PALINI R. SWAMY writes from Bangalore: We can all quibble over the credibility of the CNN-IBN-Deccan Herald pre-poll survey depending on which electoral barstool we are sitting on till result day. But one of its most striking features is a small but startling insight it gives into the mind of the Karnataka voter.
The CSDS pollsters doing the fieldwork for the survey, read out this passage to respondents:
“I am going to read out a few issues which are likely to influence the voting decisions of voters in Karnataka. In deciding who to vote for, which of the following issues is likely to influence your voting decision the most?“
Out of every 100 respondents, 38 of them said the lack of basic amenities and infrastructure would influence their voting decision; 21 of them said the condition of farmers; 11 of them said the stability of the government would influence their voting decision.
Just 8 out of every 100 respondents said corruption would influence their voting decision. In other words, 92 out of every 100 people indicated that corruption wouldn’t didn’t indicate that corruption would influence their voting decision.
This, in a State which has been exposed to mind-numbing images of sleaze and graft over the last decade, so much as to be called the “Bihar of the South.”
Chief ministers and their families (and sons-in-law and girlfriends) buying up property worth tens of crores. Ministers counting notes on live television. Ministers treating portfolios like their family fief, legislators building educational and shopping complexes, apartments and hotels. Mine owners hopping around in helicopters. Lok Ayukta unearthing crores worth “disproportionate” assets from officers and clerks.
Why, in a relatively poor State that has seen such a torrent of corruption, has corruption ceased to be an important issue for the voter when he stands in front of the electronic voting machine? Why is the voter not bothered about the personal aggrandisement, at his cost, of those whom he elects?
Have we become desensitised to corruption with so much of it all around us? Has corruption become a way of life, a part of our lives? Are we not bothered because we are just concerned about “getting our work done”? Have we started accepting corruption as a necessary evil, something which won’t go away come what may?
Have we somehow factored it into our lives for all time to come?
Ravi Krishna Reddy, the NRI techie standing from Jayanagar, has sent out the following promise:
“If elected, I will not buy any property during my tenure. I will also not run any other profit making business. I will meet my and my family’s expenses from my salary as a legislator and my wife’s salary.”
Is such an open declaration of intent of integrity something we, as voters, don’t like or don’t trust? For all our protestations, do we see vicariously power-politics as an short-cut to quick money? Do we want our leaders to make it big, make it rich, and live in style? And if he or she is of our caste, community, religion, language, the better?
Are we very forgiving or very foolish?
Are we caught in a feudal trap, where we want our leaders to be like rulers?
Or, are we all hopelessly corrupt in our own little ways, which is why we are so subliminally sympathetic of those who practice it so openly, so brazenly, so unapologetically?
Is that why the words “sketch” and “deal” have become such an integral part of Kannada popular culture?
Also read: How China changed the politics of Karnataka
Photograph: courtesy Press Trust of India
When we live with evil long enough, it stops shocking us. Such is the case with corruption. Its banality and seeming indestructibility have made it acceptable to, say, at least, 70 per cent of people living between the Bheema and the Kabini.
For starters, who among us knows a person who has neither given or received a bribe? I forget the name of the scoundrel, but a minister in S. M. Krishna’s cabinenet said that bribes were a form of tips and there was not anything wrong with greasing one’s way along. Two years ago, Siddharamayya said that were Gandhi alive today, he too would have accepted illegal contributions to this party. Neither man was publicly rebuked by anybody.
Pointing fingers is easy takes an eternity. The question is what to do and how. Recently, I spoke to a friend about demonetization helping to unearth black money. He said within two years we would have to repeat the action. There is a wondeful Kannada short story in which a prostitute happily outwits an advocate and disappears with the demonetized bag of his client. Corruption is looking at ourselves in a hall of mirrors.
In the end, I am sorry for those who cannot bribe anybody because they don’t have the money.
Incidentally, is’nt there a village called “Kailancha,” not far from where HDK owns forty-five acres of land within walking distance of Ashok Kheni’s chatushpada animal?
“Just 8 out of every 100 respondents said corruption would influence their voting decision. In other words, 92 out of every 100 people indicated that corruption wouldn’t influence their voting decision.”
Incorrect conclusion. The correct conclusion can only be that “92 out of every 100 people did not indicate that corruption would influence their voting decision.”
Corruption is no longer a dirty word, after it gave tne needed victory to VP VP Singh the crusader of corruption against Rajiv Gandhi.
for the definition of corruptionand honesty has changed. The dishonest is one, who takes money and does not do the work. If he does, he is considered as honest.
May be it has become a given today.
I disagree with Palani Chamy. Corruption is still quite an issue. You cant just argue that its no more a big issue based on the senseless survey of DC-CNNIBN-Yogendra Yadav.
What if the sample of the survey had corrupt people themselves in a large number?
“Are we very forgiving or very foolish?”
We are very foolish as a society. (Remember, it hardly has anything to do with your individual intellectual ability).
These politicians are not aliens. They are coming out of us. Take a look at the madness in the name of ‘getting ticket’. Everyone is acting like a moron, arguing on the lines of religion, caste and sub-caste!
Oh well – if you get a chance, read “Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies” by Jared Diomand. You get an idea…
T Shettre – you make a very valid point. As a group, often people show tendencies that are contradictory to their individual ideals.
That being said, from a very long time in our country most of the work done for public good was done on gratis. Not everyone was a paid employee. So the concept of giving dakshina, donations or whatever you call it has been ingrained in society. Therefore, people are a little forgiving in most cases when it comes to giving.
The writer who is obviusly a offshoot of divine tamil is hell bent on proving that karnataka is a bihar of south.
This is a negative side-effect of being a democracy. That is a bunch of groups vying for power every few years, and the balance of power decided by the collective vote of everyone.
Everyone wants to get rich. You need to money to hang onto power and fight the next election. And since we are an in-efficient, over-populated nation – the easiest way to make money is by ‘corruption’.
Hopefully over time, this will also correct itself:
Politics is becoming a family profession. Once the first generation have made enough money for themselves – the next will hopefully give something back to the society that gave their parent the opportunity to enrich themselves.
pragmatic: Clearly, we assume that the sample taken was randomized and free of bias. The authors of the study don’t have any motive in skewing the sample one way or another.
As I go through churmuri, it shows how biased the blog is for Deccan Herald newspaper, its like another face of a dirty paper. Today, we were shocked to know through local dailies that the Deccan Herald reporter threatened a prestigious builder in Bangalore city that he would publish reports against him if he does not fulfill his demands, and this newspaper publishes all false allegations on Upa Lokayukhta for no reason (or because they raided the house of DH associated police officers) …. when we corruption in the media, forget about politics… I think the editor wakes up
This may be because every voter knows that all the political parties and leaders criticize corruption (even Siddaramaiah). They know that Dr. Man Mohan Singh himself may not take bribe, but he is not able to disassocaite from those who opnely take bribes (like Lalu Prasad Yadav or any number of VVIPs in his cabinet). The same is true of Sonia Gandhi who does not even pretent to fight corruption like her late husband.
As a result voter has to choode between twiddledee and twilddledom and they are both corrupt. Therefore naturally if they have to vote, and they need to decide between these corrupt candiadtes and are forced to ignore corruption.
It is true that Ravi Reddy has made a good start. But to be serious candidate he should have started to work not just on the eve of the election. If he works hard, and get to know his voters, then on the plank of not taking bribes, he can win disproving the thesis that voters do not care for corruption.
corruption is all embraced. It may not influence any voter atleast in urban areas. As we cannot believe our professional politicians so also the new crop of Mining owners, Realtors and so on. who would be no better than the present politicians. Some othrs have changed their coats just for election like Ravi Reddy. He too has failed to impress as he is also like any other pudhari using Gandhi statute to gain atteention of the people. Where was he all these days. Let these election politicians not pose themselves as people’s rep. One Swamiji in a Kannada paper says we have to elect a less criminal and we have no choice. Why we should support less/mor criminal. We should have powers to express our negation to the candidates on the ballot paper or EV machine.
When murderers are candidates, thugs are partymen, corruption is all pervasive, voters are becoming extinct, expectation from governance is zilch…these findings hardly matter. It is like asking those who visit the brothel, if virginity is an issue.
To put it differently, if there was even one honest politician in the fray, people would have seen a solution and hence recognised the problem and named it. Now they are looking at other “good” that they may be able to extract despite corruption.
The NRI techie–may his tribe increase –is only speaking now. People will wait and watch what he does. You see, as a politician, it is important to remain clean and still make a difference. If he is an effective leader, he will definitely make people look up to him. Corruption is definitely an issue, people are just clever enough to bid their time and push their agenda when there is a solution in sight.
End of the day for the people the choice is the lesser evil among all the evils in the fray.
May his bribe increase!
I am very fond of the poem “Abu ben Adam.” Couldn’t help noticing the quote.
I as a voter from Jayanagar constituency am not very impressed by Ravi krishna Reddy’s statement of not buying any property and not running any business in the tenure. It seems to be more of idealism without any thought for the reality. Corruption is lesser of an issue in the elections nowadays because the bigger issue is lack dynamic leaders who find solutions to problems. Most of our politicians only know how to complain and point fingers rather than find solutions for pressing problems. And those corrupt leaders who have ensured that problems of majority of the people are being solved, will keep getting elected.
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