Leitmotif

Reason as the Leading Motive

India: A Deplorable Embarrassment

Posted by Jerry on October 6, 2006

Lest people think that my disgust for India is an exaggerated, overblown, expression of resentment not warranted by this “democratic” country of sorts:

In one year alone (1997), 200 prisoners–the highest in the country–were tortured and killed in custody by the Mumbai city police. Most of the people arrested never get a trial in courts because the courts are mired in the largest backlog of cases in the world. Each judge has around 3000 pending cases. The country’s justice system has a 4% conviction rate on criminal trials.
Some torture tactics used by the Mumbai city police: electrocuting a man’s genitals, pouring acid down a his anus, extracting nails from a man’s fingers and sprinkling salt on the fleshbed, force-feeding a kilo of sweets into a man’s throat and then depriving him of water.

The criminal justice system has totally collapsed, with corruption, bribery, blackmail, favors, extortion, etc. functioning at all levels and all branches of the justice, legal, and political system.

“In business, so entrenched has extortion [by the underworld gangsters] become that the Bombay High Court recently ruled that extortion payments are tax deductible as a legitimate business expense.

“In 1979, the Government of India removed the right to property as a ‘fundamental right’ from the constitution, along with the right to be compensated when the state expropriates property.” The right to one’s property still remains non-existant in the more than 300 pages of the Indian constitution.

Mumbai has passed a Rent Act, which is in essence “an institutionalized expropriation of private property.” What this means is that if a tenant has lived in a rented property for at least a year, he can continue living there for the rest of life, pass it on to his children and “defy the lawful proprietor’s efforts to get [the tenant’s] ass off his property.” And what’s more, the Mumbai legal system stands in support of the tenant’s “right” to continue living there.

After the Rent Act was passed, a large number of beleaguered landlords had to bribe their tenants to vacate the rented property. This practice–once a criminal offense–“is so prevalent that in 1999 the state was forced to legalize it.”

“The city is full of people claiming what’s not theirs. Slum dwellers demand water and power connections for [their] illegal constructions on public land.” If they don’t get it from the government, they steal it from the people who lawfully pay for these utilities. “Moviegoers demand that the government freeze ticket prizes. The Indian government has long believed in the unreality of supply and demand; what you pay for an item, for a food or for a service, has no relation to what it costs the producer.”

The lack of civil decency among Indians is so intrinsic that the cleanliness and sanitation situation (or the lack thereof) has reached the status of a crisis: representatives from the World Bank had to be flown in to assess the sanitation crisis and provide solutions. They proposed the absurd idea of building 100,000 toilets around the city. This would only compound the problem manifold because the toilet pits would be clogged and people would merely defecate all over and around the toilet pits without any concern. Indians spit, defecate, and urinate as they please anywhere in public. This problem is at its worst in the most crowded city in India–Mumbai.

The government is unable to make Mumbai a better city to live in. But they are very good at changing names to suit their jingoistic passions; for example, Bombay to Mumbai, Calcutta to Kolkata, Madras to Chennai. “[Mumbai] is in the grip of mass renaming frenzy. Over fifty road-renaming proposals are put before the municipal corporation each month. In a span of less than a year between ’96 and ’97, the government approved 123 renaming proposals.

And these issues have not even scratched the surface of what life in India–and Mumbai–really is like. There are some positive sides I’m sure, though none of them pop into my head right now to list them here. Thus, while I’m all for working toward a rational society as a part of my pursuit of happiness, in the case of India, I’d rather just get out of the country as quickly as possible.

[All the information given above, pertaining to India and Mumbai (including quoted material), was gathered from Suketu Mehta’s “Maximum City: Bombay lost & found. Emphases in bold and italics are mine.”]

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5 Responses to “India: A Deplorable Embarrassment”

  1. Hiren said

    Yesterday in the Times of India, India was reported to be the most corrupt nation in the world. This was in the headlines. One is used to all this. What’s bew?

  2. Deep said

    Useful pieces of information here. Thanks. Newspapers and magazines do inform us of such events, as and when they happen. But none of then do a round-up as you did. The public’s memory is weak, and indeed very pragmatic!

  3. OMG….I am soo dumb! I was reading the post by Hiren and when I came across the word “bew” I was like…what does that word mean? I even looked it up in the dictionary and when I couldn’t find it I then thought to myself….maybe he meant new!! LOL

  4. Ergo said

    At this very instant, the Visitor Count on my blog reads: 9999. I find it amusingly strange! I wonder who the 10,000th visitor will be. Hmmmm..

    And “Deep” thank you, and you’re welcome. 🙂

  5. Tyrel said

    Russia, India, China worst countries for bribery
    Anti-corruption advocates Wednesday called on the governments of India, China and Russia to do more to stop their multinational companies from bribing when doing business abroad.

    http://msnbc.msn.com/id/15131460/from/ET/

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