Why So Much Corruption In India?

Have you ever tried to find an answer to this question? How come that we are forced to pay bribes or approach a middle-man to get our basic government documents like a driving license or passport made? How come in Canada or US one does not have to pay a bribe for such documentation? How come these basic documents are provided to you with one visit to the office concerned in Canada or US? Why is that despite having all the necessary documents and qualifications, you still have to make many a rounds to the offices to get the job done?


Our political/ social/ religious leaders always blame it on the enormity of Indian population.   Anyone with knowledge of automated computerised systems knows that if one person’s documents can be done, then a million of such documents can also be done. It appears that no one wants to correct the system. The politician fears the loss of his vote bank and all other leaders fear the loss of money the corrupt system brings.

What makes the officials corrupt? The salary the government officials receive anywhere in the world is pretty high compared to the common-man’s standard of living in that country. Salaries (and pension) paid are adequate enough to maintain a decent standard of living for a family and does cater for all the basic essentials of food, housing, education etc. Then why is the greed or need for the extra money?

Let us examine a person’s life in both India and North America and analyse as to what are the causes for less corruption in North America.

A child goes to school and that’s where they are trained to be valuable citizens. Most important role in this training is played by the teachers in developing the mind-set of these children and they imbibe good values from them. The teachers’ selection and appointment in North America has its own high standards where as in India we are all well aware of the hefty bribes paid to get the post. In most of the private schools, mostly run by the religious institutions, they sign for a monthly salary of few thousands and take home actually a fourth of it. Here merit and teaching ability are of least concern and only their paying capacity is considered. How can you ever expect such teachers to develop a good value system in their students?

In North American society, children after their high-school education tend to look after themselves and graduate by taking loans and/or doing part-time jobs. In India,  parents cater for all these needs and it continues even after their children marry. Donation/ capitation fees/ normal fees for medical and engineering graduation are pretty high in India and everyone wants their children to be either an engineer or a doctor. When I retired after 25 years of service in 2004, my total pension emoluments was about Rs 30 Lakh (3 Million) and that was the amount needed in case our daughter was to take up medical education in a private medical college at that time anywhere in India. This clearly shows that most of the parents of such students have resorted to some illegal method of getting extra money, either by corrupt practices while serving or have evaded taxes and duties while selling their properties by under-valuation etc. Everyone connected with these professional education institutions – the political leadership, the administration, the courts etc are all well aware of this reality.

Why can’t it be made mandatory for all those parents seeking admissions for their children in these medical and engineering colleges to prove their sources of income? It will never come through as most of these institutions are owned by either the political leaders or by religious groups. Neither the politician nor the God can be made uncomfortable by passing such laws. The politicians do not want to mess up with their vote banks and never antagonise the Gods.

After graduation, everyone looks to get a government job and there too a lot of money changes hand in many places. In some cases it is either recommendation or money and in many cases it’s the merit. Where is this money coming from and where is it being used? Could be to pay for someone’s medical or engineering admission and the cycle continues. The only way out is to make the selection and appointment of all government post as transparent as possible. Only problem is that the looser is still either the politician or the God. So that can never be expected.

Now comes the costliest of all events – marriage. In North America, the bride and the groom have to arrange for their marriage expenses and sometimes parents chip in. The amount of money the bride’s parents in India spend is well known, may be to make up for the money spent on the groom’s education, may be to finance the groom’s higher education, may be to finance the education of the groom’s siblings – possibilities are endless. Still the money gets back into the same system and the cycle continues. Legislation and enforcement can control this menace to a limited scale only. Despite enactment of the Anti-Dowry laws, ill gotten money still changes hands and the Gods also seem to be enjoying it.

Next comes housing – everyone seem to be building houses bigger than their neighbour’s. It is never based on family needs, but in many cases only as a status symbol to show-off one’s mostly ill-gotten wealth. In North America, old parents down-size and move to smaller homes, or to a gated community, or to an old age home once their children move out for education or jobs. In India it is always up-sizing, even when one is on his death bed. Only social awareness can eliminate this problem.

Now comes the ultimate – to get even with the Gods who has to forgive and remit all sins in getting this wealth.  Huge offerings are made in the God’s houses to please Him. Most of the offerings are of no use to humanity like golden crowns, golden crosses studded  with diamonds, chariots, elephants and even one’s hair. It is not understood as to which God is going to be pleased with these offerings. In North America, most old people donate all their wealth or part of it to charities, which could help the humanity and may be the Gods will always be better pleased with them.

12 thoughts on “Why So Much Corruption In India?

  1. An excellent article bringing out real corrupt system prevailing in every walk of life in India. I wonder if any Govt or law can change the system or eliminate this rot from this country ever. As Col Reji has brought out, imbibing moral values and awareness about this menace from early school life of a child may be able to make some changes in due course. Col Reji may make some research on the worst menace happening in every state of India “RAPE”.

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  2. Lucid & very relevant. Could not resist ‘cut-paste’ of a response of mine, to an Article, of couple of years ago
    “Dear Sir,
    a) Most of the ‘intelligent and accomplished’ people whose views you have included in your article of the day are people who have been in a working career for over 2-3 decades. I firmly believe they (like me) have been part of the problem. I would recommend you reach out to 30 minus India, if you really want to change things.
    b) Corruption is not a ‘devil’ hiding in the jungle and we want a mountain of legislation/regulation and a strong army to hunt it down, once for all!! Corruption is a part of each one of us and that is where we can and we must focus, if we truly wish to eradicate it.
    c) As I wrote in my blog on 26 Jan 2011, I would like to ‘corrupt corruption’ by formally teaching ‘corruption’ in Schools/colleges…what is corruption, how does it begin, why does it persist, statistical illustrations of societies which were corrupt and have now become cleaner and comparison of state of well being there with state of corruption, etc.
    Wishing each one of us the insight and the courage to be able to look inward and resolve to be ‘clean’….”

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  3. Nice article which points to what India ought to head for if it chooses to reform. Much change is happening world wide including in Eastern cultures, so saying what you wrote about is merely a western construct would be incorrect. I think what does need emphasis is accepting that we have reached the rock bottom. Once leadership accepts that, change will follow. There is a lot of bull about acche din but as the days pass, people are wondering whether it is really old wine in new bottles… Worth reading. Raj 


  4. As always a logical assessment based on experiences… Though the issue is quite a complex mesh and can’t be pinpointed to only a few issues alone… Hope someday you pen down your views on how ethos and ethic values of our “Great” culture has reached this low!!!

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  5. Good one Cheta. It is right time to think and do something to change the system. After 1989 this is the first time a government is formed by a single party, this is the right time to change the constitution accordingly and move in the right direction. To change all systems it might take some time, but it has to start now.

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  6. Corruption appears to have been legalized in India. People, by and large, are quite used to that way of living. They do not feel that it’s illegal or untoward. Despite the distinctions one gets in a qualifying examination, he/she is prepared to shell out an amount the market demands in order to get a job. Then what’s the point in studying hard to get a good grade?

    ”Corruption is twice blesseth, the him that takes and the him that gives!” (Apologies to Shakespeare for distorting his ‘Mercy’ with ‘Corruption’)
    We stand apart to get noticed, be it corruption, controversy or false pride!
    Great read, Col. Reji.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Corruption is in our DNA. A major surgical operation is required since religion has failed us and rather has helped it into making it a vicious circle!.
    No solution in sight!
    Keep it up Col Reji

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Col Reji has written this excellent write-up on things which ail our society in India. Parents want to do their best for children, to such a great extent that they would give up everything for their future – education, clothing, marriage and dowry. The list is endless.
    Expectations of parents that their children will look after them in old age is one of the reasons cited. Educated lot just do the required minimum and then leave their children encouraging them, yet not spoon-feeding.
    Thanks Reji, you have got me thinking.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Reji has hit the nail squarely on its head with a bang. Basically our priorities are incorrect. Total system is thriving on corruption. Or should we call it goodwill. Teachers & Farmers must be highly paid. No other profession in the country must get paid more than them. Religious & Political netas have failed our society which is a total mess now going from bad to worse.

    Liked by 1 person

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