Sunday, August 12, 2012

Are Indians corrupt?

Sankrant Sanu's article from 2004 is still relevant.

PS: up-to-date link.

An excerpt:

The first major difference between the US and India is in the systems of governance. Traveling extensively in rural India, I find that the relationship and attitude of the people to the government is still that of a colonizing power, not something that either belongs to them or is in touch with their aspirations. After living in the US for many years, it is clear that there is a far higher degree of ownership and accountability of the local government to the local communities. Furthermore, the common citizen, for most of his or her needs, interfaces with the government in the local city or township rather than at the state or the national level. Power and accountability are devolved to a much greater level to the local administration. Also, American enterprise is far more privatized than is the case with India and there is less involvement of the government in daily life.

By contrast, in the Indian system, power is centralized to a much greater degree at the level of the national and state governments. Further, the centralized colonial state apparatus, right from its inception, was never designed to serve the people. As an example, the government official at the district level was called a collector, his primary role in the system was extortion, not service. Similarly, the power of the police apparatus devolved downwards as a means of control of the local population for the benefit of the rulers, not as an arm of the community for its own protection and service. The laws themselves were created and imposed in a top-down manner – and these laws were both alien to the people (the Indian penal code today is still based on the penal code created by the British in 1860, with a basis in the British system) and were created and directed for the benefit of the ruler, not the ruled. This included laws that outlawed many of the traditional sources of livelihood of the people, including textile manufacturing and metallurgy, as well as forms of traditional medicine to further the economic interests of the British.