuse corruption as our roots.
     

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