By smaller problem, I mean the problem of operational corruption. In case you don’t understand this terminology from my book, it’s the corruption in the operations: black money, hidden money, whatever you want to call it. Essentially, it’s shady financial activity which governments acknowledge as illegal.
Realize that Modi’s new notes provide only temporary relief from operational corruption. Although the new notes are stone-gray and magenta, there are experts who can turn them into black. It’s just a matter of time before fake-note printing presses and tax evaders catch up. In other words, the new 500 and 2000 rupee notes will eventually be abused in the same way as the old notes.
But forget operational corruption; efficient administrators like Modi can handle it from time to time.
I want to talk about the bigger problem which nobody wants to talk about: primitive corruption. This is the corruption built into the system. It’s the abuse of public power for private gain that happens even when there is no black money, no hidden money, no illegal financial activity whatsoever.
One example of this is the idea that a government sitting in New Delhi, made up of people 95 out of 100 of whom don’t speak our language (Kannada) can legally take away our money by taxing us, write laws for us, and so on and so forth.
Why is this corruption? Well, refer to the definition of corruption and open your eyes and see India’s diversity.
Corruption is defined as abuse of public power for private gain. While most people think of individuals when they hear this, I like to use this definition to talk about groups.
One specific group walks away with private gain by abusing the government of India’s power: Upper-caste Hindi speaking North Indians.
This group controls the government of India and most of the nation’s commerce after having rendered every other group powerless at a time when nobody was looking: during this nation’s inception. It has the audacity to reduce every Indian language other than Hindi to worse than footnotes on banknotes – an audacity which has been amplified in the new notes released by RBI yesterday.
If this group has its way, India’s diversity will be wiped out with the same efficiency with which the old 500 and 1000 rupee notes were wiped off in a nation with 1.3 billion people. Overnight. They have the legal sanction to do this.
The Modis of India can’t solve this, the bigger problem. They don’t want to. It’s the solution they are aiming at by removing stumbling blocks such as black money.