If we want clean India, why do we vote corrupt?

The Congress spokesman Manish Tiwari, was once asked in a television show as to why the Congress had given a parliamentary ticket to Mohammed Azharuddin, the former Indian cricket captain found guilty of match-fixing and banned for life from the game by the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

“We have only given him a ticket,” said Tiwari with a smirk, turning to the audience, “but you have elected him.”

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Ashok Sanjay Guha of the school of international studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“Why does the Indian electorate persistently reward crime? Why do we elect and repeatedly re-elect to seats of power those whose rightful place is in prison cells meditating on their sins in mournful solitude? Are we a basically corrupt and criminalized society which regards honesty as folly and idolizes thieves, cheats and murderers? Why is a society of predominantly honest people so profoundly pervaded by dishonesty? Why do we, regardless of our personal ethics, tolerate, and indeed reward and lionize, corruption and crime among our representatives?

“Obviously, the problem lies not in our genes, but in the systems we have produced and nurtured, systems that create what the economist calls ‘moral hazard’, rules that generate incentives for cheating and corruption. The main feature of these rules is the discretionary power they vest in particular individuals to control the economic destinies of others. Discretion implies an irreplaceable element of personal judgment which others can question only within very narrow limits. If bureaucrats or politicians are empowered to use their judgment in punishing or rewarding people, in awarding or denying them contracts, in licensing them for, or barring them from, specific activities, the temptation to use this authority for personal enrichment becomes intense.

“If even a handful of those tempted succumb and offer favourable decisions in return for bribes, the beneficiaries of such decisions acquire a competitive edge over honest rivals. The latter must then emulate the former or be driven out of the market which then becomes the exclusive domain of the dishonest. Either way, the proportion of bribe offers to decisions increases. And though one may not agree with Henry Ford that “every man has his price”, many of them undoubtedly do, so that more and more decisionmakers are lured away from the straight and narrow path. Venality becomes all-pervading.”

Read the full article: Carrying the albatross