Do you have to be mad to fight corruption in India?

May 12, 2008

The sad story of Kallol Sur caught my eye over the weekend, a local official who apparently hanged himself after blowing the whistle on corruption in India’s flagship National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. A labourer works under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) to build a dirt road at Sheikhpur in India’s poorest state of Bihar January 22, 2008. REUTERS/Desmond Boylan

According to The Sunday Express , Sur, a block development officer — a local bureaucrat — in the eastern state of West Bengal, complained of “immense political pressure” after exposing graft in the scheme.

Sur had apparently first uncovered corruption by officials from the ruling Communist Party (Marxist), and then by others from the opposition Trinamool Congress.

Sur’s father alleges that his son’s body was “hurriedly cremated” and never handed over to him.

One of the men who Sur had accused said the official was “clearly mad”, the Express reported. The local police superintendent said Sur was suffering from schizophrenia.

I have no way of knowing the truth behind Sur’s death, and don’t want to accuse anyone of dirty tricks. But I hope the state government conducts a proper investigation into the corruption allegations.

And remember too, this would not be first time whistle blowers have come under immense pressure, or met sudden death. Remember Satyendra Dubey, shot dead after exposing corruption in the building of India’s National Highways? Or Shanmughan Manjunath of the Indian Oil Corporation, shot dead after closing two petrol stations which he found to be selling adulterated fuel?

In the aftermath of Sur’s death, I was wondering: as a bureaucrat in India, do you have to be mad to expose the corruption going on around you?


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bureaucrats create the same kind of pressure on the common man if he exposes corruption in bureaucracy.Try complaining about something to the muncipality and you will have a host of departments at your doorstep trying to make your life miserable and protecting thier fellow bureaucrat this exist in all government departments from local muncipality to the state and to the center beleive me there is no alternative so it is better to grin and bear it. So not only as a bureaucrat you would be MAD to expose Corruption Period

Posted by super | Report as abusive

I am very sorry to say that it’s impossible to stop corruption in India until Indians go for World War 3. Indians are used to bribe system in their daily life. Government should publish the latest revised bribe rate. People don’t need to negotiate with the government’s servants if there is a published bribe catalogue by Indian government. Government should authorize the bribe and other corruption in India. It will help to many honest people of India and foreigners.

It’s very funny all most all Indian’s NGOs, universities and hospitals are looking for the foreign aid and Indian government is wasting its money on missile and nuclear program.

Posted by AY | Report as abusive

starkin Mad I’d say fer sure. get by while you can

Posted by Anup Thomas | Report as abusive


Do you have to be mad to fight corruption in India? article of Mr.Simon Denyer is exactly correct.
I have my own experience on this. I have worked in an Govt. Instn. where as Official in-charge, I have to process acquiring of TDV/Ship costing several hundred crores of rupees. Not satisfied the way of tendering, I resigned and preferred complaint to Central Vigilance Commission who registered the complaint under CVC Ref:611/05/10. Any one can obtain copies of my complaint from CVC (quoting their Ref:611/05/10) under Right to Information Act.

After filing complaint I have run for safety to a protected area.

Initially CVC web site stated that “Administrative action taken” , subsequently CVC web site updated stating “Commission advised closure of the case”.

no person with sound mind/sense can fight against corruption.

Posted by swaminathan pattabhiraman | Report as abusive

You probably don’t have to be crazy to be a whistleblower in India, but may still have to be a hopeless believer that all is not bad. And more than anything, it is that hope which needs to be protected.
Our country still doesn’t have a policy on protection of such people. But the question is whether a policy just for the government would work or whether it should cover the corporate sector as well. My sense tells me (correct me, if I am wrong) that it should be for both, because more often than not, it is collusion between the government and the private sector that leads to such frauds and therefore, the need.
A policy for whistleblowers may also be innately cynical but we all know better than that, don’t we. If not for us, then just the hope.

Posted by otherwise | Report as abusive

Corruption, in India or anywhere in the world, I would say is a gap between demand and supply. As long as there is a requirement of a comodity or a service and short in supply, people would want to break the queue.
one should not expect ethics to run a country, it has never, if everyone has an ecnomical reason to choose a career, why not a politician. but, we as citizens, sneer at the very thought of politicians making money. well if he is not going to make money in legal ways, he is going to make it illegal way. and worse off, he will enact policies that makes you corrupt too.
i see nothing wrong in paying some extra money to get a seat ahead of you, i value that position more than you and i am willing to pay for it. i am willing to pay for not going to jail, as i value my freedom.
relate everything to economics and profits, corruption will die a death.

Posted by rajesh | Report as abusive

There is nothing we can do about corruption as it is all interlinked and we are just a small part of it. Take an example of a traffic cop, he will instigate you to bribe him irrespective of whether you have all the valid documents or not by harassing you. Everyone out here knows that if he has stopped you means that he wont leave you until he has emptied some cash from your wallet. And personally i dont think he is at fault coz he must have bribed someone to get that job and trying to recover his investment, and that person must have bribed someone else…. and it goes on…… One man can make no difference in India atleast.

Posted by Karishma | Report as abusive

To fight corruption tactlessly is dangerous idea. but if you have time and patience and nag for details it is not unachievable. rule number one never do it alone like hindi movies. create some organization against corruption give it a name and enroll member with small amount of membership fee. announce the creation of organization and contact media person frequently. attend political meetings and show your presence at important functions. Listen patently to all and be aware of good cop bad cop game. Do not hit every one on your way but make a target and never leave that corrupt person till pronounced guilty. Do some social work like blood donation camp or cold water distribution (chabil) on important functions. write daily diary about important conversations and last be honest on first place. Be persistent and keep sending reminder till case is finished no body act until they know you are serious to fight till end. my personal experience is corrupt public servants are coward and bow to your feet when they know whom they are dealing with.

Posted by dave | Report as abusive