MAIL FROM SANJEEV ON "Corruption"
Date: Sat, 18 Apr 1998 09:50:10 -0700 (PDT)
I know what I am asking is virtually impossible. All of us are too busy.
But before I reply at length on the corruption issue (and this is one on
which I have much to say), I would request anyone who has the time or
inclination to go to:
and click on the term paper entitled "Six Propositions and Recommendations
on bureaucratic corruption in government organizations of Less Developed
Countries, with focus on India," which I wrote almost exactly one year
ago. Please press the shift key while downloading. You will get a
Microsoft Word edition of the paper which can then be read, if you like.
Also, preliminary material that I am writing for the book is available at:
That also gives come news-reports on this topic that were compiled (mostly
sent in by friends all over the world) after Spring '97.
Thanks for your interest and patience. This topic has been buring me from
day one of my life in the civil service, and I think I see the light at
the end of the tunnel now after many, many years. I will share some of
these findings with the members later in the day or tomorrow.
MAIL FROM SANJEEV ON "Corruption"
Date: Sun, 19 Apr 1998 11:03:31 -0700 (PDT)
Not much time to devote to corruption, today, but thought I'd send off a
brief (!) note.
Kush's hyothesis: "socialism has nothing to do with ideology"
> Sanjeev seem to be saying that corruption in India is because of
> socialistic thinking. I am saying that socialism is just a facade
> for corruption, In other words, corruption has nothing to do with any
> ideology. Rather corruption has only one "ideology" which is personal
> greed (sometimes necessity) and opportunity for corruption which an
> unaccountable system provides.
To test this hypothesis, we will have to frame the argument as follows:
Hypothesis 1: Indians are genetically corrupt. Hence it is immaterial
what system of government you put them in. They will
always be corrupt. Particularly greedy, these Indian
Hypothesis 2 (more refined):
Indians are not all genetically corrupt, but there is
a law of self-selection operating here, in that only
the corrupt enter government service. The law of
self-selection operates irrespective of the government
system that you operate in. The very word "government"
will ensure that Indians will fall into two lines:
a) the corrupt will fall into the line headed by the
flag called "government"
b) the non-corrupt will fall into the line headed by
the flag called "private sector."
In other words, diagramatically, the Kush model reads as follows:
Indians Grp I -----> Black box of ----> Result is the same
(genetically corrupt) government since only
corrupt join govt.
Indians Grp II -----> Black box of -----> genetically honest
(genetically honest) government and never greedy
The black box of govt can include ANY form of govt. (communism, socialism,
capitalism, fascism, anarchy)
Marx's model was that it is the industrialists who are genetically greedy
and the workers are chaste, pure, humanitarian and good. The Kush model
makes a similar argument, but discriminates on the fact whether you are a
government servant or not.
Sanjeev's (Economic) model:
In my model, derived from the discipline called economics which studies
how wealth has been created and is created, three assumptions apply to ALL
a) All human beings want more of what they value than less (i.e., they
are greedy). Children might want more of a pony ride, Mother Teresa may
want to save the soul of more people, and you and I may want a more clean
environment (less pollution). All of us will, given the choice of chosing
between equally "clean" $10 and $100, will choose $100.
b) All human beings are opportunistic. In other words, they all have
"guile." Starting from our epics like Mahabharat and Ramayan, right upto
the current day, when a very "simple," politically untrained, Italian girl
(now Indian), called Sonia Gandhi suddenly "kicked out" our old man Kesri
who was unprepared for the fact that his "own" appointees to the CWC will
change color behind his back, ALL human beings are and will remain
opportunistic. Beware of even the most simple shephard (not necessarily in
a negative sense, though).
c) All human beings are boundedly rational. In other words no one knows
everything about everything else. Hence they take "maximizinig" decisions
based on uncertainty and incomplete knowledge. Consciously they are
always "maximizing" their own welfare, never minimiziing it though the
results may be quite to the contrary.
All these human laws are derived from the laws of nature. In nature, no
animal that does not do the above things, will or can, survive. The result
of any single one of these motivations might not always be obvious as
people apply a combination (also called strategy). Therefore when a king
is very good to his people (as recommended by Chanakya) that does not
violate the first law; it simply is an opportunisitic (strategic) way of
continuing to get the support of his people and to thwart his enemies. If
a king were a fool enough to be not good to his people (as Aurangzeb was),
he will lead to his own downfall or the downfall of his future dynasty.
In my model human beings can be "chanelled" into socially constructive
activities only by devising a system of checks and balances, including
incentives, to ensure that people do what is expected of them.
My hypothesis is:
All Indians are genetically greedy and opportunisitic, like anyone else in
the world. Therefore their observed behavior depends almost completely on
the system which they operate in (i.e., the Black Box above makes a huge
difference on the outcome).
Socialism ---> great role for government in business (including industry)
+ very low wages to all levels of decision-makers
----> a general temptation to squeeze out public funds for
private gain, by government functionaries.
----> Given the opportunity (which is always there),
the vast majority of the government becomes "corrupt"
As per this hypothesis, there is no self-selection operating which makes
the corrupt join government, and the honest folk to stay outside it. In
fact it does not matter whom you put into the government. Provide them
with a greater role to interfere in private affairs and to build cloth
mills, and pay them a low salary. Invariably, and for sure, in all
societies everywhere (not only in India), this "mix" will lead to corrupt
We all know that people compare our government functionaries with the time
when the British were there. Our bureaucracy was never as corrupt, then.
But we never had socialism, then, either... This also shows that Indians
are not genetically corrupt.
Nehru was himself never corrupt, but his greatest bane was the growing
corruption in government all around him. Go to Bhakra Nangal Dam and you
will still find his admonition to the engineers not to be corrupt. He was
completely blank as far as economics was concerned (or even politics: look
at his shock when China attacked us: of course, they would. Why would they
not?). He did not realize that the socialism that had led to great
corruption and even massacres of innocent people in USSR (he was a great
fan of Stalin, can you believe that!), was going to do the same to India.
His daughter and his grandchildren were of course blissfully unaware of
anything at all (Nehru had a truly great understanding of India's past, at
least, and had done much to bring us freedom). When we have top ranking
economists in the world like Bhagwati, Srinivasan and even Sen, trying to
tell these folk that their path is destined to lead India to disaster
(1991, by the way, was a disaster of mammoth proportions), these
mystified, confused, and power-drunk progeny of Nehru did not have the
intellectual capability to understand their sound advice.
In my hypothesis, therefore, it is the form of government **creates**
corruption out of the usual human traits of "greed, opportunism and
I insist that all Indians are greedy, opportunistic and boundedly rational
[individual differences might exist in the level of these traits]. I also
insist that **no** Indian was born corrupt. All corruption that we see
around us (at the cutting edge level of ticket collectors in trains,
police mamas, delhi development authority, and at higher levels like the
Defence Secretary Mr. Bhatnagar who took money in the Bofors case [by the
way, for those folk who might not be aware, my father was the Additional
Secretary to the GOI, and the number two or three man in defence finance
for many years and he knew of Bhatnagar's involvement right through, in
the Bofors case. He also told me of the activities of many other top
bureucrats and politicians. When I talk of corruption, I not only talk
from my own experience in Assam where a Chief Minister wanted money from
me, indirectly, but from my father's experiences in Andhra Pradesh where
the then Chief Minister asked for contributions from the public sector
company my father was in, and so on...]) was created from the socialistic
system we have adopted.
There are some folk who need very little (like my father, whose needs are
quite small). These people do not become corrupt in any system. There are
others who are so strongly offended by corruption that they will never
participate in corruption. But I wish to point out that these few folk can
only be a minority. Most people's needs are increasing all over the world.
When an average worker in the USA has a car and a house, why should our
average DDA clerk aspire for less? Therefore, by giving enormous powers
and low salaries to people who are intrinsically greedy and opportunistic,
we create the monster called corruption all around us.
I am not saying that coming down heavily on corruption is a waste of time.
It does help, for a few weeks or a few months even. But unfortunately, we
live longer lives than that, and simply taking draconian measures against
our corrupt people will not solve any problem. It comes back as soon as
these strong measures are slackened, and when it comes back, it comes back
with "vengeance," strengthened and even more greedy.
Instead, we have to go for the standard economic model of bureaucracy
(Niskanen, Douglas North, and others), and follow the path of Singapore.
a) Change the system completely by eliminating govt. involvement in almost
all business activities.
b) Pay the law makers, judges, and bureucrats (at all levels) higher and
still higher salaries, as economic growth increases. Today, a typical IAS
officer gets hundreds of times less than his counterpart used to get
before Independence. That is not a sure way to increase honesty in the
IAS. Among the faculty at the National Academy of Admn. in 1994, one of
the most burning topics of discussion among us was the higher and yet
higher levels of corruption among the young IAS officers the moment they
are released into the field. Self-selection is now beginning to operate, I
think. As salaries in the civil services plummet, the people who join it
are more and more clear that they will have to "make up" through other
I am not saying that corruption will disappear when these things are done,
but that it will come down to such low levels that we could even live with
it, and in any case, it would become much easier to take strong steps
against the corrupt (such as maiming them in public!) without causing a
Therefore we need to change the system, not simply kill off our corrupt
folk (as Kush's argument might lead us to conclude).
These are difficult topics and the solution is pointing clearly to one
path: get rid of socialism and adopt "capitalism," and standard economic
theory. That way, growth will happen, corruption will go, and poverty
will be completely eliminated (in Korea it took only 10 years of
capitalism to almost completely eliminate poverty). We can then talk of
how exploitative the system is, who is suffering from the greed of our
industrialists, etc. At least will be spared from the greed of DDA
clerks, and the torture of being led by leaders who have barely passed
CHARU’s REPLY FOR SANJEEV’s MAIL ON "Corruption"
Date: Sun, 19 Apr 1998 17:21:48 -0400
My views lean towards Kush's: Power corrupts, regardless of the form of
I do not find Sanjeev's arguments persuasive that socialism is the
cause of corruption. If this were the case, then we should be able to
observe all capitalist societies free of corruption. How does that stack
up the corrupt yet capitalist societies of Japan, or even more glaringly
Indonesia? (Or for that matter the central and Latin American former US
satellites like Haiti, El Salvador, Guatemala, or Chile?) And how does
the corruption in those countries compare with corruption in say Cuba or
I don't have hard numbers to answer these questions but based on what I
can glean from current news reports there is plenty of corruption
regardless of the form of government. This is also not to say that I
advocate the totalitarianism of the governments in Cuba or China any
more than I would the recent governments of South Korea. While we're
talking about different forms of government I may as well observe that
Fascism is if nothing else extremely efficient- when Mussolini ran
Italy, the trains ran on time (as they did in India under Sanjay Gandhi)
and there was no crime in fascist Italy either- Mussolini didn't want
competition from the Mafia so he smashed them.
Something else to ponder is that in the US, much of what would be
labeled corruption in India is considered perfectly respectable. An
example that comes to mind is Bush's "100 Club". This was a group of
political contributors that paid Bush 100K or more. Altogether this
group contributed several tens of millions of dollars. In exchange Bush
would push legislation favorable to their interests, one very obvious
example was the capital gains tax cut which if it had passed would have
benefited the members of the club to the tune of $30 billion within a
I'll concede that apparent and petty corruption in the US is a lot lower
than in India is probably among the lowest in the world but this IMO is
more a result of a civil society where representative social
institutions and pressure of public opinion is powerful enough that
exposure of corruption can lead to tangible consequences.
If the local people in a district in India had the power to kick out a
corrupt IAS officer in India I'm sure they would do so and corruption
would decrease. If the populace is powerless the corrupt official has no
incentive to change his/her behavior. I believe this model is applicable
anywhere regardless of the form of government.
To me this discussion comes down to the question- what is the role of
government? The form of government you chose would flow from that.
My personal view is that in any society some individuals and groups will
accumulate power/wealth/resources disproportionate to their numbers,
This can have many reasons- ambition, ability, opportunism, a culture
that happens to fit well with the current conditions, or historical
accident. I don't see this as a necessarily bad thing, it does become
detrimental to the society as a whole when it restricts opportunities
for others in society to also seek their pursuit of wealth.
For example, the fact that someone's great grand father was very
successful in terrorizing all his neighbors and laying claim to all
irrigated land in a village is not a good reason that his descendants
should be able to enjoy the benefits of the land and deprive all other
people of that community.
The role of a __representative__ Government (democracy?) then is to
level the playing field towards the ideal that anyone with the ambition,
drive, ability, and the hard work, has the same opportunity to succeed
and their ability to participate in the government is not predicated on
wealth and pre-existing power regardless of background. I believe that a
purely market driven society will become the kind of government
advocated by John Hancock during the drafting of the US constitution
where he proposed that "The government of a country should be done by
those who own the country". Don't laugh, many US states up into this
century had laws on the books that required a minimum asset value
ownership as a precondition to the right to vote.
The way a representative government levels the playing field is by
acting as an agent of _all_ the members of the society thus sometimes
acting as a check and counterbalance to non-representative powers such
as corporations, or even partially representative but disproportionately
powerful organizations for example some unions. The key to keeping a
government representative is accountability- availability of information
on what it does and responsiveness to those it claims to represent.
After all this I suppose I should also state my position on markets.
Markets are useful mechanism in that they tend to have an extremely
rapid response to inputs by their participants. In an ideal society,
every member in society would have some stake in the market, so that
collective will of the people was expressed vary rapidly by market
positioning. However, as long as income disparities remain huge, a large
proportion of the population is locked out of any significant
participation and until the disparity is reduced the market players will
be a small group who in the absence of regulation from entities of
significant power will compete, collude, manipulate only to their own
benefit and benefit to the rest of society will only be accidental.
Now to respond to some of the economic theory discussed here I'll quote
Adam Smith. He said that "... the worst enemy of free capitalism is a
successful capitalist". It's been stated before and I agree that the
evidence supports this that un-regulated capitalism creates oligopolies.
Since Marx was mentioned I'll throw in my own $0.02 worth. IMO, despite
his failed social theories his economic theories on capital were close
to the mark in that accumulation of wealth depends on the availability
of access to capital. A rather good demonstration of this is the
performance of Mohammed Yunus's Grameen bank in Bangladesh where the
availability of micro-credit loans has enabled large numbers of people
to liquidate their debt and raise their living standards and the loan
delinquency rate is lower than any commercial bank.
To get back to some of the specific's we've discussed so far:
Minimum wages- I would favor there being a minimum wage. I don't think
it takes a rocket scientist (or economics Ph.D. ;-)) to figure out what
is fair- I would propose that if a wage paid is inadequate to support
basic needs of food shelter or clothing for one person ( I would favor a
wage that supports two but that is negotiable) it is too low. If some
economic enterprise cannot pay its workers at least a support wage it is
not worth doing. This formula would probably come out with a pretty low
number and would have some geographic variation that can be
rationalized, but again this is not rocket science. My view is that if
it is reasonable then most employers will be inclined to pay it.
Corruption: it is not about to go away. It can be minimized by
maximizing exposure of such information and making public officials
accountable to their constituents i.e. being periodically accessible for
q&a and making the penalties for corruption meaningful. I would also
allocate further de-regulation of broadcast news media with government
grants for community organizations to have their own radio station and
video production facilities with cable operators are required to carry
Attendant issues I would consider are land reform and estate tax.
I just received Utkarsh's mail, where he said this discussion is getting
too theoretical. I agree it's theoretical now but before we get
concrete, I suppose it would make sense to have some overall stated
purpose to so we can all focus are energies in that direction. Could
someone clarify (or if I missed something in earlier discussions, could
someone remind me?)
SANJEEV’s REPLY FOR THE ABOVE MAIL :
Date: Sun, 19 Apr 1998 14:53:30 -0700 (PDT)
> My views lean towards Kush's: Power corrupts, regardless of the form of
What! Am I not saying precisely that, all along? That people are
universally greedy (want more than less), opportunitistic (will misuse
power when given the opportunity, etc.) ...
Therefore I am afraid of Socialism; not because of its "noble ideals" but
because of the higher scope it gives to misuse power. All forms of govt.
lead to misuse of power. But democracy is the best. Else we might advocate
dictatorship, if you like. There are huge differences in the outcomes
for the people between different forms of government.
Similarly, all forms of economic systems lead to corruption. But
capitalism (suitably moderated: as I have been stating all along), leads
to two clear reasons for reduction in corruption:
a) the people become rich, therefore the "need-based" corruption, as
someone mentioned earlier, is reduced. Hence you find - in all capitalist
societies, that low level corruption such as from DDA clerks, is reduced
or virtually eliminated.
b) the goverment does not capture the people's capital through things like
nationalization and does not interefere much in other people's business.
That drastically reduces the opportunity for corruption.
Corruption can never be eliminated, but by getting rid of socialism, we
will minimize it. By the way, there is a huge empirical literature which
clearly shows the strong relationship between higher wages and lower
corruption. In socialistic societies, higher wages are considered a sin:
there is no hope of reducing corruption in such societies. The USSR was
the most corrupt society in the world before it broke up, according to my
father, who had travelled virtually all over the world, as Addl. Secy in
the defence ministry.
We cannot mix up lobbying by various groups, by official use of funds
(these are publicly declared funds), as in the USA, with the underhand and
surrpetitious misuse of power as in India.
I don't quite follow. Most of the people on this list are advocating
privatization, increasing wages of lawmakers and others, and yet find it
relevant to bring in the cases of Cuba and China - two major failed
experiments of the socialistic world (these are dictatorships, anyway, and
have nothing much to do with socialism in the way Marx saw it. China's
success in the last 20 years, if you remember, was entirely brought in by
following free market policies in the Southern provinces).
Why do we care for China? Or for India for that matter? These are failed
experiments which are rotting on the sidelines of the world. We must look
at the West, Japan, Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, even Indonesia. There is no
perfect capitalism and we will have to evolve one of our own, but to even
support socialism while advocating the need to reduce corruption, is very
strange, if I may be permitted to say.
I really don't understand the resistance we have to follow economic
thinking. Economist have spent lifetimes carefuly studying the
institutions that led to the creation of wealth. If engineers are the best
judges of the strength of a structural bridge, and doctors are the best
judge of a person's health, then economists (not Marxian political
economists, whose fundamental assumptions of human nature are completely
flawed, in that they glorify the good nature of workers) can at least be
considered as speaking some sense when they talk of the causes of economic
KUSH REPLIES :
Date: Sun, 19 Apr 1998 19:12:37 -0700 (PDT)
Sanjeev, I did not quite understand this alternative hypothesis. Let
me reiterate: Corruption has nothing to do with genes or political
ideology. Corruption is a direct result of the system--a system which
has no public accountablity, has no transperancy and provides ample
opportunity to everyone in the system to steal public's money without
any noticeable consequences. Neither genes nor ideology is responsible.
I do not know how many on the list are familiar with the corruption
which was so prevalent at the local level here in United States up
until the second world war (in some cities like Chicago even later)
that it matched that of India, Mexico and Nigeria (the three top
corrupt countries today!). As in India, bribery was as common and
local chiefs (Mayors, Sherifs, even the attorney generals and of
course the police) had their "cut" set in all deals--it was usually
called the "graft." Two things happened that ended this sorry state
of affairs. One was a powerful, grassroots level reform movement and
the introduction of technology, professionalism and modern accounting
systems. Yes, another thing that helped were strong associations of
professioinals (government accountants and managers who were tired of
this corruption of culture).
Therefore, corruption is not that difficult to eliminate as it seems.
What, however, is difficult is how do you change the attitudes of
those who are inside the system and those who are outside? What
frightens me vis-a-vis India is not the massive problem of corruption
(because I am confident that can end with the right system and
institutions) but what frightens me is the lackadaisical attitude of
the people toward corruption. Even the educated think, it exists
everywhere and in ALL countries. Yet if you ask any immigrants, for
example, to give specific examples of corruption from their lives here
in the United States or Canada, examples are terribly lacking. By
eliminatioin of corruption is not meant, that there will ever come a
time when a few people will not try stealing money and resources. But
there does come a stage when most people do not do that kind of a
stuff because it becomes too risky (not because they have turned
saints or have become genetically superior). That is what I mean by
SANJEEV REPLIES FOR KUSH :
Date: Mon, 20 Apr 1998 03:18:39 -0700 (PDT)
I seem to get your point about a "system" but I am actually quite a bit
lost about what are its characteristics. I think we are now going far
afield into an unknown territory. I admit that I have very little
knowledge of USA's level of corruption in the pre-WW period. My recent
trip to Chicago clearly showed me that Chicago was very bustling and
rapidly growing city in the early 20th century. About its corruption, I
don't know much.
On the other hand, statistics indicate that except for a brief period of
about 10 years following the Depression, the US has seen very rapid growth
of per capita incomes since early nineteenth century. I am also aware of
the huge debates against government intervention that were raging in this
nation at all times. If this country was growing so rapidly, people were
getting richer all the time, then what adverse effect was this
"corruption" having? It seems that it was having a benign effect, instead
of an adverse one! I am not going to discuss political issues like
discrmination against blacks, women and those without property. I am only
looking at economic outcomes.
I am also quite unaware of the grassroots level reform movements that you
refer to (which apparently helped remove this corruption). I would be
grateful for any studies that establish the influence of such movements,
if any, on the economic growth of this nation, as well as on its
corruption level. I also need references or more specific data on "strong
associations of professionals (government accountants and managers who
were tired of this corruption of culture)." Anyway, how does a strong
association of professionals remove corruption of a DDA clerk? Please
However, I would strongly suggest that we revert to logical premises. I
repeat my earlier argument, hopefully more clearly:
Corruption can either be caused by inherent (genetic) causes or by
environmental causes. This covers all possible causes.
Human being --> Black box ----> Outcome
If the contents of the black box matters (which is what I am saying) then
outcomes can be changed by changing the system.
If the black box does not matter, then we can dispense with the box:
Human being ---> Outcome
i.e., the outcome is determined by the genes of the individual.
You have to have one of these models. It cannot be neither this nor that.
If the system matters, then you have to define the system in terms of the
opportunties and incentives it creates. Ideology is not the issue here.
The specification of the system is. Hence, please specify your system more
clearly. What are the specs of the system in India today that lead to
> Yet if you ask any immigrants, for example, to give specific
> examples of corruption from their lives here in the United States or
> Canada, examples are terribly lacking.
This, in my opinion, properly reflects what not only I have observed, but
hundreds of observers have noted. Not only about USA but about all Western
Yet I do not believe for a moment that the Western societies are
genetically blessed with 'honest genes.' Instead, these countries have
worked hard and debated much, to develop two institutions: one is called
democracy and the other is called capitalism.
1. In capitalistic societies, opportunties for corruption are dramatically
reduced as the government withdraws from running businesses itself, and
lets people do what they want within very broad restraints. In socialistic
societies like India, the reverse is the case.
2 In capitalistic societies, incentives for corruption are dramatically
reduced. The method is very simple: high wages, and instantaneous
penalties if found to be corrupt.
This debate on the system we want to have for India is fundamental. That
is why I am not 'letting go,' here.
Finally, I want to ask a few questions:
a) Do we want India to resemble the USA or to resemble North Korea?
b) Which embassy in India has huge lines of people wanting to get visas to
that country? USA or Cuba? If so, why?
c) If you are working or studying in the USA, why are you here and not in
China, or in Cuba, for that matter? If you think the US is a socialistic
country, then why don't you go to much greater socialistic countries like
China or North Korea to get a better treatment from dictators, lesser
corruption, and a higher minimum wage?
Let me revert to words that some of us seem more comfortable with. India
has been saved from the terrible disasters of China, Cuba and N.Korea by
virtue of having at least some private sector (we had Fabian socialism,
not full socialism). Therefore we had some, minor growth, before the
'liberalization' of the mid-80s and early 90s. The moment we went in for
more liberalization (capitalism) our economy boomed like a rocket and
poverty dropped like a brick. Strange but true: capitalism and economic
theory works in India too, just as it does everywhere else!
I am simply re-affirming that this is the direction to go in. Call it what
you like. Put in more and more economic theory. More and more econometric
studies showing what is related to what. More and more scientific
research. All of these point toward (a) opening the economy (b) minimizing
the role of government in business (c) increasing the role of government
in building the right institutions and incentives (d) paying wages
sufficiently high (not outlandishly high) to attract the best into public
Apart from these of course are the issues related to education as already
pointed out by Utkarsh, and so on.
I think the time has come for someone (Puneet?) to start compiling a draft
Manifesto/ Agenda. If possible, I will spend some time on this too. Then
we can debate more specific things.
KUSH REPLIES :
Date: Mon, 20 Apr 1998 15:48:26 -0700 (PDT)
Sanjeev, your points are well taken. Corruption is "benign" to those
who benefit from the system. Otherwise, corruption always has
adversial effects. Keep in mind, the reson why, US could still grow
(like you rightly said) is because economic power was not controlled
by the Central (federal) govt. The States had full autonomy over
their economic destinies. Therefore, central control that has stifled
things at the states level in India, did not happen, and indeed, could
not happen in the United States. I do not intend to be too
elementary, but as everybody knows that the central or federal
government was created by the original States or colonies. In India,
there were no states. And I can understand that power had to be
concentrated at the center, in the beginning, for security reasons.
But over the years, the Central government instead of letting go
gradually, did the very opposite.
In addition to states, the local governments in the United States have
always been strong--in fact, that has been the strength of the
Americal democracy. I have been reading Tocqueville's "Democracy in
America" (not an easy read, so I will not recommend the book, unless
you are seriously interested in the history of democracy in America),
Tocqueville coming from France, was flabbergasted by the fact how
much "power" local governments (which always had a democratically
elected setup) had, and how much Americans were involved in their
local governments. Please note, that even though on paper local
governments in America, receive their powers from their respective
State government, the jurisdictions, and territories are well defined.
There are very few examples of State governments "meddling" with
THIS DECENTRALIZATION OF POWER IS WHAT WE SHOULD FOCUS ON NEXT.
Apart from this division of power, the other reason why corruption was
"benign" to a certain degree was, that governments never got into the
running of businesses. The government had the same respect for
landlords and business that they had for different jurisdictions.
The next important issue that you have raised is about the SYSTEM.
What is this system that I keep talking about? A very good question.
But as this post has already become long please allow me to address
that in my next post. Regards,
Kush Khatri, D.C.
A JOKE FROM KUSH
Date: Wed, 22 Apr 1998 13:27:38 -0700 (PDT)
Since the list has been quiet, I though I'll send this "application
form" which was circulating for prospective candidates to the Indian
parliamentary elections. I though it was funny. Hope it doesn't
Application form to contest in Indian constitutional elections
> >> .
> >> 1. Name of Candidate : _______________________
> >> 2. Present Address
> >> (i) Name of Jail : _______________________
> >> (ii) Cell Number : _______________________
> >> (If not in Jail, attach proof of residence)
> >> 3. Political Party : _______________________
> >> (List ONLY the Last Five parties in the Chronological Order)
> >> 4. Sex : [ ]
> >> A - Male
> >> B - Female
> >> C - Jayalalitha
> >> D - Lalloo
> >> 5. Nationality : [ ]
> >> A - Italian
> >> B - Indian
> >> 6. Reasons for leaving last party (circle one or more)
> >> A - Defected
> >> B - Expelled
> >> C - Bought out
> >> D - None of above
> >> E - All of above
> >> 7. Reasons for contesting elections (circle one or more)
> >> A - To make money
> >> B - To escape court trial
> >> C - To grossly misuse power
> >> D - To serve the public
> >> E - I have no clue
> >> (if you choose "D"- attach Certificate of Sanity from a
Recogonised Government Psychiatrist)
> >> 8. How many years of public service experience do you possess
> >> A - 1-2 yrs
> >> B - 2-6yrs
> >> C - 6-15yrs
> >> D - 15+yrs
> >> 9. Give details of any criminal cases pending against you
(Use as many Additional Sheets as you want)
> >> 10. How many years have you spent in Jail ? [ ]
> >> (Do not confuse with question 8)
> >> A - 1-2 years
> >> B - 2-6 years
> >> C - 6-15 years
> >> D - 15+years
> >> 11. Are you involved in any financial scams ? [ ]> >> A -
> >> B - Of Course
> >> C - Definitely
> >> D - I deny it all
> >> E - see a foreign hand.
> >> 12. What is your Annual Corruption Income ? [ ]
> >> A - 100-500 Crores
> >> B - 500-1000 Crores
> >> C - Overflow...
> >> (Note: Convert all your $ earning from Hawala etc into Rupees)
> >> 14. Do you have any developmental plans for the country in
> >> A - No
> >> B - No
> >> C - No
> >> D - No
> >> 15. Describe in space provided, your achievements :
> >> _________________
> >>Thumb Impresssion of candidate (Not that of the person who filled
MAIL FROM SANJEEV ON "corruption/ ethics"
Date: Fri, 1 May 1998 09:49:14 -0700 (PDT)
In my previous note on the "corruption" prevailing in the health insurance
system in the USA, an objection was raised that this would not quite be
corruption, since it involves doctors and insurance companies. Well, the
thing I wanted to highlight was that human nature here in the USA is not
particularly more ethical than that of an Indian, in general. Given
adequate secrecy, and opportunity, humans will cheat, here as well as in
I just came across a case which would confirm this in the context of
governmental "corruption." In a discussion on parking meter thefts, it was
stated: "New York City, which has 67,000 meters - the most in the nation
- has suffered a number of scandals involving collectors arrested for
theft. Several years ago, nearly half of the city's collection workers
were charged with pocketing some of the change." (LA times, 5/1/98)
The method of "preaching" to people not to be corrupt never worked and
will never work anywhere. Kautilya (I believe) has much to say about fish
in the water, sucking in water, etc.
There are perhaps two primary ways of eliminating corruption: (a) minimize
the direct role of government in business (i.e., reduce the opportunities)
and (b) increase salaries (increase the opportunity cost of being kicked out
of the job). Even if only the very top layer of government is payed
**grossly** disproportionate to its actual workload, then you would have
ensured honesty at the top (this was the argument when the Indian Civil
Service was started in the 1800s, and this actually did work), and these
honest can keep the lower functionaries in check.
Of course, management of government must be as transparent as possible. We
have been talking of that all along.