Atanu Dey On India's Development

Absolute corruption and absolute power

Just a few weeks ago, we learnt that the KGB poured cash into the pockets Indian communist leaders and handsomely bribed the leaders of the Congress Party which was then under the control of Indira Gandhi. This past week we learn from UN sponsored investigation that Natwar Singh and the same Congress Party led by Sonia Gandhi has been bribed rather handsomely by the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussain.

Is the Congress Party corrupt? It is like asking, is the Pope Catholic? Or asking, is Bill Gates rich? Or the more earthy question, does a bear shit in the woods?

The corruption of the Congress Party is not a new thing, however. In 1938, Sri Aurobindo wrote:

All this [referring to certain dishonest financial practices] promises a bad look-out when India gets purna Swaraj [full independence]. Mahatma Gandhi is having bad qualms about Congress corruption already.

Power corrupts, as Lord Acton famously observed, and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely. It is a nice aphorism but in India’s case, it is the corrupt that get power and the absolutely corrupt get absolute power.

I think that people seek political power in India fundamentally because it allows them to gain personally by corrupt means. The politicians are best placed to engage in corrupt practices because the economy is a command and control economy. So it is not that they become powerful and therefore later become corrupt. It is the other way around. It is the already morally and ethically bankrupt that seek power and attain it because they are corrupt. The honest and the good don’t have what it takes to reach the pinnacle of political power. They cannot compete with the criminal class from which the politicians rise to the top of the heap.

  • http://flexedviews.blogspot.com/ prasoon

    i fail to understand y the congress will be bribed by saddam – wat was he gaining?
    plz throw more light on what the report really says if u manage to get ur hands on it.. also, what seems quite irrational is how bjp demands resignation – was it done the same way when vajpayee was anmed in scams(like those where he allotted his relatives licenses to petrol pumps) – no right !! even he was, there were no stage marches etc which i’m sure bjp would be upto now..

  • sv

    The question then is, why do people keep electing politicians who are morally bankrupt? In a democracy, people are the ultimate bosses and the buck should stop with them. Of course, people may say, everybody politician is corrupt. I don’t think it’s an excuse: never vote for any MLA or M.P. who is corrupt or criminal; instead vote for an independent who has no bad record. Every constituency has at least a few independents contesting. That will send a message that politicians with bad record will not be reelected. Of course, this requires that people see things beyond feudalistic institutions like caste and short term gains (election time small freebies like booze, clothing or water pots). Unfortunately, most rural folks vote based on these two factors and many urban poor vote based on short term benefits (like booze). Then it boils down to what Rajaji argued: no universal franchise until things settle down in a nascent democracy. Until it is completely internalized into the society that people holding public offices should have some level of decency. In such a society, natwar singh would have resigned his position so that he can face charges as an ordinary citizen sans power. Of course, that ship has sailed 55 years back and we are stuck with a mockery of democracy where the likes of laloo yadav are the norm. In my opinion, if this trend continues, India will look like Africa in a few decades.

  • Alok

    The Congress has always been a corrupt party. I do not understand why people have refused to see this all through the years. Virtually every well-entrenched Congress politician has good links with local ganglords. Sometimes, they are heads of gangs themselves! I’ve heard of so many exploits of Congress local politicians that I begin to wonder how they manage to hide them. The answer is ofcourse – collusion with journalists – either through bribery or through threats.

    I’ve heard of senior journos picking up bottles of whisky from ministers, getting their phone bills paid, getting electricity bills paid, getting loans from banks that they’ve never paid back and the banks (owned by politicians) haven’t bothered to recover them… the list is endless.

    The left leaning ways of the Congress were all too obvious from their policies throughout. Is it a surprise that KGB funded them and possibly enriched many of the ruling clan. The reason they got away was that there was no one to put the party on a leash. No wonder it served their purposes to control the news media as much as they could

    So when two of the supposed pillars of democracy are infested with termites, how long is the house supposed to hold up?

    Will the newly resurgent media do something about this now?

  • http://www.luckycity.blogspot.com Anand Sharma

    I was disappointed by your this post.Who doesnot know that Indian politics is dominated by the corrupt?You are right that the corrupt wield power because they are corrupt.The issue is what you and I can do or are doing?

  • http://www.indiblog.com Indiblog

    I agree totally – I have written a post with a very similar view – that Congress and Corruption are synonymous!

    http://www.indiblog.com/71/un-reinforces-congress-corruption/

    But, yeah, forgot to mention the KGB links.

  • http://www.alternate.co.in Shiv

    Actually its the other way around. The Congress party and Natwar singh have allegedly bribed Saddam. The conterversy is over the kickbacks to the iraqi agents by buyers of the oil. Why on earth will Saddam want bribe the congress ? They will of course take it if given as will the bangaru laxman’s of the world :) All this ranting on corrupt politicians is bullshit. Everyone in the country is willing to bribe someone to get ahead. Why do you expect the netha to be better than the common man who is willing to pay double for a black movie ticket or a land allocation ? Not that this is an indian phenomenon, you will find it worldwide in different formats. Is blair or bush any less corrupt ? So lets drop the pejorative word and call it “unauthorized advance commisions for trade developement” Maybe the FM will ask them to pay FBT on it :) )

  • Dr.Harish Kumar

    There are some people who pose themselves as congress leaders and dupe the public,assuring them transfer, promotion, sites and what not; collecting money from them saying they have to bribe the ministers and finally swallowing everything.One such case is one Devaraj (Bikla), an ex employee of Vikrant facory in Mysore, Karnataka. The ministers should be care full about this person. This kind of people should not be entertained in congress.

  • http://www.happyharsha.com Harsha

    Quite stupid to blame congress or natwar, it’s american politics. tell me when all this bribing happened way back in 2001, who was in power, so called handicapped NDA. and amazing to learn those out of power made money! please don’t say donkey since america told it is donkey, do it with conscience.

  • http://www.happyharsha.com Harsha

    I’m sure corruption has taken a heavy toll on india and still one of the root causes for sluggish face in world economics. It’s not just india, but corruption is prominent in all colonies ruled by UK. I somehow attribute it to colonial rulers who practised it for long and still exist in their well developed country. We have surely forgotten our senses and going along wrong direction. Better education, better life standards would certainly bring along changes in the system, by then politics take a back seat, it’s a matter of time.

  • Rajendra Kumar

    Corruption be made non-bailable offence.onus to prove innosence should be on accused.Guilty person should be caned publicly and all chennels should telecaste it at prime time.create of law inthe mind of politicians