Saturday, April 28, 2007

To fight corruption in India

One of the ways of looking at Indian history is as a struggle between the forces of corruption and the forces of cleanliness. The cleanliness of original religion in India was overtaken by the corruption of the priesthood, against which various people tried to rebel, but the Buddha and Mahavira eventually led a successful revolt. However, Buddhism and Jainism themselves developed not only priesthoods (completely against the spirit of the original teachings of the Buddha and of Mahavira) but even corrupt priesthoods, against which people rebelled, turning to the good news of Jesus the Lord in the first century AD. However, our elites responded to the combined challenge posed by the followers of the Buddha, Mahavir and Jesus, by turning against them all, abandoning the original and even the late religion described in the Vedas, and inventing idolatry, caste and all the other institutions included in the so-called "way of life" that went by the name of Hindu practices till, initially Islam, and later but much more significantly Protestant influence began to reform them from the eighteenth century. That is what has resulted in what is called by the Western label of "Hinduism" today - a label, by the way, that was accepted by us Indians only in the nineteenth century.

The resultant fate of India is that we have had religious systems that are themselves corrupt - much as, in the West, the church became corrupt , till it began to be cleaned up by the Protesters, resulting in the split between those who refused to be reformed (Roman Catholics), those who accepted a partial reformation (the mainstream reformation, such as the Lutherans and Presbyterians), and those who wanted to go for a thorough-going cleaning up (such as the Waldensians, Hussites, Amish, Quakers, Mennonites, Baptists, Charismatists or Pentecostals, and so on).

When religion is itself clean, it can be a force to help clean up society, however marginal religion may be in that society. But when religion itself is corrupt, a society has precious few resources with which to combat corruption. In India, we are reliant mainly on modernism and market forces to help clean up the corruption in the country.

The forces of modernism have followed Protestantism in trying to create new institutions, such as Public Interest Litigation and the Right to Information Act to help citizens challenge corruption. These are being used, with varying degrees of effectiveness.

Now the Anti-Corruption Bureau has added one more means of fighting corruption. Citizens are requested to inform the ACB if they know of any Government Officer (however senior or high-ranking) who has spent a large amount on foreign holidays, expensive education, jewellery, vehicles, or properties. It does not matter if the expense was incurred in their own name or in that of their family members. The information can be sent anonymously. This is the simplest and easiest way to curb corruption. The information needed is very brief as explained in

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