Even God can’t help you (Corruption-II)
Not like that in ‘foreign countries
The world’s largest prison population will testify to Bhagwati’s assertion.
The biggest scams on earth, in the USA, will also confirm that sending minions to jail does not get rid of crime or corruption. Corruption is an ‘India only’ phenomenon, rests on a basic assumption that ‘foreign countries’ are better. Bhagwati leads the charge on this front.
Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize winning economist (2001) implies that all governments can be bought – but then he goes further. Stiglitz claims the ‘US has the best democratic government money can buy!’ In the august company of Jagdish Bhagwati are The New Chatteratti. Like Chetan Bhagat, who believe during the British Raj, nothing like corruption could have existed. They dive deeper.
the United States values wealth, competition, individualism and religion. These are pretty much core to the essence of American society and culture.
However, ask someone to articulate Indian community values, and there won’t be a clear answer. Do we value wealth or education? Do we value democracy where people have a greater say in how they are governed, or do we believe in power in the hands of a select few to whom the laws don’t apply? Do we value honesty, or do we value getting a job done anyhow? Do we believe in frugality, or do we want to show off our wealth? Do we value our local communities, or do we value being part of India?
There are conflicting responses to any of these questions in the India … I call it confusion. Values cannot be unpredictable, they are consistent. The past decade was spent by Indian society in a muddled set of values. A clear set of values … a lack of good values is why scams happen, nepotism exists and the government doesn’t care about its people.
The reason there is no concrete set of Indian values yet is that the concept of India itself is new. Just over six decades ago, there was no India. We had a collection of princely states, with kings and queens, which the British ruled at gunpoint. When the latter left, we loosely stitched these together, cut off a large chunk with partition and labelled the result India. (Read more: Adding values to life – The Times of India; parts excised for brevity).
It all boils down to a belief in ‘character-less Indians’. It’s not just Chetan Bhagat or Jagdish Bhgwati. Sharmila Tagore thinks that Indians are sexual deviants, lechers. Dipankar Gupta has a different take – Indians are ill-mannered. Of course, all these cognoscenti of Indian character are better than Indians – and also think that ‘foreigners’ are better!
Dirty, rotten, brown Indians!
In a manner of speaking, some Indians continue to live with a poor self image – the vacuum of self-esteem that that these worthies reflect so well. Our political leadership, fortunately, does not quite believe that they are the only corrupt ones. They should know better.
It was in response to Nobel economist Gunnar Myrdal’s famous observations on corruption in India in his three-volume tome, Asian Drama, that Indira Gandhi famously observed that “corruption is a global phenomenon”.(Sanjaya Baru: Corruption and development)
Some 10 years later,
In 1985, Rajiv Gandhi on his first foreign tour as prime minister (at) one of his press conferences was asked if civil servants in India were paid so low that corruption in government had become a big problem. “We have no evidence from the western countries that higher pay for civil servants has completely removed corruption there,” Mr Gandhi said. (parts excized; text in parenthesis supplied; A K Bhattacharya: Look afresh at cooling-off rules).
A multi-author study on international commerce and was more balanced
Despite popular belief, corrupt practices are not a developing country’s problem. It is global and affects both the developed and the developing … In a recent news item from the WBI published in April 2004 the cost of corruption in both rich and developing countries is estimated at $1000 billion ($1 trillion) a year. (from Issues in international commercial law By Iwan Davies).
A former Home Secretary, during the demolition of Babri Masjid, was Madhav Godbole. He writes in his book,
In line with Indira Gandhi’s famous remark, “corruption is a global phenomenon,” one could say that motivated campaigning through the media is also a global phenomenon (from Unfinished innings: recollections and reflections of a civil servant By Madhav Godbole).
Looking far … and further
Was the Lockheed Scandal more egregious than the Harshad Mehta Scam? Was Watergate more dangerous than The Lewinsky Affair? Of course, there were many other scandals – bigger or less famous. Emperor Bokassa’s diamonds to Valery Giscard d’Estaing. Hardly anyone remembers Valery Giscard d’Estaing and Bokassa’s diamonds. Or how Margaret Thatcher used her official position to obtain a Saudi arms deal for her son, Sir Mark Thatcher, which reputedly netted £12m (around US$17m). Mark Thatcher ‘coup’ shenanigans in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea.
Between WWI and WWII, many questions were raised in the British Parliament- and outside about Neville Chamberlain’s holdings in ICI, shares estimated at 11000. His son, Francis Chamberlain, had joined the Kynoch Works an old firm with which the Chamberlain family was associated. As also with BSA Company (Birmingham Small Arms) in which he was a director.
Joseph Kennedy, whose ‘career’ in Hollywood (after taking over a company by deceit), Wall Street, (he short-sold all his shares just before the October Crash that set of the Great Depression), bootlegging (in partnership with the mafia), was second to none. His son – the President, John F.Kennedy. But don’t ask Americans about the son of bootlegger who flouted the US Constitution many times – John F.Kennedy. After JFK’s killing, 60 years on, there are many suspects who had motives. Mafia tops this list.
It has always been a source of wonder to me how could Joseph Kennedy, a bootlegger and a friend of the mafiosi become SEC Chairman? And after that, could the Great Depression not drag on? It was always 2ndlook’s suspicion that Hank Paulson’s behaviour in the Lehman collapse is similar to Bootlegger Kennedy’s behaviour. And this now coming out all in the open!! This is very similar to Joseph Kennedy’s shorting the market before The Great Depression.
Joseph Kennedy got his leg up by funding the presidential campaign of Roosevelt – whose own family made their money from opium trade in China. For Kennedy’s support, Roosevelt rewarded Kennedy with appointment as Head of SEC (1934) and as US ambassador to Britain (1938). An interesting book traces the Great Depression to a clique of 40 bankers and politicians – including Kennedy, Churchill, Bernard M. Baruch etc. Jack Churchill, Winston Churchill’s brother, ‘airbrushed out of history’, had some role.
Jack Churchill emerges from this fascinating book as an engaging and honourable man who dealt well with the mixed blessing of having a very great man as an elder brother. He was a constant support to Winston, and was able to shield the family from some of the worst effects of the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression, although Winston never referred publicly to this.
More recently, we had the internet media agog with Dick Cheney and his misdeeds. His attempts to bribe Nigerian officials resulted in settlement offer of US$250m. (Finally, Dick Cheney seems to have got away. Was that with or without God’s help, Professor Bhagwati.).
Corruption and conspiracy
But all this is not corruption. These are conspiracy theories. In India, conspiracy theories become corruption. In the Great Land of USA, and much of the West, corruption is a Conspiracy Theory. Initially difficult to understand, but corruption-as-conspiracy has a simple explanation.
To understand this, we will have to go to Singapore. Where anything you say, write, print, about the rich and the powerful (called slander, libel and defamation). These are laws made for the ‘safety’ and ‘protection’ of the rich and powerful. A conviction will set you back by a few millions of dollars, euros, francs, pounds, et al. Unless you have rock-solid evidence.
Something that does not happen in India at all. Indian courts and jurisprudence, put very little value on slander, libel and defamation. Indian media gets the rub-of-the green. But more on that in my next post.
So, Shri Bhagat, Bhagwati & Co., before you leap, fly, dive, jump, run to conclusions about us ‘backward’ Indians, let me tell you something. While you stay with us, we would appreciate some civility. You do know that India’s doors are wide open. You can leave. Leave us backward Indians behind.
I promise, we wont miss you.
Corrupt border guards are not unique to India’s borders.
- Really, Mr.Bhagwati? (quicktake.wordpress.com)
- India PM vows to fight corruption (bbc.co.uk)
- Chetan Bhagat on whether India’s youth is selfish (ibnlive.in.com)
- How the massive power outage played out on Twitter (ndtv.com)
- Young India wants jobs, girls, social status: Bhagat (ibnlive.in.com)
- * India can win gold for corruption, Guru Ramdev says (chindia-alert.org)
- Escape to victory, from India to the U.S. (thehindu.com)
- Tax evasion aided by global inertia (bbc.co.uk)
- ‘Pursuit of knowledge is an end in itself’ (thehindu.com)