Disclaimer: I do NOT know much about politics. And I understand even less – just knowing the who’s who doesn’t mean you understand politics. What little I know is mostly from newspaper headlines and Wisetongue’s articles on this site. If you asked me to give a summary of the political climate in India, I’d tell you vaguely that the Congress is the big bully in the playground right now, but people are pissed off with the UPA and the country is generally fucked up due to corruption.
That last word, corruption, is going to be the theme of this post. I warn you – there is a very good chance that what follows here is complete nonsense. It might be just plain WRONG. That’s what the whole disclaimer thing was for.
First – what exactly is corruption? You know that the 2G scam was corruption. The Bofors scam? Hallmark of Indian corruption. Aadarsh scam? Corruption. Commonwealth Games 2010? Corruption, DAMMIT! The last time you paid off that pesky constable to avoid being pulled up for a traffic violation? GODDAMMIT MOTHERFUCKER HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO – oh wait.
I can see you squirming in your seat, like a rat caught in a trap. It does not give me pleasure. OK, maybe you’ve never done that in your life.
I’m quite sure that at some point of time, whole-heartedly or reluctantly, you’ve encouraged corruption – which can be roughly defined as the abuse of a position of power for personal gain. (That includes me – I’ve been using too much of the second person for the effect, my apologies.) Now I’m not saying you’re as guilty as A. Raja or Suresh Kalmadi – by all means you can continue living with yourself. But I hope you’re at least slightly shaken.
If you’ve accepted that last paragraph as true, then you shouldn’t really be shaking your head sadly and asking why our politicians and bureaucrats are so corrupt. It is not fucking easy to be blameless. Was it easy to accept your punishment for speeding and ignore the option of bribing the policeman?
“That’s different,” you say, “I just made a small mistake and it didn’t hurt anyone. Besides, the guy probably needed the money more than I do!” Never mind, the fact is that you broke a rule and then another in order to avoid retribution for your first transgression. Those excuses you just gave are your mind’s way of justifying it for you. There are VERY FEW people capable of resisting such temptation!
The real question to ask, then, is not why Indian politicians are corrupt – remember that they’re people, just like us. When you say “The Congress is taking away our money! Fuck them!” it makes things sound simpler than they are, as though the Congress is some strange parasite feasting on the life-blood of our beloved nation.
But what is the Congress, actually? The building where the top brass of the party meets? The hand-on-the-national-flag thingy? Nope, it’s basically a party, a group, of living, breathing, feeling people.
The real question is – how are some other countries so much less corrupt? Are the entire populations of New Zealand and Denmark innocent, principled and angelic? That is most definitely NOT the case. It was India which produced Mahatma Gandhi, for God’s sake! Yet, Hans J. Morgenthau claimed with good reason that politics is a reflection of human nature. Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of the guy, I’m just trying to prove that I still remember some of that International Relations shit I did last semester.
I can only think of one interpretation.
Those nearly corruption-free countries have their fair share of completely unscrupulous assholes, but they don’t hold positions of power. Somehow, the best people for the job are elected or nominated. Again, that’s extremely difficult – all it takes is one unscrupulous asshole. If he wriggles into the setup, you can be sure that more will follow.
That’s probably what happened in our country. The first Prime Minister of India was Jawaharlal Nehru, and while I don’t know too much about the way he went about his job, it’s safe to assume he was quite a selfless character because he was a freedom fighter and spent years in jail for the sake of the country. Whatever problems India faced under his term, I don’t think top-level corruption was one of them. (Again, I have no reasons for that claim. Please correct me if I am wrong.) Somewhere down the line, the assholes crept in.
But that doesn’t address the real problem – what makes Indians vote for assholes? I can’t put my finger on it – I just have a few half-formed ideas at present.
One reason is definitely our pluralism – there are so many different religious, ethnic and linguistic groups that playing the communal card is the easiest thing in the world.
But that alone is not sufficient, because when you kiss one group’s ass, you run the risk of pissing off many others. I do feel that there is another, deeper-lying reason – our obsession with morality. If there’s something common to almost the whole of India, it’s the fact that it’s relatively conservative when compared to the Western world. By conservative, I mean that many things commonplace in the United States are considered morally repugnant in India. For example, alcohol.
But how is that a bad thing, and how is it related to politics? Well, I feel that it makes us judge people too harshly. What’s more, we take active pleasure in condemning ‘immoral’ acts committed by others. This leads to a scenario where the man who can cleverly point out others’ mistakes automatically becomes popular.
He may be an unscrupulous asshole himself, but we’re prepared to ignore that. Soon, he’s in a position of power. And before you can say “Oh shit!”, he somehow helps his friends get into more positions. Guess what his friends are like? Assholes.
I already told you – I have no freaking idea about politics, for the most part. This is just something that occured to me, and if you really had the patience to read this 1000-word article completely, you deserve a medal. I’m aware that I’ve probably oversimplified things, but anyway, hope you had a good read. Loose Cannon signs off. Until next time, folks!