Corruption: Siphoning Off Growth

Stories of corruption in India have filled the news in recent days. First there’s the corrupt Communications and Information Technology Minister, whose scam to pocket money from telecommunications firms may have topped $37 billion. Then there were accusations that politicians, officials, and contractors had pocketed more than 70% of $2.5 billion meant for flood relief in the state of Assam. There are the officials arrested for corruption in the planning for the Commonwealth Games and there reports that businesses over the last six decades have made billions through tax evasion and corruption.

The barrage of news stories is simply bringing to light an ongoing, rampant problem, which is holding India back from its economic potential. And these stories only scratch the surface.

Corruption may have instigated a recent uproar over microcredit in India, in which politicians encouraged borrowers not to pay back their loans.

Corruption also affects education in India.  Twenty-five percent of teachers in India don’t bother showing up for work, and of those that do show up, only 50% actually teach while they are there. Why, one might ask? Because as government employees, they cannot be fired. In fact, only 1 out of every 3,000 head teachers has ever fired a teacher for absenteeism. Government employees are receiving a paycheck without having to supply any work, and as such are robbing Indian families not only of education for their children, but also of their tax dollars.

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If India has any hopes of continuing its recent economic growth and moving much of its population out of poverty, it must take real steps towards fighting corruption. Otherwise its economic gains will continue to be siphoned off, and eventually will dry up.

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