Tuesday, February 24, 2015

death penalty

Corruption is rife in India. The World Bank, for example, reports that in schemes to deliver food and fuel to disadvantaged communities, on average around 50% of the food or fuel is lost or finds its way to the open market. In some cases, as much as 90% goes missing. And there are endless stories of traditional landowners, smallholder farmers, particularly on the outskirts of cities, or close to major trunk routes, being forced to sell their land to private parties, who then resell the land only months later, after it has been rezoned, for ten times the price.

People ‘buy’ jobs in influential positions – jobs where they have the power to grant licences, permits, etc – it’s that much part of the way things are done.

I was reading recently about executions in China, for corruption of all things. And couldn’t help thinking of the death penalty for corruption in India. Other punishments don’t work – they’re not ‘permanent’ or ‘irreversible’. The judiciary, needless to say, is as vulnerable to corruption as any other institution.

I tried canvassing the idea of death for corruption with various Indians I’ve been talking to. After all, India recently introduced the death penalty for rape, and for want of a better soundbite: “If you can have the death penalty for raping a woman, why shouldn’t you have the death penalty for raping the country?”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the idea was less well received the further up the socio-economic scale the Indians I was canvassing were placed….

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