‘India, not a rising power or an emerging power’

Ramachandra Guha in a piece titled “India is too corrupt to become a superpower”, in the Financial Times, London:

“The Republic of India today faces challenges that are as much moral as social or political with the Mumbai blasts having only temporarily shifted off the front pages the corruption scandals that more recent dominated. These (scandals) have revealed that manner in which our politicians have abused the State’s power of eminent domain, its control of infrastructural contracts, and its monopoly of natural resources, to enrich themselves….

“This activity cuts across political parties—small and large, regional and national. It has tainted the media too, with influential editors now commonly lobbying pliant politicians to bend the law to favour particular corporations…. [The] current wave of corruption scandals will put at least a temporary halt to premature talk of India’s rise to superstardom.

“Such fancies are characteristic of editors in New Delhi and businessmen in Mumbai, who dream often of catching up with and even surpassing China.

“Yet the truth is that India is in no position to become a superpower. It is not a rising power, nor even an emerging power. It is merely a fascinating, complex, and perhaps unique experiment in nationhood and democracy, whose leaders need still to attend to the fault lines within, rather than presume to take on the world without.”

Agree? Disagree?

Photograph: courtesy Garima Jain/ Tehelka

Also read: India’s most secular religion has to be Corruption

‘Editors and senior journalists must declare assets’

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20 Responses to “‘India, not a rising power or an emerging power’”

  1. Balaji Says:

    Just the kind of article that will fetch you space in Financial Times!

  2. Suneel Sardana Says:

    No corrupt country can ever become a super power.India is one of the most corrupt country of the world & as such we should stop living in a fool paradise.
    All our political leaders in power except very few( Narender modi & so on) are fully corrupt .
    There is hardly any C.M. & minister concerned who is not collecting hundereds of crores where CLU & licence is being granted for development & construction of housing & commercial purposes.U.P. govt.acquired land of poor farmers in noida & greater noida region @Rs.800-900/Sq.Yards,sold it to various developers without any development@10500-11000/Sq.yards.Each developer paid aprox.Rs 5000 per Sq.Yard as bribe/gratification which was shared by C.M.,all breuocrats & staff of Noida authority.
    Basically all state development authorities were incorporated to provide plots ,houses&flats to all needy at very reasonable price after development but each one of them started doing business & making huge profits besides getting gratification for their political bosses.This way hundereds of billions alone went into the hands of all these corrupt politicians,who mostly deposited the same with various foreign banks in various tax heavens transferred through known Hawala route. This is the character of our rulers so called as honourable ministers & politicians.
    This is why, these politicians are least interested to make a strong & effective Jan Lok Pal Bill as proposed by civil society lead by Mr.Anna Hazare. No party/leader is interested that such a bill be passed by the parliament.Any political party/politician who does not support in passing jan lokpal bill must be defeated in all forth coming elections to teach a befiting lesson.
    Thus let us stop talking India as super power or india will become least corrupt country. SHAME ON ALL OF US BEING CITIZEN OF SUCH A COUNTRY WHO ARE TOLERATING ALL THESE CORRUPT POLITICIANS BECAUSE MOST OF US ARE SELFISH & CORRUPTER.

  3. Objectivist Mantra Says:

    Dear Mr. Guha, please don’t confuse the entire nation with political, financial and the intellectual elite in the country. People at the top are corrupt, rest are very honest, hardworking and intelligent in their own way.

    Barring the elite that came to power due to our evil system of socialism (which caters only to the rich class), rest of the country is incredibly honest. Majority of Indians (90%) of them do hard labour and earn their livlihood by virtue of their own enterprise.

    Perhaps Mr. Guha needs to come out of his close circle of elite folks, and interact more frequently with the “aam admi” indians. How can he ever know about India, when bulk of his time is spent inside fake TV studios.

    It is also wrong to blame Indians for voting in the same set of corrupt politicians into power. The system of elections that has been imposed on this country is faulty.

    Once we have reforms – economic, electoral and political – then much better set of people will come to power, and Mr. Guha won’t have the reason to sound so pessimistic.

    By the way, this hoopla over superpower is complete nonsense. Who cares if India is a superpower or not! All that the ordinary citizens care about is their right to live with dignity.

  4. twistleton Says:

    Who wants to be a superpower?? :D People take too many things for granted.

    A large part of being one means spending more on defence, willing to put boots on ground in foreign lands for supposedly noble causes (hence ensuring the largest pieces of all the pies the world has to offer) and audacity to carry it all through with a benevolent smile.

    We can wish for more diplomatic skill, but there’s plenty of time for us to cross the learning curve.

    If you can’t play by the rules, change the game. :)

  5. twistleton Says:

    As if a superpower is non-corrupt. That’s high-level corruption, that is. Hmmm, outdone yet again! Damn!

  6. mounaprasad Says:

    Guha should stick to commenting on cricket and desist from writing op-eds on things he does not understand. Who ever told this bozo there is no corruption in the sole super power land.

  7. Murthy Says:

    seeing the article comments here we can say how post 91, MMS has turned the nation’s thinking process.
    junta now terms superpower on basis of money and then materials extracted from slave countries!!

    first of if india is not emerging or rising power where is question of super power.
    in my view its not even a power when viewed with politicos,

  8. Pessimist Says:

    When we give the go-by to meritocracy in government (having forgotten the legacy of Sir Visvesvaraya, Diwan Rangacharlu, Mirza Ismail et al) we are condemned to rule by the tyranny of the numerically superior, who for nearly the last 60 years are enjoying a guaranteed sway.

  9. M Says:

    I’ve been living in US since 2.5 yrs and been following the nature of politics here closely. I notice that corruption in USA is rampant as in India but with some differences. The Federal govt. is on the verge of bankruptcy. Many of the state govts. and municipalities are already bankrupt.

    I live in Seattle and local King County has no money to support the bus service. So they are planning to cut service by 17%. Which means of the two routes nos. that run through my neighborhood, one will be canceled and the other one will have reduced service.

    In US an average middle class person pays about 25-30% of his income as tax. In India, tax for earning Rs 5lakhs or less is about 7% of total income,15% for 10 lakhs and 23% for 20 lakhs. In the US both rich and middle class pay pretty much the same rate.

    In 2010, GE the second largest company in US earned $14 billion in profits of these $5 billion was from within US. But they paid no tax. They employ an army of tax lawyers who produce a 45000 page tax return.

    1.5 million Americans have undeclared off shore accounts. Individual held businesses under-report earning by up to 50%. In US even private oil companies get subsidies.

    In India if you are a destitute you have govt. hospitals that are shabby and inefficient but still render some service. In US the health system is great but you COMPULSORILY need medical insurance. The cheapest ones cost about $400/- a month per person without any preexisting conditions. Considering cost of living equivalence 1$ is only as good as Rs 10/- (though the conversion rate is $1=Rs.43). This means medical insurance in India would be about Rs 4000/- a month per person. For an average middle class American that works at about 6% of his salary.

    My folks in J.P. Nagar, Bangalore pay Rs 250/- for cable network which pretty much includes all the channels in air. In Seattle $25/- get you only the limited version which has less than 5 good channels and the rest are just crap. A full package costs about $100/-

    The US Congress is now trying to cope with the budget deficit by cutting 1)student scholarships, 2) raising age for social security pensions (which the citizens pay by S.S. tax) 3) cutting funding for National Endowments for arts 4) Cutting benefits for retired soldiers etc.etc.etc.

    twistleton above pointed out rightly that superpowers require massive military expenditure. In 2010 US spent $ 608 billion (4.7% GDP) for defense. India spent Rs35 billion (2.8% GDP) on defense. And yes like India everyone in US knows that defense expenditures means billion dollar contracts to private companies.

  10. M Says:

    Forgot to mention the system of lobbying in US. These are law firms in Washington D.C. whose job is to “cajole” US govt. to extend favors for their clients. ALL businesses in US have lobbyists in D.C. Bigger the business, more shadier the business large the lobbying they hire. In fact even Pakistan has hired a lobbying firm in D.C. And that why they get military aid.

    These lobbying firms are legal so corporates can pay them from their general fund. What these firms do with the money is a million dollar question !!!!!!!!!!

  11. ThyapannaShettru Says:

    Superpower!!!!!! I live in Mumbai where 75% of the population shits on public roads, parks, railway tracks and any spot they find in full public view, as our govt, does not have money for public toilets. The public shitters numbers have increased almost two fold in just 10 years. Of course, lot of malls, super luxury buildings are being built but there is no denial that poverty has been increasing

  12. ella okay gaanchali yaake Says:

    “The Republic of India today faces challenges that are as much moral as social or political with the Mumbai blasts having only temporarily shifted off the front pages the corruption scandals that more recent dominated” –
    Going by the comments that Mr. Digvijay Singh makes against the Sangh, should this be inferred as the government was behind the blasts to divert the attention from corruption charges against it?

  13. chriskb Says:

    “Yatha Praja tatha Raja”

    Unless we citizens are honest with ourselves and realize we ourselves are corupt so we elect leaders who are corrupt. What is the point in blaming our leaders, politicians and beauracrats?

    Our caste system, I think, is the primary cause of corruption. How many of us are ready to totally abandon our identities with castes by realizing what a mess India has become because of it?

  14. Ramesh Raghuvanshi Says:

    Mr.Guha is superficial writer he did know the real cause of corruption in India.Hindu religion did not give ten commands just like Christian religion “Thu should not do that or do that”.In Hindu religion good deed don’t minus from bad deed.Hindu religion only commanding to follow ritual of Karma, in which caste you born accept that and obey blindly So .Hindu man afraid to disobey ritual of Karma and never afraid to break the Law.Hindu firmly believed that mundane life is MAYA. why not give and take the bribery in illusionment life

  15. Suneel Sardana Says:

    There are every day news of one or other land scam in one or other state. There is a dire need of transparent law on all india basis which should clearly state that no govt.or their any agency will be permitted to initiate any agriculture land acquisition proceeding except for Roads,Industrial estates,govt.infrastructure projects,railways ,other public utility projects & purposes etc. As regard development of housing colonies, cities,towns, complexex, group housing projects,EW shelters etc.let the developers buy the required private land directly from farmers/owners,develop the same themselves strictly as per norms,rules,laws,specification & terms as laid down by different states or their development agencies.These rules & procedures must be 100% transparent & one need not to approach any breuocrat or politicians to secure/obtain any CLU/Licence etc. All state govt. or their agencies should resell industrial plots after development AT NO PROFIT NO LOSS BASIS.
    By adopting these procedures,we shall be able to get rid of mass corruption in all land deals acquisition scam.All needy will get residential units at reasonable price & all farmers keen to sell their farm land will get right market price. However no politician would be interested for such a law because this is the biggest source of their getting hundreds of crores towards gratification. We need to set our own house in order.If we dont offer or pay bribe,the corruption will disappear.Pl.visit my website http://www.bharatkiawaz.com/ to know as how can we get rid of CORRUPTION,CASTISM,INJUSTICE & FINANCIAL TERRORRISM. 100(sau) me 99 politicians baiman,phir bhi mera bharat mahan.We all are criminals because we elect such baiman army of Netas.
    Long Live India

  16. Curry Hurry Says:

    A cricket historian does not become an Economist.

  17. Jaidev Says:

    For all those people who blame Indian citizens for voting in our corrupt leaders, let me have 5 minutes with you to get something across, which should be blindingly obvious to anyone who cares to look deep at the reality facing you without coloured glasses.

    We Indians do not have much choice. Who are you going to vote in KA? Yeddy or HDK? Show me ONE clean politician or party here. Show me ONE government officer who has not asked for bribes. Show me ONE policeman who is not taking money.

    Second point – we are told to “take action and contest elections” if we are tired of corruption. Ok let’s say I am a very honest and clean guy who wants to become CM. You think I can just walk in and contest elections? Go against the powerful seasoned politicians who have the money and the muscle power to enforce their wishes? It is idealistic and morally right, but practically very naive and stupid because you will 100% lose.

    We also compare our corruption with that in the developed countries. Let me tell you in all my years, I have never had to bribe anyone for a phone line, power connection, property related work, buying or selling a house, or anything else a common man does in the course of his life. I have never been harassed by policemen using the power of their position. I have had ample opportunities to talk directly with my MP and have them follow up with action.

    Guha may be superficial, but he has a point. For a common man in India, all he wants to do is live an honest life and support his family, but that is realistically impossible in India the moment you need to have something done. A democracy is supposed to work for the betterment of all. In India, it is a kakistocracy that works for the betterment of the politicos in power and no one else.

    Maybe I am cynical, but my family comes first. I can’t organise large groups. I am not a political animal. I will fail if I even attempt to take on these problems. So… the only solution was to get out of the country if you can, and move to a better place. This is what I keep recommending to all my young relatives and idealistic friends – wake up and smell the reality before you waste 30 years of your life trying to take on something you can never hope to change. The cancer of corruption is just too deep, spread too wide for anything to be done about it for the next 50-100 years.

    And what about our constitution which protects these criminals? That is a PhD study in itself. No change can come without a complete overhaul of our constitution, our democracy, our system of government and our leaders’ accountability. This will never happen without a great revolution (France, US, now Tunisia and Egypt).

  18. twistleton Says:

    Meanwhile the only superpower around is reeling under a debt crisis.

  19. kavan Says:

    The article by Guha is quoted in bits and pieces, it can hardly do justice to author’s original article. please provide link of his article.

  20. Vikram Says:

    We have managed to survive this long in itself is an achievement.
    In an imaginary situation where US & EU were to open up their country for immigration to all qualified people of India, then more than 30% of those who fulfill this criterion would like to move. We have laws, never applied or applied selectively; further subverted. Democracy derives its legal sanctity only on the basis of a credible election, and not on the basis of a credible choice presented to voters. A few sectors like post, telegraph and banking work without a glitch or taint of corruption. Thats only because the high and the mighty have to use it along with the common man and they do not have a better alternative.

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