ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Corruption and the Poor

In the article, “Anna Hazare, Liberalisation and the Careers of Corruption in Modern India: 1974-2011” (EPW, 16 August 2014), Matthew Jenkins presents a useful historical account of how the discourse on corruption and the movements to counter corruption have evolved in India over the past several decades. However, in his zeal to fight neo-liberal views, he goes on to say that academics havebegun to deny that the state has any obligations to serve the poor. He quotes Samuel Paul and Manubhai Shah from the book by Guhan and Paul on Corruption in India to make his point (p 46).He ignores another sentence from the Paul and Shah essay on the same page that says, “This is not an argument for abolishing all free or subsidised public services”. Nor does he note the evidence given by Paul and Shah that the poor suffer more from corruption than the better-off sections. He does not present any data to show that corruption is not a problem for the poor. He cannot even accept that a citizen plays different roles such as a customer or consumer of services. Nor can he see the state as a service provider! For Jenkins, anyone who says that the present system is diverting benefits from the poor or that other options for service delivery need to be considered is against the state and the interests of the poor. According to him, such views reflect ulterior motives and evil designs of neo-liberals. He, of course, has no alternative to offer. Perhaps, he wants the present system of exploiting the poor to continue. Ideology does trump logic and evidence!    

Samuel Paul

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