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India's big problem of corruption 
(Tue, 23 Nov Pre-Open) 
 
Corruption in India remains a menace. Frauds, scams, bribes and the like seem to have become a way of life for politicians as well as for businesses operating in India. Even the average Indian is forced to live with this fact with no hope of any improvement. But the kind of corruption that one sees in high offices of the government is truly mind boggling. The fodder scam in Bihar, the Bofors scandal, the Satyam fiasco are some of the facets of corruption that Indians have witnessed over time. In this year alone, in a spate of months, three instances of massive corruption have been unveiled. These would be the Commonwealth Games disaster, the Adarsh Housing scam and the latest is the 2G spectrum scam.

The Indian economy has grown at a scorching pace in the last 4 years. And is set to record strong growth rates in the future as well. There has also been a considerable rise in the incomes of the middle class and the number of people in this category itself has swelled. But for all the positives, one sees a lot of extremes in the country. So on one hand you have India having one of the highest number of billionaires and on the other hand a large section of the population continues to slump below the poverty line. Infrastructure has remained woefully inadequate and reforms have been slow.

To add salt to the wound, corruption to the extent seen only slows down the government machinery. Far from adding any value, it takes a lot away from the potential that India is capable of exploiting. With billions of rupees siphoned off, the government finds itself strapped for cash. So it is not able to invest in many social sectors such as education and health to the extent required. There are so many areas where India requires good investments. Ramping up infrastructure is one for starters. Lifting people above the poverty line is another. Creating employment opportunities for India’s rising population, water harvesting techniques and proper facilities for storage of food grains are some of the examples of areas needing investments that come to mind.

An interesting article in the Wall Street journal has put into perspective how the government could have utilized the funds from the 2G spectrum had no scandal taken place. Food for every destitute Indian for the next decade. Funding of the flagship employment program for India’s marginalized for the next five years. Primary schooling for every Indian girl for the next three years. The reduction in every Indian’s tax rate by 15% for the next year, or the reduction of India’s outstanding debt by 10%.

Tackling corruption in India is a tall order since the ministers elected for leading and serving the country better are also in the thick of wanting to amass fortunes. And while the obvious solution could be to introduce laws to curb this disease, whether the politicians in government would really want to implement these measures remains a big question mark.

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