Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Blog in haste...

My post yesterday looks a bit ludicrous after the events of today. The India corruption story has just taken a turn for the dramatic: Anna Hazare and 1300 other people have been arrested in connection with his planned hunger strike over the corruption bill, and the Indian government is busy denying that it is suppressing democratic protest. Things are starting to get rather hot under the collar.

It seems like the debate over corruption is morphing into a cartoon battle between Goodies and Baddies, with no-one quite sure which is which and the issues over which they are fighting starting to slip into the background. Much as this latest move by the government looks like an over-reaction, I think a part has been played here by the blunt tactics used by Hazare, which seem to have opened the way for the level of debate to decline to who is prepared to push hardest.

It's not like India has no track record in more productive and innovative ways of tackling the issue. In 2007, an Indian NGO called the 5th Pillar started producing Zero Rupee Notes: a "banknote", made to look similar to the 50 rupee note, with a stated value of zero rupees. The idea was that citizens could present this to officials who solicit bribes as a way to shame them and to "say no to corruption without the fear of facing an encounter with persons in authority."

Clearly this isn't going to root out a problem the scale of India's, but as a means to raise the issue of corruption and to empower ordinary citizens to speak out about it, it's a great initiative and in my view better than trying to browbeat the government by going on hunger strike. This country suffers a lot from corruption. I think its people deserve a better approach to addressing the problem than they are getting.


Ranoo Singh Yadav said...

I was thinking you will write on this topic. About your blog being popular in france as mentioned by you, earlier on one of my comment, It was coz i was searching for information to give my colleagues here in France who want to live in Delhi. I prefer to give them real life experience through the eye of an expat himself. I found your blog well written and interesting hence I am passing on the link to french ppl. so do not be surprised if you have french ppl quizzing you.Also I see that you read, I suggest a book called White Tiger by Aravind Adiga, it won the man booker prize and is hilarious and interesting insight into contemporary India. happy reading & writing.

Chris said...

Thanks Ranoo, I am really happy you have recommended the blog to your friends! It's a one sided view of India of course, and having only been here a few months I can hardly claim expertise, but I hope my impressions are of some interest. I have read White Tiger and enjoyed it greatly - am planning to get hold of Adiga's new book soon!