Thoughts on economics and liberty

Please be clear: Jan Lokpal won’t catch the most corrupt: Sonia and Rahul Gandhi

I'm pleased at the positive outcome re: LokPal Bill. However, it is very important to keep things in perspective and to note three VERY IMPORTANT things:

A) As Shantanu Bhagwat of FTI has noted, the battle has been won but the WAR is not over. However, I suggest that Shantanu, in his eternal politeness and consideration for the venerable Anna Hazare, has grossly exaggerated the nature of gains made by the LP Bill. In my view, the war has not even begun. This is a cosmetic and essentially irrelevant “reform” at this primitive stage of governance systems in India. The war would need to reform a host of areas:

  • electoral
  • economic and social policy
  • among many, many others.

If the package of reforms is 100, then LP bill is not even 0.5 out of 100.

B) Second, we know that the biggest "fish" in terms of corruption in India is the Congress party, and the heads of the party, the Sonia and Rahul Gandhi combine, are the MOST corrupt people of India. Most corruption in India is at least indirectly controlled by them. True, most of this money is not used by them for personal "aiyashi" but for contesting elections, but such is the nature of corruption that no good cause can justify it.  

Let this be VERY CLEAR, and written in stone. The Jan Lokpal will NEVER be able to catch the biggest fish. That is because they will always transfer funds outside India and use underhand means at every stage. There will be an even greater outflow of corrupt money outside India – beginning NOW!

True, Baba Ramdev and his maniacal followers plan to shed the blood of thousands, but even that won't stop corruption. No, my dear Baba, your intentions are good, but you simply don't understand.

C) Finally, let this be very clear as well: Neither Sonia nor Rahul nor anyone else among the politicians in India is BORN corrupt, or otherwise criminally minded. It is the system that FORCES them to do such things. That is why I'm AGAINST witch-hunts and chasing after individuals, because when 99% of the politicians and 90% of the bureaucrats (and police, media, judiciary, etc.) are corrupt, what's the point in catching one or two people? What difference can it possibly make to the life of the common man?

Yes, LP can have an effect if the system reduces corruption to the minimal, say, to 5% of the total politicians and bureaucrats. Then, LP will have an effect. At the moment, it will merely kill a lot of small fish, and the big fish will escape [and I mean KILL, given the language being used by Ramdev's supporters].

Let us become mature enough (and capable enough) of understanding the true drivers of our system. That is not a trivial task. Let us be clear that our SYSTEM makes Indians corrupt. Indians don't have corrupt DNA. 

I regret that none of the leaders of the current mass movement display ANY understanding of the causes of corruption and misgovernance in India. That task of leading India to its great future that lies ahead will have to be shouldered by FTI. Of that there is no doubt.

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7 thoughts on “Please be clear: Jan Lokpal won’t catch the most corrupt: Sonia and Rahul Gandhi
  1. Gurdeep

    On reading your views this comes to my mind. "Hame ka bora tha marna agar ek bar hota" ( It would not be bad if death comes once) I am quoting Galib. Your fatalistic and negative view hurts me, how long will you live with it and commit mental sucide every day.
    Archimedes said give a solid place to stand, a strong falcrum and a solid long pole , I will move the world.
    Here give India.

    To file directly cases against corrupt, this will deter 50% corrupt people. This one clause will be the biggest issue in Jan lokpal. Watch my words every trick in the trade will be used to see this does not happen.
    Give an idependent court or commision, which hears the case honestly, need not do any investigation, leave that to citizens. 25% of the battle is won. Even if this court has bad intention it can not do day light robbery, in this present world. Some facts can not be hidden.Hearing must take place once every month. Let case take even five years.
    Finally if proven guilty, in major cases behind  bar for a life time  or visit to God's darbar.

    If two such sentences come through, no one will have corrupt deals even with a barg pole.
    You get this done, you will see how fast the cleaning takes place, I am 73 , left India 45 years back, before leaving I did some cleaning for two years and succeeded. The whole family revolted because we had too many enemies, therefore left India.  Just a direct FIR and a special court is enough. This direct filing of case is what will have the biggest opposition, from people in power. Anna,s biggest objection to Govt. lokpal is that, it does not permit direct filing of cases.
    IF NOW  WE DO NOT GET IT RIGHT THEN MAY BE WE WILL JOIN CLUB OF EGYPT, TUNISA, YEMEN, ETC. Every thing has a limit and India is at that crisis.

  2. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Gurdeep

    Let me repeat what I’ve mentioned to H. Marwein:

    The problems of India, as clearly articulated in BFN (and indeed, I’m not the first to do so – there are 100s of world class economists who have said pretty much the same thing) are not related to laws and institutions but BAD laws and therefore bad institutions. By bad laws I mean bad policies that are totally orthogonal to human incentives and therefore create an inevitable pressure for corruption (among other things).

    Citizens who pay bribes are just victims of these bad laws. They can’t stop paying bribes if they have to survive in today’s India. Indeed most bribes are not paid by ordinary citizens but by big (and small) business.

    I am advocating a very simple solution that seems to find no taker!! – have a political party in India that will CHANGE these bad laws and align them with human incentives and common sense.

    We betray the worst diseases of thinking (i.e. we think poorly and in a shallow manner) and expect results. We need to understand Adam Smith, to begin with. For 250 years his book has been lying around, and few (virtually none) in India have cared to understand it. But that book clarifies the rules of the game of modern societies. There are no shortcuts such as civil disobedience movements.

    Adam Smith did not advocate civil disobedience as a solution. Nor did Hayek. etc. They advocated clear headed thinking.

    In brief, Gurdeep, I’m not advocating negativism. It is those who REFUSE to learn about basic economics and basic public administration but imagine that the world runs by magic that are being negative, stubborn, and obstructionist.

    I have always said India can change in just five years – that’s all. But I am very blunt. The change must be based on good scientific thinking. It won’t do to pass useless laws that will not make ONE dent on corruption, but will drive it even more underground.


  3. Siddhartha

    Dear Sanjay

    kudos for your great effort. Godspeed to you. I have not yet read your book BFN…intend to do so…

    One major problem in India is that there is no attention on design. The autorickshaw on the roads have the same design from time immemorial. Blame Bajaj for it. But that is the case with everything. The local trains could be designed to accomodate more standing people. The genesis of this is that people are just like sheep, they accept everything. The design of emoluments in the public sector kills enterprise because achievers are hardly segregated and rewarded creating avenues for corruption. 

    And ofcourse apart from this accepting nature, the "intellectual ability" is confined to the proclivity to "jump into conclusions" as Sanjeev you have rightly pointed out elsewhere. This I have personally sorely realised in the recent past when, following a news story (and media is in the pits, in India, as of now), people apocryphally believe that whenever Sachin scores a century India loses and the vice versa, assuming too that a vice versa of any truth is a quid pro quo. So much for the "educated" class in India. The education system also is ante-deluvian and sorely crying out for a systemic change. 

    And now everyone believes, completely irrationally (and again pointed in this direction by the pernicious media) that

    1) Ramdev was not preaching yoga and was "politicizing" and has "political ambitions" which shows that the meaning of "politics" in the minds of men and women is "making money" and not "the service to the nation" and if you even pronounce that 50 crore people live on less than 50 rupees per day, people simply ignore that fact, as if this is a figment of imagination or think you are a wierd termite in the woodwork

    2) people have even started believing that the lathi charge on June 4 was right because "who were these guys after all waiting there at night trying to grab political power ?" . It is astounding to think that media has succeeded in making people supporters of Fascism. After this, the State can perpetrate acts of terrorism on its own people and "media" would exonerate the state and convince the people about the "rightness" and "inevitablilty" of the actions taken. Probably media is preparing the ground for an assassination of Baba Ramdev in case he dares to raise his head again with any alternate move with the nation (the TV viewing class) already nearly convinced about the humbug who dares to tread into "politics". Here, it would not be amiss to mention that the Baba represents the "disenfranchised" masses, the lower middle class, whose travails are conveniently given a miss by the media except sensationalization of gory details of murder, rape, lynchings emerging from that milieu and the political class makes a show of genuflection to them during the time of begging for votes once in five years, period. [Five years too seem now too long a time and ought to be truncated to 2 and a half or so.] Thus any mass movement of the disenfranchised lower middle class spearheaded by the Baba is a complete anathema to the ruling forces. The political masters controls the minds of the TV viewing middle class through the print and audio visual media. But the disenfranchised masses are another ball game. They have handled that class by systematically denying them any semblance of respectability and any resurgence thereof has to be handled "ruthlessly".  

    Apart from the Political Corruption and the Informational or Intellectual Corruption (through the Media), there is a third salvo on the sovereignty of the nation, the Cultural Corruption being unleashed by Bollywood churning out pernicious trash, the recent "iconic" film by Amir Khan the very rock bottom and surely, there would be guys to beat the nadir.

    We are a nation competing for the nadir in all spheres of public life. It is abysmal. This troika of Political, Intellectual and Cultural corruption is killing for the nation and more than half of the "rest of us" living in sub-Saharan conditions in their own motherland are already left for dead in this otherwise "prosperous country" capable of engendering 1.4 trillion dollars, at the last count.


  4. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Siddhartha

    You raise good points. The solution is to provide a different set of politics and change the system from top down. Bottoms up won’t work in India at this stage since the defects arise from the top. When you are ready pl. join FTI ( and spread the word so more people will join.


  5. PKM

    Dear Sanjeev, I've been a Nominated Councillor in the Chandigarh Municipal Corp. for the last 5 years – and all i've seen is FILTH!
    SUPPORTED BY A FILTY SYSTEM – OR A BRILLIANT ONE, depending on whose side youre on!
    The 1000 CRORE kitty seems to be the BEHOLDEN RIGHT of the Officials n the MCC – but they need the stupid/brilliant Councillors as partners in their game! They need their thumb impressions or concurrence in sanctioning their extortionist plans. WHICH HAS VERY NICE TERMINOLOGY – DAVALOPEMENT! Get that – the operative word is "DAVALOPEMNET" or whatever it is that Councillors use to fool their electorate!
    so the system is that the JE, in cahoots with the Contractors, copmes up with some zany/brilliant idea to MAKE MONEY – such as change all the streetlights on one arterial road with another – and in the process, both roads get NEW STREETLIGHTS! And the citizens get billed for new lamps-posts.@ several lakhs per lamp-post! The city center has lamps costing a measly Rs. 1.2 LAKHS PER POLE!
    The best – or the worst part is- that when i suggested that each project be checked by the hundreds of dumb (as compared to the ones in the MCC) professionals in the city, it was shot down by no other than the Honorable Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, saying that there is no provision in the rules for that.
    The other interesting thing is that registered architects and engineers are not allowed to be part of the Corporation House – since 80% of the budget is spent by the engineering dept. on roads, pavements and buildings!
    One has been regularly writing and am thinking of collating my writings over the years for all to see how a city is defrauded by its keepers!

  6. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear PKM

    Only in India do officials have PERMANENT positions in municipalities. In the developed countries (e.g. Australia) officials’ posts are at the mercy of the elected councillors. That is the ONLY major difference in incentives, and it makes all the difference.

    Under the current system the Minister for local government in each state and the officials, in collusion, make all the money, but the councillors get the blame (some of them also get involved).

    Essentially, the total decentralisation of power has to be given to the local government.

    Join FTI. We will bring about the necessary reform.


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