Asato ma sat gamaya
Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya
Mrityur ma amritam gamaya
Lead me from illusion to the Truth
Lead me from darkness to Light
Lead me from death to Immortality
from the Brihadaranya Upanishad.
Money is fungible.
If I give money to my neighbor to help out with his grocery purchases, I may be acting out of good neighborly feelings. But what if he is an alcoholic? By giving him money, I could as well be funding his alcohol purchase. Even if I were to buy groceries and have them delivered to his home, I am again freeing up his own money for booze. Worse yet, what if my neighbor actually builds bombs in his basement which he frequently lobs over the fence and destroys parts of my house? Surely, giving him grocery money out of misplaced pity is the same as my paying him for his bombs which he uses against me.
Just a few weeks ago, we learnt that the KGB poured cash into the pockets Indian communist leaders and handsomely bribed the leaders of the Congress Party which was then under the control of Indira Gandhi. This past week we learn from UN sponsored investigation that Natwar Singh and the same Congress Party led by Sonia Gandhi has been bribed rather handsomely by the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussain.
Is the Congress Party corrupt? It is like asking, is the Pope Catholic? Or asking, is Bill Gates rich? Or the more earthy question, does a bear shit in the woods?
The corruption of the Congress Party is not a new thing, however. In 1938, Sri Aurobindo wrote:
All this [referring to certain dishonest financial practices] promises a bad look-out when India gets purna Swaraj [full independence]. Mahatma Gandhi is having bad qualms about Congress corruption already.
Power corrupts, as Lord Acton famously observed, and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely. It is a nice aphorism but in India’s case, it is the corrupt that get power and the absolutely corrupt get absolute power.
I think that people seek political power in India fundamentally because it allows them to gain personally by corrupt means. The politicians are best placed to engage in corrupt practices because the economy is a command and control economy. So it is not that they become powerful and therefore later become corrupt. It is the other way around. It is the already morally and ethically bankrupt that seek power and attain it because they are corrupt. The honest and the good don’t have what it takes to reach the pinnacle of political power. They cannot compete with the criminal class from which the politicians rise to the top of the heap.