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Corruption: Not as small as you think

Many people in India brush up the fact that we have corrupt officials. But on a daily basis, every Indian simply gets along like a true hypocrite. No one wonders how it’s hampering our daily life and leaving us behind all other countries. Poverty everywhere, slums, poor government services and what not. And we all have kind of made ourselves believe that it’s the government’s fault. But Corruption: Not as small as you think
It has always bothered me, how can a country with a billion people struggle with third world problems? Even if every man or woman donates 1 rupee, there would be plenty of money to eradicate poverty in the country altogether. So how is it possible that despite all the taxes we pay, we still have poor roads, ugly slums, unhygienic government hospitals and really bad economic divide? Where is all our money going?
I introspected a lot. This is what an ideal government cycle looks like:

Fig 1: ideal government funds functioning
You see the government makes money solely by taxes collected from people and private sectors. This money is then sent forth for administration, like government officials’ salary as well as development and infrastructure. Roads, railways, electricity etc. depend all on the annual budget that comes from government.
Suppose 100 people pay 1 rupee tax each. What happens then? Government earns 100 rupees from people. That money is sent forth for infrastructure and administration. Say there are 5 government officials, earning 5 rupees salary each. Thus, 25 rupees gets deducted from the annual budget and now we have 75 rupees for proper infrastructure.
Now here is where one form of corruption takes place.
Say 4 out of 5 officials are corrupt. They will swoop away most of the budget. They fill their pockets. So out of 75, only 15 rupees go for infrastructure.
Here these government officials are also people. But now along with their 5 rupees salary, they have secured additional 15 rupees for themselves, making themselves richer than the fifth guy, thus automatically building an economic divide.

Fig 2: The Economic Divide
The story doesn’t end here. The “rich” guys will pretend to be poor, or honest, and then they will give away only 1 rupee tax that they are entitled to. Thus on paper they will show they are paying their due taxes, but in hindsight they will be paying not even 1% of what they are earning. The honest guy on the other hand will be paying unfairly more percentage of their income, which on paper might be what they are entitled to, but compared to their personal income it will be huge part of their salary.
And what is the service they get in return? Poor road facilities, bad power outages, really bad sleeper class in trains. The richer guys can afford a better facility, but what about the poor one? This all could have been prevented, had the other officials not been corrupt and spending the money on the infrastructure!
Now we discuss about the private sector.
Most of India’s private sector is either industries, or small scale businesses. Industries still have a transparent paperwork about their taxes (well, most of them), it’s the small scale businesses that take away most of India’s wealth. You might fall for the poor looking street vendor who sells paani-puri on a poor looking cart. But they are those who never have to pay taxes. That means, whatever income they make is solely theirs. So say out of our 5 rupees salary, if we spend 1 rupee for the street vendor, that 1 rupee isn’t going for infrastructure. That money won’t be utilized for better electricity, or water. It will be with the vendor and he will spend on his personal property. I have spoken to various street vendors and often they come out to be professional businessmen with 2-3 more branches, their own employees, their own flat and employee flat. They hire their guys for a good salary who could sell their paani puri at other corners of the city. Many of them have posh apartments; many spend on land and property, their children’s marriage etc. This is the situation of small scale businesses. Just imagine what happens in big industries!

Fig 3: Corruption
So consumerism is also a big scam. The government earns little to no money because of several corrupt scams going on in the country.
And it doesn’t mean government is not to blame.
More often it is the problem of our weak judicial system. We don’t have strong laws against crimes and criminals. I have heard people say this old beaten dialogue, “Better 100 criminals walk away than 1 innocent getting punished!” Well, of course it is unfair to have an innocent man punished. But letting go of 100 criminals is a costly affair, don’t you think? They will attack 1000 innocent people once they are out.
So how do we fix this?
Well, honesty is a moral obligation. We cannot force people into becoming honest. It’s something that you should be responsible about as an adult. However if laws are made strict and criminals are punished for their crimes without delays, it will surely bring a difference. Chanakya, the great sage once said that the country which doesn’t have stringent laws and their punishments are weak, that country would be doomed to be corrupt. Nothing could save the country and the corruption will eat away everything like a white ant on a cardboard.
I think it is high time that our laws need to be changed. We have stupid laws like criminalization of homosexuality. What would happen if a homosexual person gets raped? Whom would they punish first?
This is stupid.
And then there’s reservation quota, non-uniform civil codes, communism…
We have to keep in mind that this is taking us nowhere. We need revised uniform civil codes, strict laws against corruption, bribery, assault, scams and scandals. We cannot let another 2G scam culprit walk away “because there were no proofs”.
It’s high time to start a revolution.



  1. Corruption only occurs where one person has power over some aspect of another person’s life/property. In case of government, it has power of an individual regarding his business interests, consumption choices, educational choices. If the government didn’t have so much power, there would be no corruption. No one would be visiting government offices if they didn’t have the power to issue licenses say to sell alcohol, medicines, license to become a doctor and other regulated occupations. Digging the earth and polluting common resources can be regulated but corruption is inevitable when you have to decide who gets to dig or how much gases need to released into atmosphere etc. However take away most of the power, the corruption goes. But try telling a tyrant to give away its power is like expecting to grow gold on trees. The solution is having a small government whose role is only protect the borders, law and order and protect common natural resources. No favoring one company over another.
    The government are inherently inefficient institutions when it comes to providing a services. There is no negative feedback that exists in private sector. If a company makes a bad product, another company will take its place in no time. If the government makes bad roads, there’s not much you can do besides changing the government every few years. Even at local levels your voices are not heard.
    Anything that the government runs will never improve. And it is same everywhere. Governments of countries such as US, UK, Canada, Australia are corrupt as well. Though they do build the roads at a cost 10x of what private sector could do.
    Hence the distrust of people in government. Why would you want to give your hard earned money to Government? The government keeps expanding its budget (every govt. does it) and keeps spending more than it ever has. No private company can think of doing it ever. But the government has all the guns and power, so you either follow them or you go to jail. Ever thought of a private company jailing you for not buying their product.
    People who are paid wages have no resort to avoid taxes. Their taxes are with held before they get salary. After that there are myriads of other taxes on the already taxed salary.
    So basically you have a behemoth of government run by humans, (we want to get as much as possible) with unlimited power (constitution is written in such a way to give government unlimited control of economy) over other humans, who have no negative feedback (like private sector does). Perhaps we should thanks our gods and our culture that we only have had one dictator yet.

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