Movement in India against corruption : Call to show solidarity

This has been a time of great turbulence for Indian society.  With two decades of globalization and rapid growth experienced by the economy year after year, the country has lot to its credit to brag about.  We have all pretence of a developed nation in our cities, our affluent upper middle class throngs the international airports almost all the times in the year and nationalistic jingoism of becoming a super power, funding European Union of out  its crisis, permanent seat in Security Council, etc. etc.   

Behind this phase of a successful economic growth within democratic framework is a stark reality of growing income inequalities, blatant corruption at the highest echelons of the society and a major part of middle class feeling left out of benefits of globalization.  This has given rise to a nationwide mass movement lead by a Gandhian Mr. Anna Hazare which is called as crusade against corruption.  The movement has been supported by organizations of all colours, but interestingly the foot soldiers are common men and women coming out on streets in millions.  This has been a major event during last six months and despite the mammoth participation by common persons which is growing each time, the western media has turned a blind eye to this historic developments.

There are several articulations about corruption but there is absence of sound theoretical basis for the concept of corruption and presently the movement is more hinged on to issues of morality on Gandhian philosophical lines. 

I for myself, classify this corruption into two parts.  One which is out of rent seeking behavior of bureaucracy at various levels.  With liberalization of economy and state partly abandoning the role of rule maker for market, this rent seeking behavior is now restricted to lower rungs of administrative machinery but a major experience for large number of common people who have to deal with them on day to day basis. 

The second, more larger and visible part of the corruption is resulting out of formation of crony capitalist class which is more detrimental to the society in the long run.

Having said the above, I wish to invite contribution from fellow members and appeal to those who have been some way connected with anti capitalism or occupy the Wall Street like movements and lend their voice of support to this movement in India. 

After all, if finance capital is creating havoc in the developed world, it is the crony capital which is our equivalent of your enemy.  In India, it has acquired mammoth proportion but I have seen its presence in every developing economy and I can say with certainty that collectively for all developing economies crony capitalism is the major enemy of people.

Together if we have to solve problems of humanity, then a unified solution has to be found out. It is then imperative that we establish linkage between these two movements and create a global presence and provide a broader humanitarian purposes to these movements.

Any thoughts?


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Thanks for bringing this important issue to our attention, Shrinivas. Perhaps one reason for our lack of engagement with, never mind support of the anti-corruption campaign in India is that the political forces lining up on this issue lack clarity both for many Indians and even more for most outsiders. A New York Times article of last August, when Anna Hazare was on hunger strike, expressed the concerns of some left-wing intellectuals that the anti-corruption bureau proposed by him would have wide powers that were inconsistent with India's democratic traditions.Some compare this movement not to Occupy Wall Street, but to the Tea Party.

There is no doubt that India has more than its fair share of crony capitalism, although the United States must be running it close, not to mention to Chinese communist party or the corruption surrounding the French and Italian governments. It is also notoriously corrupt, as you have explained very well. According to the Corruption Perceptions Index of Transparency International (whose methodology is of course debatable), India is less corrupt than eight major countries, listed here in order:

Russia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Iran, Egypt, Mexico, Indonesia, Argentina, India, Greece, China, Brazil, Italy, South Africa, Turkey, South Korea, Spain (my selection, mainly on the basis of economic importance)

You are right to argue that corruption is a hard concept to define. I would like to share this article by Sandy Robertson that appeared originally in Anthropology Today (2006, 22.2:8-11). I wonder what you and other OAC readers make of it (pre-publication copy attached). I think it is the best short analysis I have seen, but then I am in it!


Shrinivas, a politicized anti-corruption campaign, at least to me, is a suspect.  RSS and BJP, and their ultra-nationalist allies have been claiming that they are the lifeblood of the protest/campaign.

What is happening in the Indian anti-corruption campaign is a farce.  If it is about the Congress or UPA, it is corruption, but if it is about the opposition and NDA, it is political persecution.   Yeddurappa of BJP is as corrupt  as Kalmadi of Congress.  The fact is anyone  can be  corrupt  regardless of his party and politics.

In my years of following Indian current events,  it seems only the Congress is serious when it comes to anti-corruption.  If not of Sonia Gandhi's pet bill, the Right to Information, all these current scams would not have been unearthed.  

Check if the NDA, during the administration of Bajpayee, punished the corrupt.  Even the BJP president who was caught on camera accepting a bribe did not go to jail.  Now compare that to the current Congress government that sends corrupt politicians, who are even their allies, to Tihar jail. 

Hazare is a different story.   Check the backgrounds of his associates.  They are as corrupt as the politicians they vilify.  Kiran  Bedi and the Bushans?  Are you kidding?  People in the West look at the protest as a political drama.  It is far from civil disobedience and the rise of the masses.  Simply, Hazare is no Mahatma.    

Kieth & Isabel

Thanks for response. Kieth I will revert little later after studying the links given by you.


I do not wish to take a partisan view of this movement.In fact I agree with you "The fact is anyone  can be  corrupt  regardless of his party and politics"

 However, few disagreements as follows

Kiran  Bedi and the Bushans, if at all corrupt , one has to use a sense of proportion.( Are you kidding, comparing travel bills of Kiran Bedi and 2G scam!)  Besides Two wrongs dont make a right.

 Your view "It is far from civil disobedience and the rise of the masses.  Simply, Hazare is no Mahatma".  Let us agree to disagree.

However, more importantly, I am raising systemic issue and have never resorted to pointing fingures or issuing certificates.

The issue I am raising is about "action against crony capitalism" which is as much anti people as finance capital in developed economies of the west. 

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