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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

India: my pride, my shame

Today India completes 61 years as a Sovereign, Democratic and Republic state. We have been an independent nation for 64 years.

In this short span of time India has perfected the art of being corrupt. The CWG scam, the 2G scam, the Adarsh scam, $500 billion dollars of the country’s money stashed away in secret accounts abroad, bureaucrats discovered with Rs.300 crore stashed in suitcases at their home - these are the ones that are being talked about now. There are many from the past that we have forgotten. More importantly, we don’t remember anyone of any importance being ever punished.

With such a capacity to indulge in it, it is no surprise that corruption is so pervasive in our society, even soiling venerated institutions like the Armed Forces and the Supreme Court. We don’t need Transparency International’s studies to tell us we are rotten.

As a nation we need stalwarts in public life to look up to. The picture below defines stalwarts. We don’t have people of their vision, stature and influence anymore; however, we are desperate for them, gauging by our admiration for people like Dr. Abdul Kalam and Narayana Murthy. We need more and more people like them; we need their influence over us.

[Photo source: Don’t know who they are? See here.]

India has many good things going for it. Game-changing activities in the last 6, mostly in the last 3, decades in areas as varied as computerisation of railway reservations, telecom, low cost airlines, software and manufacturing, space research and technology, media, freeing the economy, strengthening the Election Commission, have taken our nation forward. These have been achieved by ordinary citizens doing extraordinary things without funfair, helped by some good thinking by those in government.

We need to do more: in infrastructure, providing quality education, improving agriculture, maintaining the unity without diluting the diversity and, our eternal bug bear, eradicating poverty. And there are many, with insight and zeal, already doing their bit in bringing about these changes. The scale is huge, given India’s diversity, size and population - and this all pervasive corruption makes the work tougher.

To be counted as an advanced nation, a nation truly respected, we must eradicate corruption from our midst.