The Indian Economy Blog

February 15, 2006

Why Does India Have Such Terrible Politicians?- – 2

Filed under: Basic Questions,Politics,Regulatory reforms — Prashant @ 6:08 am

Caveat: This is a long-ish post. Recommend that you print it.

Many (all?) of us blame venal and mendacious politicians for India’s problems. Atanu’s sentiments in his series of posts on Lee Kuan Yew, that “when it comes to greed Indian politicians are a class apart” are echoed in any debate/ discussion about India’s problems.

I agree that many of India’s politicians are crooked and inept. However, just blaming them is simplistic. Or rather, it’s not the whole story. In my opinion, mendacious politicians are a proximate issue. It would be far more useful to figure out why India is saddled with such terrible politicians? After all, there’s no evidence that Indians are any more more crooked or inept than any other nation or race on earth. Then, how does one explain the terrible politicians?

T C A Srinivasa-Raghavan in a wonderful article in The Business Standard, titled The Rules Of The Empty Game, sums it up marvelously.

I’ve excerpted the rules below, but I’d encourage all of you to read the full piece — brilliant stuff.

Like academics and pickpockets, politicians too have rules which they can break only at great risk

Operation Duryodhana, in which some clever journalists secretly filmed as many as 11 MPs receiving money in return for asking questions in Parliament, has surprised only the naïve. This is because if you define honesty in the conventional, unqualified and non-contextual way, an honest politician is an oxymoron.

Clearly, there is something about the profession that induces even otherwise decent fellows to behave caddishly. It is the way the game is played. (emphasis mine) It is important to understand this because all callings have their own implicit rules which are very different from the formal explicit ones. If you want to get anywhere in your chosen profession, you simply have to observe these implicit rules.

Since this is as true of academics as it is of pickpockets, it is more useful to examine the rules, rather than the persons who play the game. (emphasis mine)

Rule No 1 is that only winning matters because the winner takes all. This zero-sum game characteristic of politics has two consequences.

First, the squeamish stay away. Second, the rules are made by those who regard honesty like people usually regard exercise or prayer—something to be admired in others but never emulated.

Apropos rule #1, a question for readers of this blog: How many of your classmates/ friends, who had other career options, went into politics? I’d be surprised if the answer is more than zero for the vast majority of answers.

Rule No 2 is that your political worth is directly proportional to how much money you can bring to the table.

[..]

Rule No 3 is that no one but you will be responsible for your day-to-day expenses.

[..]

Rule No 4 is that you must recoup your election expenses in the first two years and devote the next three years to generating the margin money for the next election.

[..]

Rule No 5 comes out of Rule No 2: the political parties need you to bring in more than money if they are to bank on you.

[..]

Rule No 6 is “No squealing”. If you rat on someone, you may be ratted on next. And since you need the money, it is not in your interest to rat. So there is no internal pressure to remain honest.

Rule No 7 is that in the current framework each MP must spend more than the other. This comes out of a Prisoners’ Dilemma sort of situation where, although each MP is best off spending as little as possible, in reality none of them can.

This is because whenever one MP realises that the other is not spending, he can achieve a higher individual payoff by spending more, and thereby hoping to extend his reach amongst potential voters. Given that each MP stands to gain by spending more if the other does not spend, what ends up happening is that they all spend as much as they can.

In other words, TCA says that wishful thinking of the Palkhivala school, in looking for politicians of vision (sic) is not realistic. Nor, for that matter, are rants that blame everything on venal politicians.

I’ve long averred that it’s unrealistic to expect a fighter to adhere to the Marquess of Queensberry rules, when all his opponents are exponents of no-holds-barred fighting. With our current system, the search for honest politicians is a chimera. The solution lies in reforming the rules of the political game.

While I’d love to see idealists like Paritrana succeed without soiling their hands, I’m a tad skeptical. Perhaps they’ll prove me wrong.

37 Comments »

  1. The whole thing starts with election expenses.If we go back in history when first time congress took part in elctions in 1935,one of the criteria to select candidates was his ability to finance his expenditure.Various political memoirs of that time testify to this fact.As a result many time commited but honest workers were ignored in favour of criminal elements or at best people with vested interests. But the refrain at that time was if the top leadership is not corrupt then we can control base of the pyramids.
    Second reason was that even a honest person when elctd found that he had lot of discretionary power to exercise in License /Quota Raj so temtation was great to become corrupt.In my own college ,though scope of discretion is small but even for that elections for Student council are fought on reggional/political pact lines without giving attention to suitability of candidates.
    So th most important thing is reduce expenditure in elctions.So that even if a teacher/professor or doctor wants to contest elctions he can without worrying about expenses involved.Ban all sorts of banner,large cutouts,minless decorations.At bbbest only posters should be allowed and only at public palces in limited nos.
    Next thing could be state financing.By this way all vested lobbies who finance election will lose their control.Today when television is everywhere ,make compulsory for every channel to give some time to people contesting elections.
    Another point is make every Mp and MLA declare all his transaction/travels/endorsement/donation etc worth more than a 1000 rs during his tenure of five yrs.
    These are a few steps which may be a good beginning.

    Comment by Anshul — February 15, 2006 @ 1:05 pm

  2. I would think rather than corruption being a problem, it is the type of corrutption that is a major problem. Politicians everywhere are corrupt. There is not a place in the world where you cannot get something illegal / dicey done by giving a decent amount of cash. That is one type of corruption – where people in power accept bribes to do something that is not expected of them.

    The other kind os corruption — which plagues India a lot — and which we should be more concerned about at this stage — is where people in power demand bribes/perks to do things that they are expected to do and/or just dont perform their duties / fulfil their responsibilities due to a lack of incentive. That is what bogs us down.

    Comment by anya — February 16, 2006 @ 12:27 am

  3. Anya

    Apropos your comments that ” people in power demand bribes/perks to do things that they are expected to do and/or just dont perform their duties / fulfil their responsibilities due to a lack of incentive. “

    Yes, this is a problem that India faces — big-time. And very predictable, as TCA points out — see Rules #1 thru 5.

    Comment by Prashant Kothari — February 16, 2006 @ 2:00 am

  4. Perhaps one of the solutions to the Indian corrupt politicians problems I can think of is giving a chance to the new upcoming parties such as Paritrana(http://www.paritrana.org/). Only when people with sufficient moral strength and a strong sense of serving the Indian public get elected to the top most offices, can this problem of corruption be contained.

    Comment by Braingler — February 16, 2006 @ 11:12 am

  5. Hmmm…

    John Fogerty once complained that his fans didn’t really bother with his lyrics — if I remember right, I think he was cheesed off at people dancing to “Bad Moon Rising”. Not

    After reading some of the comments above, I can empathize with him.

    How else can one explain Anya and Braingler’s comments — AFTER there’s a detailed post enumerating the reasons why

    a) “politicians demand money for even quotidian tasks”, and
    b) why “moral strength and a strong sense of serviing the Indian public” are not a recipe for success in Indian politics.

    Wonder if my post is too long — perhaps people just glaze over it, and read only the headlines?

    Comment by Prashant Kothari — February 18, 2006 @ 6:21 pm

  6. Yes the rules of the political game is the one to blame. Its not that all the politicains are corrupt otherwise India Inc would have been in a bad condition now.

    Apropos rule #1, a question for readers of this blog: How many of your classmates/ friends, who had other career options, went into politics? I’d be surprised if the answer is more than zero for the vast majority of answers.

    This question generally sprouts up whenever the topic of corrupt politicians are discussed.

    I believe that choosing any other profession is much easier than getting into politics for an average Indian. With an economics or political science major its more reasonable for them to become a professor or go for civil services which gives more returns.

    The amount of money and network required to become a politician is huge. So unless you are a from a family with political background or rich and famous its difficult. For a normal educated person it takes years. And when they get there they are in such minority that they cannot influence or change the rules of poilitical game.

    There are institutes which create engineers or doctors or economists but is there an institute which creates/coaches politicians??

    So a very weird option is to make the election spending a state issue as stated in one of the comments and make the elected politicians attend classes in Eco-Political Sciene-International politics and law etc so that they have less time to think about doing scams and gain some knowledge on how to better run the country.

    Comment by Swati — February 19, 2006 @ 6:55 pm

  7. Prashat .. its probably to do with the fact that more often than not, only the content gets read and not the links.

    Comment by anya — February 21, 2006 @ 1:27 am

  8. Prashant,

    TCA’s article is brilliant no doubt.

    I was thinking of the ultimate causes of corruption- both administrative corruption(“speed-money” for everyday tasks that should be done) and discretionary corruption (for out of turn favours, be it a contract, a promotion, a jump in the queue, whatever). To my mind there are 5 causative factors for corruption (I am trying to be brief here) -

    1. Discretion (remedy- get everything to be rule-based and avoid exceptions)

    2. Transparency (remedy- get everyone to be well-informed and all transactions/ dealings in the open; invest in eudcation)

    3. Shortages (remedy- eliminate queues- of all kinds; increase access, free markets)

    4. Concentration of power (remedy- institutionalised mechanisms to prevent someone getting into a postion of absolute power)

    5. Economic deprivation/ inequality (remedy- all-round growth growth opportunities as opposed to redistributive policies)

    In the Indian context, addressing 1-4 would eliminate opportunities for corruption greatly. None of this is easy, but still worth striving for. Addressing 5, would eliminate the motivation.

    Lastly, an economically stronger society with a large base of middle-class voters as well as a population that is well-educated will allow voters to focus on longer-term benefits than short-term measures leading to the erosion of the culture of corruption.

    At one seminar I attended some weeks ago, there was this interesting observation that at the current rate of growth, in 15-20 years, we could see some basic changes in our polity that will result in a transformation of the politician as we know; for the better. We will need to be a bit patient!

    To my mind, I do not believe that any society or nation incluidng India has any genetic pre-disposition to poor morals. I am sure that is nobody’s point. What we can do is to a. Recognize the causative factors and vote for/ canvas for policies that catalyse the remedies in every sphere of public life b. Be good parents oursleves!

    Comment by S. Ramachandra — February 23, 2006 @ 9:29 pm

  9. Ram

    Hi! Nice exposition there… I agree with all you say.

    However, even if we put in place all the remedies you suggest, there’s no getting around the overriding need for politicians to raise money for fighting elections — which TCA pinpoints as (one of) the primary causes of corruption.

    The need to raise funds for fighting elections is the bane of the US as well — just as in India, the winners in the political fray are mostly those with the biggest war-chests. Of course, in the US, fund-raising is done “legally” via PACs, campaign contributions, and fund-raising dinners.

    Comment by Prashant Kothari — February 24, 2006 @ 4:28 pm

  10. Prashant,

    Yes, I do get your point- especially the one about “legally” funded spends!

    1. I was thinking more on the lines of how the internet has enabled even a small player to start up and do a lot of things that only large players could earlier. It has sort of levelled the playing field and made cost of start up, cost of research/ learning a
    fraction of what it was. It is now doing the same for advertising- making TV advts. difficult to justify in some economies/ categories.

    If the cost of reaching a message to voters and
    getting your head and face/ PoV across could be made easy using technology; if all voters were educated and well-informed and had access to all the information.. …maybe then, you could see big spends becoming
    redundant. What we need is a system that levels out
    the odds (costs of communication) between the big
    moneyed businessman and the humble small town teacher
    in respect of running for public office.

    2. I am sceptical about measures like getting elections to be state funded or banning any spend per-se.
    Funding elections publicly does not address the
    ability of an individual politician with the means
    from making a bigger noise using private means. Also,
    banning different forms of spend will only make it
    harder for a newcomer to establish himself against
    well-known politicians (party brands). It is akin to
    the situation with cigarette advertising in this
    country, where I believe an unintended consequence of
    the ban helps existing brnads keep out competition and
    earn more profits!

    Hence my PoV that “social technology” needs to evolve
    that makes election spending unnecessary or useless
    (blogs are step in this direction?!).

    2. I am also sceptical about wishing for Good persons to reach positions of power/ enter politics. I think
    there are enough good people, there is enough goodness
    going around- else we would have collapsed as a civil
    society long ago.

    Fundamental strain of thought underlying all of this is that- make it easy for someone to follow the law and real hard/ inconvenient to break it……… if you want a solution.

    Goes back to someone’s view of economics- it is all about the incentives society has.

    Indian politicians, as Indian bureaucrats and Govt. servants will remain corrupt so log as the right incetives are not in place.

    Comment by S. Ramachandra — February 25, 2006 @ 9:06 pm

  11. I forget who said this but it went something like this.

    India is a democracy on crutches. But despite all the corruption and crookedness, every single politician (including known gangsters) or political party obeys the verdict of the janta. When was the last time, there was a coup in India because someone lost the election. Indira Gandhi tried something of that order … look what happened.

    India’s poor have one weapon against the politicians and it is their vote. Compare the huge voter turnout in India with the dismal turnout here in the United States. It seems we immigrants care more about the United States than the locals.

    Rayan Felix Coutinho
    http://www.rcoutinho.com

    Comment by Rayan Felix Coutinho — March 3, 2006 @ 4:05 am

  12. “Yetho Raja Thatho Praja” if I have it down right is relevant in this context isnt it ? The politicians come from the same society that you and i are in.

    We are apathetic to everything that should matter…I have been hunting for a blog on the April 1 deadline for all Mumbai households to reduce their energy consumption and i cannot find one — if any reader does – pl let me know!

    We must ask ourselves why aren’t we more bothered that taxpayers money has been used to fund energy saving sensors in mantralaya because the GoMs ministers and babus are too lazy to conserve power but the same taxpayer has to curtail his consumption or face ” lights out ” ??

    When we as a people stand up for ourselves , we can expect a better quality of politician.

    Comment by Ila Bhat — March 3, 2006 @ 9:12 pm

  13. Ila says “The politicians come from the same society that you and i are in.”

    I agree. However, given the structure of the “political game” in India ie, the rules as cited by TCA, Indian politics rarely attracts stellar candidates — they’re turned off. Or even if they do venture forth, they don’t rise to the top, because they don’t play by the rules.

    Going back to the question I raised above: How many of your classmates/ friends, who had other career options, went into politics? .

    In other words, what exactly do you mean by “same society”"? For instance, Ila also says When we as a people stand up for ourselves , we can expect a better quality of politician.

    I agree. Yes, we all are clear that we want democracy and freedom. And we want “better quality” of politicians. However, given the hugely heterogenous voting populace, where each group has different levels of information and often, hugely differing goals, suspect that “better quality” might have multiple definitions.

    Comment by Prashant Kothari — March 4, 2006 @ 7:32 am

  14. Prashant, to take this further – let us just look at this April 1 deadline – the voting population its going to affect will be homegenous in the sense its going to bother all of us equally- the slumdweller and the industrial galas drawing illegal power, the a/cd office goer of nariman point or the johri of zaveri bazaar , the dinks and the gujju joint family…why then do you find this strange silence – where are the RWAs , the AGNIs, the Kirit Somaiyas?

    Is it because everyone feels such a diktat will be “unimplementable” or is it general apathy? Everyone i have been talking to just seems to shrug their shoulders and says ” dekh lenge” .

    Do you think the Mumbai Mirror or Mid Day pictures of neta-babu profligacy is going to cause a groundswell of public opinion against this ? Or do we just expect the media to do our work for us ?
    It took a media spotlight for Sonia Gandhis managers to realise that the Jessica case was a great opp. to increase the size of her halo..never mind that a parliamentary committee (notwithstanding their flawed reasoning) had struck down the needed changes in law.

    How many of us vote at civic elections ? How many of us even care ? We need to find a way to change ourselves…

    Comment by Ila Bhat — March 4, 2006 @ 5:27 pm

  15. Ila

    I agree with the broad thrust of what you say — that the Indian people have also some culpability — for our terrible politicians.

    Think this is in line with your earlier plaint about the atrocious behavior of the passengers on Indian airlines http://indianeconomy.org/2005/11/23/incentives-for-good-behaviour/

    You also ask “How many of us vote at civic elections ? How many of us even care ? We need to find a way to change ourselves…”

    Suspect that so many of “us” don’t vote because we don’t think

    a) our individual votes will make a difference and/ or
    b) we don’t like any of the candidates and/ or
    c) we’re too lazy
    d) something else

    Suspect many upper-class/ middle-class Indians don’t vote because the candidates don’t really speak to their problems — and from a candidate’s perspective, they’re better off focusing on the largest chunk of the voting populace…. and that ain’t the middle-class Indians.

    Comment by Prashant Kothari — March 8, 2006 @ 10:14 pm

  16. I have a take on this as follows.

    Democracy, to show quick and appreciable results should be practiced at a small scale.

    Let me explain. In a housing society, where the office bearers are elected, it is fairly easy and quick to throw out someone who is not performing. Simmilarly the case is for a village or city.

    The other advantage of having smaller scale models is that two cities can adopt different models and they can compete for various resources. e.g. investment, people etc. Some cities can be more conservative, some can be more liberal. There will be more competition between the various cities and the better models will win out in the end.

    This is happening to some extent, but at a state level. It should also happen at a city level.

    Comment by Rishi — April 23, 2006 @ 5:04 pm

  17. Why Does India Have Such Terrible Politicians? Because, the Indian people will not elect anybody else. Those people who analyse, talk, write articles like these and understand real picture about a politician, WILL NOT vote. Those people who don’t analyse and understand nothing just go and vote. I don’t see any reason to pull Chandrababu naidu from AP or SM Krishna from Karnataka or likes out of power? They are politicians, but they are visionaries too. They did lot of good to their respective states than any politician I knew at state level did. But no use. Instead of encouraging them to continue, people gave their verdict to others, who did almost nothing in the last 50 years.

    Fundamentally, greed aspect is not just confined to Politicians, but it is in the blood of almost every indian, either out of survival instincts or ambitions. Hence, the question and the answer should and will start with ourselves. Why the politicians are terrible? Because, we are. We all are.

    Comment by Murali — June 22, 2006 @ 11:27 pm

  18. Murali (#17) says that Fundamentally, greed aspect is not just confined to Politicians, but it is in the blood of almost every indian, either out of survival instincts or ambitions. Hence, the question and the answer should and will start with ourselves. Why the politicians are terrible? Because, we are. We all are.

    When you say “we all are”, does that “we” refer to Indians only? Are you saying that the Indian people are “more terrible” than others? IF, and that’s a big IF, that’s again a proximate response — what’s the ultimate causality for a “shoddy populace”, if that indeed is what you’re saying.

    Those people who analyse, talk, write articles like these and understand real picture about a politician, WILL NOT vote. Again, why will these people not vote?

    Sidebar: I’ve read Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs And Steel three times over, and rather taken by his framework of looking beyond proximate causes.

    Comment by Prashant Kothari — June 23, 2006 @ 12:19 pm

  19. “With our current system, the search for honest politicians is a chimera. The solution lies in reforming the rules of the political game”

    “In other words, TCA says that wishful thinking of the Palkhivala school, in looking for politicians of vision (sic) is not realistic.”

    Going with the zist of this article, if everyone else is corrupt around, you can not stay honest and not-corrupt. This is suggesting that you go with the flow, doesn’t matter right or wrong. Your conscience and your mind has no role in how you live. This is absolutely foolish, in my view. What it is suggesting is that, if everyone throw trash on the road, you blame them and then you also throw on the road. You have a choice of making your own rules and put the trash in a trash can at the corner of the street.

    The implicit rules of politicians are ONCE made explicitly by some politicians. That means, if one politician make a new rule EXPLICITLY, over a long run, that rule becomes implicit. So if we elect one honest politician or a politician with a vision, it is possible that some day all politicians will become honest, as per the implicit rules in this article itself.

    I have not studied so many books that try to backfit the behaviour of politicians in a nice so called framework or I do understand the verbatim in this article fully, but as an entrepreneur I have experienced the visions and committment of two chief ministes first hand, Chandrababu naidu of AP and SM Krishna of Karnataka. They really had vision and single handedly changed the course of development in their respective states. In their leadership, every politician really WORKED and every government employee DID their DUTY for they were paid, though may be out of compulsion and fear. If they continue for some time, as per the what-so-ever framework or implicit rules, new IMPLICIT rules should have been created and we should have seen politicians and govt employess working like passionate and ambitious people in other sectors.

    I am specifically talking about Indians. I do not have much understanding about others. In my view, responsibility is on every India’s INACTION.

    “While I’d love to see idealists like Paritrana succeed without soiling their hands, I’m a tad skeptical. Perhaps they’ll prove me wrong.” – Lots of people love to see that every thing will change. They wish that some framework or rules will change and that can change the world. But they hate to participate in making that change. This is the root cause of the whole issue. This is what I mean when I said, the people who talk about it, write about, have the ability to understand and take a better decision, are the SAME PEOPLE who never PARTICIPATE in the action. They hope somebody else will take the ACTION. They just love to see it happen. They seldom set themselves into ACTION.

    Comment by Murali — June 23, 2006 @ 7:06 pm

  20. Murali

    Thanks for your comments, so far. I’d recommend that you read the blog post and the TCA article. Would love to hear your comments, after that.

    Comment by Prashant Kothari — June 24, 2006 @ 7:19 am

  21. In my opinion, TCA’s “analysis” is too vague to be meaningful. I suspect that one can invent any number of arbitrary analytical frameworks on this topic and get most people to nod in agreement.
    What S. Ramachandra is more to the point. As the author of “Freakonomics” points out, given sufficient incentive, almost anyone will cheat. So the question reduces to this fundamental one: How do you make corruption less attrative? See Ramachandra’s post for how this can be done.
    If you are looking for examples, there are at least two I can think of:
    - The Delhi subway project is an example of how transparency can be used to cut through the maze of systemic corruption. The project was reported to have finished on budget and on time.
    - In the Singapore government, people in the office are paid so well that everyday bribery does not look as attractive them. That and the fact they used the preceding technique to create a functioning judicial system.

    For a discussion of the biological underpinnings of morality, I recommend “The moral animal” by Robert Wright.

    Comment by kayd — August 27, 2006 @ 2:48 pm

  22. HEAT HURTS CROPS
    PLUMSTED — Local farmer John Marchese will still be feeling the term life quote from this summer next year. The hot and dry summer has hurt crops all over the state, term life quote Marchese fears he will be hit twice as hard.

    Comment by term life quote — August 27, 2006 @ 5:02 pm

  23. I am 23 years old. I have done BMS (Management Course), working as financial researcher. I don’t want to comment anything because all make their comments but don’t do anything. But i want to become honest politician, more than politician i want to become social worker. We (India) have more than enough resources to become superpower country. Just want to ask everyone that: how can i become politician? Is there anyone who can help me out and show the way?? If anyone practically knows how to get into politician, please send message to me.

    Comment by Sandeep — November 12, 2006 @ 10:54 pm

  24. Prashant,
    I agree that the election-funding bit does contribute to a large extent. Reminds me of what an American once told me. “in the former Commonwealth Nations candidates are bought like this (rubbing his thumb and forefinger to sign for money) and here in the US, like this (gesturing a signature with a pen on a legal document)”.

    Comment by PH — November 30, 2006 @ 1:56 am

  25. The politicians don’t come from other planets do they? Our own society produces them. It’s a flaw of democracy: popularity matters more than ability. And society decides who is popular based on the “image” of the person rather than his/her achievements. It happens in films, it happens in politics.

    Comment by Sridhar Jagannathan — December 3, 2006 @ 6:20 pm

  26. I agree with Sridhar. Politics or medicine or any other profession. Lets face it. There is corruption in India. In politics there are more opportunities that’s all. And more power. And better ability to get away with it.
    You will surprised how corrupt even educational institutions are. I tried to admit my daughter into Fergusson College this academic year for a BA course and they asked for one and a half lakhs.
    This is the state of our country today. Pune at one time was a centre for learning.

    Comment by Nita Jatar Kulkarni — December 5, 2006 @ 12:24 pm

  27. maybe we should let politicians work on a commission basis. for starters, their salaries are ridiculously little. so, let them keep say 10% of the bribes they make. and if you find a way to make this legal, then they can breathe safer, and make a decent living, while not trying to make a gargantuan amount.
    of course, this is a random thought from a non-economics guy, and might amount to sacrilege, and for this I apologize.

    Comment by Arvind Ashok — February 8, 2007 @ 9:55 am

  28. I have been tracking this post with interest…not just for the range of thoughts and ideas but also due to a personal interest in this whole subject.

    The optimist in me says that at some point over the next 10-15 years, things will change (assuming that the socio-economic growth continues – and the benefits are distributed relatively evenly)…what gives me real hope though is the transformation in traditional media because of technology…

    As someone has commented above, once this happens, the cost of reaching out to voters (which is where most of campaign financing goes – and which is the BIGGEST barrier for any reasonably honest person to even consider standing for elections) will hopefully drop to a point where it no longer is an impediment…

    Second, it is only when enough of the populace have their stomachs full and a comfortable shelter for their families that true political reform can come about…until then most of us would be too busy worrying (or working) for their next meal…Again, that probably means a wait of 10 years or so for fundamental reform to emerge…

    Unfortunately, the new political groupings do not give much reason to cheer. See e.g. http://hindudharma.wordpress.com/2007/03/24/dark-clouds-just-got-darker/

    Over the longer term though, all is not lost…

    Comment by B Shantanu — March 24, 2007 @ 2:23 am

  29. Elected politicians must be paid well. If these jobs don’t attract middle class, educated, Indians, India will continue to be run by uneducated bumkins.

    It’s time educated, middle class India pushed the bumkins out of politics.

    Comment by HarvardGrad — April 18, 2007 @ 6:40 am

  30. @Ramachandra, @Rishi: Good analysis and just so my comment can be seen in context of yours,, you outlined: Discretion, Transparency, Shortages, Concentration of power, Economic deprivation/ inequality and small-scale democracy.

    For a counter-example, which easily meets all your criteria but illustrates ‘innovation’ in corruption, look at the UK at the moment. The UK has gone beyond cash in brown envelopes to ask questions on behalf of Al-Fayed, for which a minister served a jail sentence under Tories. Now with the working people’s party, New Labour, has a party fund-raiser, who is handing out peerages in return for money and a peer who is also an Attorney General wants to have a say before the fund-raiser is tried. Now stealing funds from charity campaigns, like Jeffrey Archer did, is considered such a minor offence that he served jail but was not stripped of his peerage! In other words, in a rule-based, completely transparent, open market based economy with relatively little inequality (compared to India), you do not see absence of corruption but new avenues and innovation in corruption. So India is not alone in this misfortune, and whenever this comes up, I regale stories about corruption in the Western politics to my father to tell him that the difference is only dhoti versus Saville Row suit.

    Comment by Shefaly — April 24, 2007 @ 10:40 am

  31. Many political parties in India are mere opportunistic. They just wait for some reason to fool a particular section of society. I hate parties like BJP, samajwadi party and BSP. These parties tries to divide the country on basis of religion and caste. The younger generation should be smart enough to understand their wicked game.

    Comment by Kala Sugumaran — October 3, 2007 @ 12:48 am

  32. [...] 3) The compensation levels in government are woefully low, so much so that it’s very difficult for many public servants to “afford morals”. And, of course, politicians have their own fund-raising pressures. [...]

    Pingback by The Indian Economy Blog » Meet The New Boss…? — December 3, 2007 @ 1:32 am

  33. [...] [link] Indians tend to subscribe to the Nadlerian view with some exceptions. [...]

    Pingback by The Indian Economy Blog » Why Does India Have Such Terrible Politicians — 3 — December 8, 2007 @ 2:57 am

  34. [...] posts in this series: 1, 2 and [...]

    Pingback by The Indian Economy Blog » Why Does India Have Such Terrible Politicans - 4 — February 19, 2008 @ 12:30 am

  35. [...] Politics in India is simply terrible. [...]

    Pingback by Swaroop C H, The Dreamer » Archives » How to defend India? — February 23, 2008 @ 9:59 pm

  36. [...] Politics in India is simply terrible. [...]

    Pingback by ‘Everything’s fine till something happens to you’ « churumuri — February 25, 2008 @ 9:50 am

  37. Because no one cares, I have spoken to many common people and tried to get them to understand how the politicians squander public money but they are tolerant to corrupt politicians.

    Common man expects a politician to be corrupt and he doesn’t care as they are eating some one else’s money, They do not understand that money belongs to them and they would have better roads, house, jobs, education, toilets etc if that money is swindled and instead used for its intended purposes.

    The solution to this problem will come only when people think about goverment money as tax payers money indended to change their life.

    corrupt politician is stealing money that would have made your life better (Ie;better housing,schools,jobs,roads,hospitals,Fresh air to breath)

    Comment by galicula — July 10, 2008 @ 10:50 am

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