TODAY -

Corruption thy name is India ! Destination Swiss Banks
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: June 04, 2011 -



Indians are corrupt. We may also add selfish here. Everyone, with an opinion in India, agrees that corruption is the biggest stumbling block to development and every second or third Indian must have experienced the uncomfortable position of having to bribe one's way to get a file moving or get the license to start building a multi-storeyed building on a piece of prime property in one of the happening cities of the country.

This observation has not come merely from the basis of talks doing the round in the local chai hotel or in the fish market, but from experience coupled with statistics, compiled by international organisations of repute. As per the findings of Transparency International, India continues to be viewed as one of the most corrupt Nations in the world, to be ranked 87 among 180 Nations in 2010 while in 2009 it ranked 84 and 85 in 2008.

Corruption is also most visible in the Government sector, where the only language understood is money and more money. Even to get a file moving from one table to the other, one need to grease the palms of the people who have a say in its movement, right from the level of the Minister to the officials to the clerical staff. Mobile phones have replaced land lines and waiting for one's turn to get a phone connection may well be a thing of the past, but till today, for those who have land lines, it means running from pillar to post and greasing the palms of the people concerned to get a line corrected in case anything goes wrong with the connection.

It is the same when one has to get the license or permission to build a multi storeyed building, despite the fact that the days of the License Raj are passe' and have no bearing as it was three decades ago. In fact so widespread has corruption become that even institutions such as the Defence establishment, is today no longer free from the scourge of corruption.

The stench over the Adarsh Housing scam still hangs heavy in the air and heads are expected to roll. It was corruption which nearly reduced India to a laughing stock in front of the international community, when the Commonwealth Games was hosted in Delhi last year.

After tell tale signs started emerging and skeletons started tumbling out of the Commonwealth Games closet, the Government moved, cracked the whip and today the then chairman of the Indian Olympic Association, who helmed the preparations to host the Commonwealth games, Suresh Kalmadi is cooling his heels behind bars in Tihar Jail.

A number of prominent personalities, with wide political influence have also been nailed and put behind bars in the 2G Spectrum scam and more heads are expected to roll. If these are the cases which have made news all over the country, there must be many, many more such similar cases, which have been given the quiet burial.

An estimate of black money stashed away in Swiss banks by Indians, is somewhat of an eye opener. According to statistics and reports coming out from the people who are in the know, the total amount of money stashed away in Swiss banks by Indians is a whopping 1500 billion dollars.

This is supposed to be more than the total of the black money stashed away by the rest of world and constitutes 40 percent of the Gross Domestic Produce of India. In the west, particularly in the USA, tax evasion is a major crime and the penalty is stiff. No laughing matter here. The logic behind the strict application of taxes is basic and simple to understand.

Since the state has ensured the security, right to life and many other such benefits, it is only expected of the citizens to pay a fraction of the services offered by the Government. This is not only a question of showing gratitude through material means, but also entails the need to strike an emotional chord with what the country has done for the citizens.

In other words, this means the sentiments of Nationalism sweeping among the people. Going by the huge amount of black money stashed away by Indians, then can we say that it reflects to a certain extent the absence of a feeling of Nationalism amongst its citizens.

Does it say something about the culture of showing gratitude and reciprocating for a good deed done on our behalf ? Culture, religion and customs may undoubtedly play a major role in influencing a man's response to his country or Nation, just as religion played a major role in boosting the growth of industrialisation in the world.

Max Webber's seminal work, "The Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism," perhaps best explains the influence of religion on the growth of industrialisation during the industrial revolution. The existence of such a huge amount of money is also a reflection of how selfish certain people can be and there is nothing to crow about this.

Digesting this along with the knowledge that India still has a large number of hungry people, to whom starvation is not something new, will definitely be hard to any of the average Joe or Shyam. It is no wonder then that the proposed Lok Pal Bill has caught the imagination of quite a large number of Indians.

The huge support extended to Anna Hazare is a telling testimony of how corruption has affected the people of this country. The debate over whether the Prime Minister, the higher level of the judiciary etc should come under the ambit of the Bill is self explanatory and perhaps says why corruption is synonymous with India.





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