Why is India so Corrupt

Srinivas Saraswatuala: srinivas@uspam.ibm.com

Let me first admit that I am not attempting to give an answer to this
question. You have raised a serious and a complex issue. Every society
in the world has gone through such cycles of ups and downs and India is
no exception. World History has numerous examples for ups and downs of
moral, ethical and social values. Every country in this World had
suffered and revived sometime or other in the past. Countries such as
India, Egypt, Persia, Italy, Greek, France, Russia, China and most of
Africa and Latin America have experienced more such cycles. In the
modern times news about dishonesty, immorality and corruption get lots
more publicity and attention than ever before!
I do not want to be too pessimistic about the situation in India. The
good news is that a sizable population of India (hundreds of millions)
still has high moral and ethical values. Those people know the
difference between right and wrong. They do conduct their day to day
work without any corruption and they do live a simple life. They lead
good family life and teach and motivate their children with high moral
values. In fact I would argue that Indian religions and Indian
Culture have contributed significantly so that this minority did not
follow.blindly the majority. India has not reached the stage where
people with high moral and ethical values to become endangered! Those
people will be able to survive without extinction due to the influence
of religions which include Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs and
Most of the time we see the urban India and make inappropriate
inference. As Mahathma Gandhi once said that the real India is in
Indian villages and he is correct. India is changing fast in cities but
such changes are much slower in the rural areas. India was successful
in the modernization of Industries, transportation, communication and
infra structural facilities. Gandhi was concerned that such changes
could cause India to lose its identity and its cultural heritage.
Gandhi had a fear that modernization will provide more comforts and may
instigage corruption. A quick review of the pattern of corruption in
India is necessary to understand the situation. Corruption is
widespread in the national capital (New Delhi), then next the state
capitals, then district headquarters, then major municipalities, then
travel and communication (airlines, telephones, trains, buses, taxi),
etc. Those who are in power and those who live in big cities like to
have more comforts (bigger houses, Television, Telephone, etc.) It is
possible collect data to establish a relationship between comforts (or
pleasure) and corruption! It appears that when the public wants more
comforts and pleasures, they disregard honesty and morality.
Consequently, those people do not distinguish between right and wrong!
India had gone through several religious and moral revivals in the
past. Saints, Kings and Political Leaders have emerged at appropriate
times as role models to educate, correct and motivate the people who
lost faith in moral and ethical values. Notable among those are Veda
Vyasa, Buddha, Mahavir, Guru Nanak, Adi Sankara, Shri Ramanuja, Sri
Madhva, Jayadeva Jnaneswar, Tulasidas, Kabirdas, Ramadas, Chaitanya,
the twelve Alwars (Vaishnava Saints) and Sixty three Saiva Saints of
the South. In more recent times we had Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Ramana
Maharshi, Swami Vivekananda and Aurobindo and Sai Baba. Political
leaders such as Tilak and Mahathma Gandhi have established and practiced
high eithical standards and moral values.( I have included very few
names and the only reason for omission of numerous other deserving names
here is only becauseof space.) Just like the saviors in the past, a
great leader will appear at appropriate time to change the course of
current conditions in India. The awakening has happened so many times
in the past. Why should we doubt now?