Thoughts on economics and liberty

Get rid of the temptation that caused Kiran Bedi’s downfall

I've written a lot (e.g. in BFN) about the need for transparency in payments to politicians, including elimination of perks.

One of the perks Indian politicians get is free or subsidised travel. This means that regardless of whether the purpose is private/business or public, the taxpayer bears the cost. Open ended perks like this are MASSIVE INVITATION TO CORRUPTION.

Similarly, gallantry and other awards that are given to people in the form of BLANK CHEQUES for travel (as Kiran Bedi seems to have received) are MASSIVE invitations for abuse and corruption.

Kiran Bedi found the blank cheque irresistable: money sitting on a tree, ready to be plucked.

It goes into her NGO – which means that taxpayer is now funding a specific NGO. It could well have been a private business.

Virtually no one would be able to resist such blank cheques which are guaranteed by the taxpayer.

That is why such blank cheques MUST BE BANNED.

I asked in BFN that all perks given to politicians be abolished, and only a fixed salary be given to them. No pensions, no other perks. Pay them handsomely, but then let them save money for their old age like ordinary citizens do. 

Similarly, gallantry awards should be given as ONE SINGLE LUMPSUM. No perpetually blank cheques.

The problem that Kiran Bedi is facing today is because of an ethical dilemma that was created by bad policy. Bad policy can lead even otherwise honest people to lose their sense of ethics. 

The taxpayer funded blank cheque confused Kiran's moral compass. She started thinking of this payment as an entitlement. That's where she went wrong. But who can blame her? The blame must first go to the policy maker who did not think through the implications of such BAD policy (I can think of 100 more reasons why this is really bad policy).

Blank cheques at taxpyer expense can corrupt even the incorruptible. Kiran's reputation has been besmirched because of the opportunity created by this bad policy.

Let's squelch this bad policy.

Kiran should come out with an apology and seek a policy change for all such gallantry and other awards. Pay a lumpsum to our heroe and move on. There is no binding obligation to pay air tickets for our heroes till the end of their life. The award is the main thing.

This associated DHANDHA, associated taxpayer subsidy, is pure evil.

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6 thoughts on “Get rid of the temptation that caused Kiran Bedi’s downfall
  1. chaitanya

    also this is yet another reason for not having assets (air india) under government control.
    This brings up a related topic — discount for "senior citizens" in Indian railways. They are discounted 50% or more !! I can't find any LOGIC why senior citizens should enjoy blanket discounts in railways !!

  2. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    True. The whole thing is a farce. But votes and influence (railway and other bureaucrats like giving their parents such discounts) means such bad policies get through the system.

  3. Rakesh Varma

    By this logic, no Indian politician, policeman, or petty official is to blame for his corruption because any one in their position (even an innocent baby) will abuse their power, right? What about other countries like New Zealand, Denmark or Singapore where the democratic system is no different? 
    Let me enlighten you – the difference lies in the character of the leaders. Weak-willed, crooked leaders produce a corrupt Indian system. 

  4. Sanjeev Sabhlok


    Two things. One, I don’t know about whether the democratic system is “no different” in India to other countries like New Zealand, Denmark or Singapore. Singapore, particularly, is not a democracy. The Indian system is RADICALLY DIFFERENT to the way democracy operates in Australia (which I know fairly well). I’ve detailed the differences in BFN. Superficial similarities are very deceptive.

    Second, I’m not sure what you are getting at. I’m asking that something which is really bad as a policy (I can give many reasons but even the policy illiterate can think of most of them) – namely lifelong subsidised travel – should be abolished and replaced with a lumpsum. All lifelong blank cheques are really bad policy.



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