Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Corruption: India and China

 Corruption: What is it? There is no question that corruption is, before anything else, a type of crime, thus making it and other types of crime highly correlated. Generally corruption has been defined by the UNCAC as an “abuse of public property and authority for personal gain.” In most cases it is an underhanded deal between a bribe taker, a giver and the middlemen.
Angered by crony capitalism in India and the power of the top 1% in the West, some analysts favour the so-called Beijing Consensus, or China's model. Sorry, but China has as much cronyism as other countries. 
Occupy Wall Street is a leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%. We are using the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic to achieve our ends and encourage the use of nonviolence to maximize the safety of all participants.

A recent study in Financial Times shows that relatives galore of Chinese politicians have become millionaires. The "princelings", as children of top Chinese politicians are called, have riches that dwarf comparable Indian princelings. 
Princelings are no longer content with fat consultancy fees. "The big families want to get into private equity or do business themselves, because that's where the real money is." 

When Deng Xiaoping launched China's pro-business reforms, he declared "to get rich is glorious." He meant productive businesses should be gloriously rich. But his party colleagues have found the ultimate glory in family enrichment. In the 1990, when the Chinese private sector skyrocketed, some top politicians tried to rein in their princelings. "But now there is almost no restraint," says a top official. 

Indian politicians during the independence movement aimed for ideals, not money. But once in office, their relatives became influence peddlers. Today, people enter politics mainly to make money. The emergence of political dynasties should surprise nobody: they are business dynasties by another name.

In India too, the sons and relatives of politicians often boast foreign degrees, and claim to have high technocratic skills. Here too, corporations want to hire these relatives to gain political access and influence. But we have fewer cases of princelings becoming big businessmen.

The mere fact that China has corrupt princelings does not make India less corrupt. It is no excuse for slackening our own anti-corruption efforts. Yet i suspect that most readers will, like me, grin at the expose of the princelings. The Germans call it schadenfreude-finding pleasure in the travails of others. It's mortifying to be beaten by China in one field after another, but we can enjoy China's victory over us in corrupt princelings.

Heera Lal ( Writer is Secretatry UPNEDA but views are personal)


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