The corrupt Indian

So Anna Hazare and Team Anna are back with their fight against corruption in India and to ensure the implementation of the Lokpal Bill. There are mixed reports in the media about the success of this round of agitation, as none of the expected fasting, sloganeering, jail bharos, allegations, counter allegations, etc., etc, has really taken off. It the reports are to be believed then it appears that the movement has lost momentum as well as direction this time around.

I feel that part of the reason for the Anna juggernaut not sustaining is due to their simplistic understanding of corruption. Today, corruption is no longer only about those who take bribes; it is also about those who give bribes. Corruption is not only financial; it is moral, ethical, ecological, societal, ideological, creative… It is not only the politicians and the bureaucracy who are corrupt; society itself has become corrupt.

Corruption no longer has a simple definition; today, it is highly contextualised, complex, layered and subjective. What one person perceives as corruption can be another person’s “legitimate” way of securing his/her future! Take the case of a person who bribes his or her way to a lucrative posting within the organisation he/she works for. This is done with the understanding that the returns are worth the bribe paid. Think Customs, the Mumbai Octroi, the RTO… and you’ll know what I mean.

Corruption is so endemic and blatant that we have taken it for granted in a matter-of-fact way. Regrettably, the discourse on corruption in India rarely reflects its subjective understanding or its diversity or its depth or its endemic nature. Mostly, we get to read dry and technical analyses full of academic jargon, tables and figures and how India is being bled dry economically. Most of the articles are dramatic exposes intended to shock and titillate, but which ignore the deeper malaise that grips our society. Though some of these articles go into the reasons behind the corruption, very rarely does it take a mirror to the society we inhabit and present the different faces of the corrupt Indian.

I am surprised at the blinkers that we have on as we only have to look around us to see the many faces and avatars of the corrupt Indian 😦

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Remembering Satyendra Dubey

Today is 27/11. A day that is almost over at the time of publishing this post. For many, it may have been a day like any other. For some, it may have been a day marking a personal or professional milestone. But 27/11 is no ordinary day. It is a day that no Indian should forget for it was on this day, 8 years ago, that the issue of entrenched corruption in India was brought to the forefront like never before. It was the day that Satyendra Dubey was killed for exposing corruption.


Satyendra Dubey was a bright young engineer and project manager of the Golden Quadrilateral, one of India’s most ambitious road-building projects undertaken by the National Highway Authorities of India (NHAI). In a letter to the Prime Minister’s Office in May 2003, he exposed  the corruption and irregularities in the road building contracts issued by the NHAI for this project. In the same letter, he also requested for his identity to be kept a secret. The contents of the letter and his identity were ‘leaked’ by the Prime Minister’s Office and on 27 November 2003, he was shot dead in Gaya, Bihar. His murder sparked off an unprecedented public outrage in a country that is quite thick-skinned and immune to such callousness. It would not be incorrect to say that Satyendra Dubey’s was probably the first martyr against corruption in recent times

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