India Insight

Mayawati’s public display of wealth or affection?

MayawatiGarlands of flowers have been a standard greeting for politicians in India. Ceremonies and inaugurations with a political leader as chief guest mean more prosperity to florists than anyone else.

Most of these garlands get swept aside or badly crushed. But not the one recently presented to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati.

The several metres long garland made up of 1,000 rupee notes is now garnering scrutiny from Income Tax sleuths of the country.

Mayawati’s detractors strongly believe that this wanton display of wealth by her party subverts the tenets of the Indian Constitution.

What further stokes the anger of critics is the Uttar Pradesh government’s incapacity to look after victims of a tragedy while continuing to spend large sums of money on towering statues and party functions.

Bihar: after the “Jungle Raj”

“The state government is trying to establish the rule of law…however so mighty someone may be, without any discrimination, whatever their clout is, they will still be put on trial.” 

This is what Neelmani, a senior police officer in Bihar, told me in a recent interview.

He said the “Jungle Raj”, which gave the state a reputation for corruption, kidnappings and crime, is coming to an end.

from Global News Journal:

Giving in to Ali Baba

I once paid a cop 30 ringgit (about $10 then) for making an apparently illegal left-hand turn in Kuala Lumpur. Scores of drivers in front of me were also handing over their "instant fines", discreetly enclosed within the policeman's ticketing folder. It was days ahead of a major holiday and the cops were collecting their holiday bonus from the public.

Malaysia opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim holds a disc he says contains evidence of judge-fixing in Malaysia 

I felt bad about this, of course. What I was doing was illegal, immoral and perpetuating an insidious culture that goes by many names in the East -- "baksheesh" in India, "Ali Baba" (and his 40 thieves) in Malaysia, "swap" in Indonesia (means "to feed").  But the policeman pointed out I would have to take off the good part of a day to go to court and pay 10 times as much to the judge. So I rationalised: "When in Rome..."

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