A New Zealander’s view on the reasons for corruption in India:
Indians are Hobbesian (a culture of self-interest).
Corruption in India is a cultural aspect. Indians seem to think nothing peculiar about corruption. It is everywhere.
Indians tolerate corrupt individuals rather than correct them.
No race can be congenitally corrupt.
But can a race be corrupted by its culture?
To know why Indians are corrupt, look at their patterns and practices.
Religion is transactional in India.
Indians give God cash and anticipate an out-of-turn reward.
Such a plea acknowledges that favours are needed for the undeserving.
In the world outside the temple walls, such a transaction is named a “bribe”.
A wealthy Indian gives not just cash to temples, but gold crowns and such baubles.
His gifts cannot feed the poor. His pay-off is for God. He thinks it will be wasted if it goes to a needy man.
In June 2009, The Hindu published a report of Karnataka minister G. Janardhan Reddy gifting a crown of gold and diamonds worth Rs 45 crore to Tirupati.
India’s temples collect so much that they don’t know what to do with it. Billions are gathering dust in temple vaults.
When Europeans came to India, they built schools. When Indians go to Europe & USA, they build temples.
Indians believe that if God accepts money for his favours, then nothing is wrong in doing the same thing. This is why Indians are so easily corruptible.
Indian culture accommodates such transactions morally. There is no real stigma. An utterly corrupt Jayalalitha can make a comeback, just unthinkable in the West.
Indian moral ambiguity towards corruption is visible in its history. Indian history tells of the capture of cities and kingdoms after guards were paid off to open the gates, and commanders paid off to surrender.
This is unique to India.
Indians’ corrupt nature has meant limited warfare on the subcontinent.
It is striking how little Indians have actually fought compared to ancient Greece and modern Europe.
The Turks’ battles with Nadir Shah were vicious and fought to the finish.
In India, fighting wasn’t needed, bribing was enough to see off armies.
Any invader willing to spend cash could brush aside India’s kings, no matter how many tens of thousands soldiers were in their infantry.
Little resistance was given by the Indians at the Battle of Plassey.
Clive paid off Mir Jaffar and all of Bengal folded to an army of 3,000.
There was always a financial exchange to taking Indian forts. Golconda was captured in 1687 after the secret back door was left open.
Mughals vanquished the Marathas and Rajputs with nothing but bribes.
The Raja of Srinagar gave up Dara Shikoh’s son Sulaiman to Aurangzeb after receiving a bribe.
There are many cases where Indians participated on a large scale in treason due to bribery.
The question is: Why do Indians have a transactional culture while other ‘civilized’ nations don’t?
Indians do not believe in the theory that they can all rise if each of them behaves morally, because that is not the message of their faith.
Their caste system separates them.
They don’t believe that all men are equal.
This resulted in their division and migration to other religions.
Many Hindus started their own faiths like Sikh, Jain, Buddha and many converted to Christianity and Islam.
The result is that Indians don’t trust one another.
There are no Indians in India, there are Hindus, Christians, Muslims and what not.
Indians forget that 400 years ago they all belonged to one faith.
This division evolved an unhealthy culture. The inequality has resulted in a corrupt society in India where everyone is against everyone else, except God and even he must be bribed.
Brian from Godzone
A friend sent this to me a month ago. And all I could say then was, “If I think he’s right, it makes me less Indian. If I think he’s wrong, it makes me untruthful to myself. Undoubtedly, his is a very Western point of view and I’m sure there are cases in non Indian countries where bribes have won them wars and treachery for money wasn’t unfamiliar. But I neither have the information right off the tip of my tongue nor do I intend to look up for it because that would just result in mud slinging and digressing from a thought process which deserves a second thought, at least.”
A month later, I think it’s time we gave it a second thought. What are we doing to ourselves? Are we so afraid of failure that we will keep kneeling before idols? Don’t we want the chance to retrace our steps to find out our mistakes? Or is the ultimate goal always money? Isn’t that what makes us corrupt? Isn’t that what has always led to wars, be it Indian or non-Indian? How does it matter what the other person’s religious beliefs are? How does it matter if they pray five times a day or once a week? How does it matter if I am an Indian or an Irish? After all, country borders are nothing but ‘shadow lines’.
Yes, Brian from Godzone is right in a lot of ways. He’s right when he talks about wealthy men giving more to Gods than to other poor men. He’s right that temples collect so much that they don’t know what to do with it. He’s right that our caste system separates us.
But he’s wrong if he says all Indian men are self-centered! India is a large country. 1.25 billion people out of the Earth’s 7 billion live here. If we were all equally selfish and vain, the world would be far from over by now.
He’s wrong if he thinks only Indians played underhand in wars. “At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War.” (And it took me just 30 seconds to lay hands on this information.)
He’s wrong if he thinks it’s our Hindu religion which makes us worse as humans. No. We are the ones who choose to pay to the Gods. They didn’t ask us to. Let’s not sling mud on Them. I wouldn’t want to point out how many controversies the Churches are embroiled in.
He’s wrong if he thinks only Indians have divisions in their societies. At least we don’t pick people on their skin colour. Oh wait. We do. Fair and lovely. Fair and handsome.
This isn’t about WHO’S RIGHT and WHO’S WRONG. This is about WHAT’S RIGHT and WHAT’S WRONG.
And corruption is wrong. War is wrong. Dealing with religion in money is wrong.
But so is intolerance. And mud slinging. And generalizing!
Let’s just try and make the world a better place to live in. There can be nothing more right than this. Would you want to agree, Brian?
P.S. : Friday post! Because Saturdays were becoming too predictable 😉