Are Indians endemically corrupt as a people?

2G scam, CWG scam, mining scam, Adarsh housing scam, NREGA scam, coffin scam, matchfixing scam, denotification scam…. There is no escaping India’s favourite four-letter word in the papers and on television, and in everyday conversation.

Everybody—ministers, MPs, MLAs, industrialists, godmen, corporate executives, film stars, corporate executives, cricketers, anti-corruption activists—everybody, it seems, is in it, in some form or the other, to bend the rules and make a quick buck or a trillion.

As Rajat Gupta, the India-born former head of McKinsey, the global consulting firm, enters the overflowing hall of the shame, for his alleged role in insider trading involving the Sri Lanka-born Tamil, Raj Rajaratnam, the columnist Malavika Sangghvi asks a pretty obvious question in Business Standard:

“As the global poster boy of corporate India stands arrested and faces trial, I think the time has come to raise that awful question that has been the elephant in our drawing room for years: are we (how do I put gently?) endemically corrupt as a people?

“Think about it. Some of the world’s biggest scams originate here, our bandwith for unscrupulousness takes in intricate byzantine multi-crore schemes as well as the petty potholes-on-the-street-kickback-to-penny-pinching authority variety. We know scams, rackets, tricks and cons in all their creative genius, while our heroes, leaders, poster boys and icons all tumbe off their pedestals with sickening regularity.

“In India, misconduct or fraud or wrongdoing has no caste or class barriers, it is common to all, the great unifier, the one truly democratic creed that we all subscribe to.

“The holy river that we bathe in to cleanse ourselves of all sins is muddy and filled with garbage, the milk that we drink first thing in the morning is adulterated, the air that we breathe has been mortgaged to polluting industires, we elect people with criminal records to Parliament, our leading film stars have served a sentence in a jail or two, and our cities are vast sprawls of vested interest.”

Read the full article (if you can find it!): Business Standard

External reading: ‘Indians are c*****s’

Photograph: Rajat Gupta (centre) in happier times with Reliance Industries’ Mukesh Ambani (left) and GE’s Jack Immelt (courtesy MSN)


Also read: India’s most secular religion has to be corruption

Ramachandra Guha: “India’s too corrupt to become a superstar

CHURUMURI POLL: Do B-schools have a problem?

Do they teach this at Harvard Business School?