Dear Politicians: Corruption is NOT just a middle class concern

The battle’s really heating up now between the members of civil society and the government over the Lokpal bill led by Anna Hazare. What’s really been bothering me for a while though is the opinion voiced by some politicians and even many members of the public that this is merely a middle class movement. That corruption doesn’t matter to the vast majority of poor people who wish for better education, roads and electricity. Hazare’s struggle has given birth to derogatory terms such as “elites” and even the word “middle class” has come to mean a section of society who’s needs don’t really matter in the long run.

Corruption affects everyone

Corruption affects everyone

But let’s bust a few myths regarding corruption and the so called “middle class.”

Everyone cares about corruption

The huge response to the anti corruption campaign and Hazare’s fast showed decisively that there’s not a single right thinking person in India who feel corruption is a non issue. Though the actual attendees of the Hazare campaign in Delhi were what we call middle class, the movement itself triggered a response in every portion of India – rich and poor. Hazare himself is a man who has worked for decades at the grassroots level and is very much in touch with what the critics like to call “the downtrodden.” The fact that he’s chosen this issue and has been able to persuasively sell it to those whom he’s worked with all his life reflects the fact that this issue resonates deeply with all classes of society.

The middle class is as important as the poorer sections

Though we think of India as a poor country, millions are being lifted out of poverty ever year. What we call the rich class now will become the middle class of tomorrow and the poverty line will keep on rising. Today’s middle class is huge. We have a powerful voice. There are many who feel that the poor section of society is more important than those who are better off. But we too have the same rights as citizens of India that everyone else has. Our concerns are as important as anyone else’s.

India’s anti poverty schemes have proven to be some of the most effective programs in history. The result of that is what we call the middle class. And when the middle class protests en masse against something, politicians had better listen for their own good. The Internet and the media have given people a certain power which is unparalleled in the history of the world. And we’re going to use it.

Corruption affects everything

One politician went so far as to say that poor people don’t care about corruption. That we must focus on proper education and providing food to everyone. Does this guy think that corruption is unrelated to the governments failure in its public schemes? Just think how much more we can achieve if the money spent on social upliftment actually reached the beneficiaries! Corruption affects everything.

Unless we let go of this dangerous idea that corruption is just a “middle class concern” and that only the “elites” care about lakhs of crores of rupees being wasted, politicians will continue to use that idea to try and delay an effective Lokpal bill. Let’s not delude ourselves into thinking that a small section of society has “hijacked” the debate on corruption. In the next 10 years or so, the middle class will be 41% of India’s population. There’s nothing small about that.

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Comments

  1. Dear Bhagwad

    You’re rightly emphasised that corruption affects everyone. I didn’t know that this needed mentioning.

    My major problem with the current approach to dealing with corruption is that it is pointless. It won’t fix the problem since it doesn’t even tangentially deal with the source.

    The fact that extra-constitutions methods have been used is another (relatively minor) matter.

    S

    Reply

    • In reply to Sanjeev Sabhlok

      Control, Regulation, and Protection are biggest enemies of any democratic society. These factors benefit only powerful and rich. For rest of the population they intrduce market failures and erode economy.
      These factors make all growth processes slow enough to create balck money and black markets. I believe India has false democracy and manupulated capitalism where most of the economics principles failes to deliver results. At the name of regulation and protectionism the rich and powerful people create rules for their own benefits.

      Reply

  2. Kind of silly to think that one group would monopoly over concern about corruption. For a politician to say that poor people don’t care about corruption, well that’s just ignorance. If we were to look who are impacted by corruption the worst, it’s probably going to be poor people.

    I also agree with Sanjeev’s point, getting to the source of corruption will fix the problem.

    Reply

    • In reply to RenKiss

      Our politicians seem to think that they just need to give freebies to poor people to keep them happy. They think that initiatives to solve “higher problems” like corruption in government concern only the middle class.

      Ignorance at its worst!

      Reply

  3. Bhagwad, our politicians are cunning, so they “give freebies to poor people to keep them happy” or, let me hasten to correct, “to keep them dependent on freebies” forever.

    There is a little bit of truth in what these politicians say, when they claim that corruption concerns “only the middle class”. The poorer class has no time to stop and think and they do not know how to apply pressure on the political system. The richer class knows about corruption and how to control it, but half of them are happy to have corruption so that they can control the government by making use of corrupt politicians. The middle class has some free time to think and is disgusted as they don’t enjoy the level of control that the richer class has. This reality is probably filtering out through those comments.

    Reply

    • In reply to Mkgtso

      I think we must give the poorer classes far more credit than we currently do. They’re not idiots. They can see as well as anyone how pervasive corruption is in India since they’re actually affected by it more than anyone else.

      Also, though some regular people do benefit from corruption, given a chance to eradicate corruption and also not give any more bribes to anyone, people will choose to remove corruption without hesitation.

      No one is happy about corruption – except the politicians.

      Reply

  4. Arun Kumar says

    Look at the corruption by a member of JPC, who is investigating 2g scam. We need a stronger bill to punish corrupt politicians. No wonder they oppose this

    http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2011/06/24/politics-journal-the-trio-of-female-chief-ministers-storms-delhi/?mod=google_news_blog

    Addressed From:
    Student Reprsentatives of Adhiyaman College of Engineering
    Addressed To:
    Smt. MEIRA KUMAR, LOK SABHA SPEAKER
    20 Akbar Road, New Delhi – 110 011
    ACTION REQUESTED: STUDENTS REQUEST – DISQUALIFY DR. THAMBI DURAI FROM 2G SPECTRUM SCAM JOINT PARLIAMENT COMMITTEE & MP
    Respected Madam,
    We request you to remove Dr. Thambi Durai (AIADMK MP) from 2G spectrum scam JPC. Following reasons
    – We are students and college staff members in Adhiyaman College of Engineering (Address: Dr. MGR Nagar, Hosur, Krishnagiri, Tamil Nadu, PIN CODE – 635109). Dr. Bhanumathi is our Chairperson (Wife of Dr. Thambi Durai)
    – Dr. Thambi Durai is a corrupted individual. In our opinion, he is not qualified to investigate corruption of other politicians.
    – He and his wife own about 10 Engineering colleges in Tamil Nadu and many other colleges in Faridabad, UP (Adhiyaman Educational Trust). Their value is Rs. 3000 Crore rupees, but his election affidavit hides this detail. Many in college management told that he gave false details to Election commission. Election Commission, please start investigation
    – Tamil Nadu state Government Education department stipulates Engineering colleges should collect tuition fees as per their ceiling limits (Approx. Rs. 45,000 per year). But Adhiyaman Engineering college authorities collect money from students at a double rate (Rs. 80,000 per year). Forcing poor middle class students to pay higher fees is a crime. We have evidence records to prove.
    – College Management prepares fake salary vouchers to show to UGC and AICTE. College staff is paid very less salary in hand. They are also angry about this cheating
    – Even when DMK was ruling, Adhiyaman college authorities were never afraid about the Government and still collected higher tuition fees. Thambi Durai has friends in DMK and he used to threaten in case of student complaints. How do you expect him to probe and bring out truth in 2G scam when DMK members are his friends
    – In DMK ruling, Thambi Durai and his Management involved in several corrupt dealings to receive Government aids and licenses. To change our college status (Government aided college status), college Management paid Rs. 50 Lakh to former Vice Chancellor Dr. Radha Krishnan. Later Dr. Radha Krishnan was arrested (corruption). One AICTE inspection member was also paid by Dr. Radha Krishnan. We have bank transaction details proof and willing cooperate in secret. This money was given to a trust owned by Dr. Radha Krishnan’s wife in Coimbatore.
    – Dr. Thambi Durai bribed many Vice Chancellors and Education Minister in DMK period. He is involved in many money dealings with them and he made two Vice Chancellors (Dr. Viswanathan and Dr. S. Kaliappan) to join his party (AIADMK). Vice Chancellors helped Dr. Thambi Durai in many approvals and licenses. No complaint about Adhiyaman college is never investigated by Education Department
    – UGC members and AICTE members are also paid in money for keeping quiet. Old Coimbatore VC Radha Krishnan knows all details
    – We have no trust State Government will take action. No action in DMK government and definitely no action in AIADMK government
    – Relatives of Bangalore Court Judge …………… studying in our college. Tuition is completely free for them. Everything is free for them. This Judge is handling some important cases related to MP Mr. Thambi Durai. Sometimes relatives of this judge stayed in our Guest house. He can even bribe Judges, and close the case. Very powerful person
    – He used many staff members and students to give money voters in Karur (MP election in 2009). 70 crores spent in election. Unaccounted money in Adhiyaman Educational trust was illegally transferred to Karur and distributed to voters (Rupees 500 for one vote, Rupees 2000 for one family). It is an open secret in college.

    Based on reasons, please remove corrupt AIADMK MP Dr Thambi Durai from 2G spectrum JPC and disqualify him as MP. Please start corrupt cases against him. Jail him.
    If no action from you, we go for hunger strike. Some of our poor students, .
    …………………………..
    ……………………………
    Respectfully,
    Student Representatives of Adhiyaman Engineering College & Management Staff
    Carbon Copy To:
    1) Mr. PC Chacko, MP, JPC Chairperson
    2) CEC, Election Commission of India
    3) 2G JPC Members
    4) Chief Vigilance Commission
    ……………………………………..
    ……………………………………..
    14) Dr. Subramanian Swamy, Janata Party

    Reply

  5. Siddhartha says

    Most of the communities in the entire Indian sub-continent(such as Bengali) succumbed in ‘Culture of Poverty'(Oscar Lewis), irrespective of class or economic strata, lives in pavement or apartment. Nobody is at all feel regret ed or ashamed of the deep-rooted corruption, decaying general quality of life, worst Politico-administrative system, weak mother language, continuous absorption of common social space (mental as well as physical, both). We are becoming fathers & mothers only by self-procreation, mindlessly & blindfold(supported by some lame excuses). Simply depriving their(the children) fundamental rights of a decent, caring society, fearless & dignified living. Do not ever look for any other positive alternative behaviour(values) to perform human way of parenthood, i.e. deliberately co-parenting children those are born out of ignorance, extreme poverty. It seems that all of us are being driven only by the very animal instinct. If the Bengali people ever be able to bring that genuine freedom (from vicious cycle of ‘poverty’) in their own life/attitude, involve themselves in ‘Production of (social) Space’ (Henri Lefebvre), initiate a movement by heart, decent & dedicated Politics will definitely come up. – Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay, 16/4, Girish Banerjee Lane, Howrah-711101.

    Reply

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