Saturday, December 11, 2010

Corruption galore

Living in India, I have to deal with hundreds, thousands, lacs (one hundred thousand), ten lacs (one million) and then caror (ten million). One caror, that’s a tidy sum of money, especially in India. About US$225,000 at today’s exchange rate. To put this amount into perspective, I just sold my apartment (they call it flat here) at about 2 carors Rupees. So you can buy a comfortable 3 bedroom 1,250 sq ft apartment for about UD$450,000. Yes, tiny size and steep in price by US standards but pretty normal here in the upper middle class neighborhood of Andheri West, Mumbai.

Why am I yapping on about Indian money, you wonder? Well, what if I told you that a minister in the current government (allegedly) stole, yes, stole 176,000 caror Rupees. He gave away licenses for mobile phone technology to corporations at 2001 rates, causing the exchequer the colossal loss. That is 176,000,000,000,000 Indian Rupees or US$ 39 Billion, almost two times the entire GDP of Tanzania (2009 statistics). This is a toenail curling amount.

I knew this country was knee deep with corrupt officials; what I did not realize how deep, brazen and unconscionable the politicians involved are. This dude got caught with his pants down, literally. But watching his demeanor and haughtiness on television makes my blood boil. He knows, he bloody well knows nothing will happen to him as the culpability of colluding officials benefiting from this scam run deep. Yes, the newspapers will scream murder, yes there will be an inquiry, yes he will be banished for a year or two. But he will return, yes Sir, he will. Just like past ministers, chief or otherwise, caught with their dirty hands in muck, dismissed, banished and then incorporated back into the system; cleansed and laundered like black money to white.

Tragedy is, citizens of India don’t care. These things happen so jan do, yaar, chalta hai. Not a day goes by without the media lambasting Pakistan, China as enemies, out to destroy India. I suggest these countries may not cause as much destruction to India as, sadly, sleaze will sink her faster, deeper.

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