Gaurav Prateek reviews Anang Pal Malik’s book Corruption In India:
Have just finished reading Anang Pal Malik’s book “Corruption in India”, and I must say it makes a depressing read, simply because of the subject it tackles. What is surprising is that it has taken seven decades after independence for such a seminal work to arrive. May be it is better that it has arrived now, because it has been able to vividly capture the horrors that socialism has wrought in our country in all these decades since 15 August 1947, as the single biggest cause of corruption in India.
Must make the disclosure that I read the self published copy of the book. A few months ago when I went to my Amazon account looking for this book, I found to my astonishment that it was not there. Thankfully it has been published now and is indeed available on Amazon. I plan to popularize it among my folks, and request all of you to do likewise. Why? Because it has to be a compulsory read for each one of us who loves our country and our civilization, and wants it to achieve its fullest potential.
Interspersed with sometimes stunning but always perspicacious analyses and engaging anecdotes, the book makes a detailed documentation of different types of corruption, giving a list, a la Fortune 500 of the biggest money spinners among the departments in India. It details the extent, causes and consequences of corruption, before moving on to the solutions to this seemingly intractable problem. The primary solution is simple, yet elegant – the separation of the government from the economy. Therein lies the rub, though.
Given that this rakta-beej of corruption feeds on and is fed by this labyrinthine maze of politicians-bureaucrats-police-judicial system-local governments-systems of health & education-the mafiosi and criminals, all supported and shielded willy-nilly by us, the ordinary citizens, the path to the solutions proffered by Mr Malik is long and tortuous. Also, given our federal structure, supposing the central government becomes a willing implementer of these solutions, it will be really tough to get many of the states to come on board, especially the ones with political parties battening themselves on their vote banks.
Also, given that the fundamental character of the constitution was changed during the emergency years to introduce the term ‘socialist’ in it, it would take a humongous effort to remove it. Again, it would not be easy, as the author suggests, to morally re-engineer ourselves, to develop a sense of zero tolerance towards corruption in our personal and social lives. All requiring nothing less than Bhageerath-prayatna, a gradual chipping away, over a long period of time. Very, very difficult indeed, but not impossible.
Interestingly, just because we have a government today that is bereft of large scale corruption, and is carrying out work with systemic portents, like the transparent auctioning of mines, the UDAY scheme or the electrification of villages, one can see that some of the issues that this book refers to are already being addressed.
Yet it can also be seen that all this wonderful work of the current executive can be reduced to a naught if the next government would rather go back to the business as usual, or if the work of the current government continues to be sabotaged or slowed down by those who can. Clearly, for permanent changes, and to save ourselves from eventual collapse, we need to seriously consider freeing ourselves from the clutches of socialism, as also the tendency, cultivated over time, of cutting corners – individually and collectively.
I would hope the typos and errors in the self published version that I noticed, and that the author honestly alludes to in the afterword, would have been taken care of in the now published version. If not, I am happy to present my services to copy edit, should that be necessary.
Would like to congratulate Anang Pal ji – this piece of work is indeed a triumph – and one that should make all of us proud. You are an oracle, and we should listen to you carefully.
Happy Independence Day to all of you!
(The review first appeared on Facebook-Ed.)