As I write this, the Indian Parliament is debating introducing a bill to enact a law for a Lokpal, a super ombudsman position to tackle the major problem of corruption in public life in our country.
We now see emails, FaceBook messages, Twitter messages, phone calls, SMS texts doing the rounds mobilising the country’s people to join a protest led by Anna Hazare who is on hunger fast in Delhi.
I shall write more about the developments in due course on this turning point in India’s history, but want to share something that is very interesting.
I sent this message to my friend in Singapore T, who is an economist and teacher, and a third generation Singaporean of Indian descent.
One of the many mails currently doing the rounds in the Indian net space is this one:
IN 1982, In Singapore, LOKPAL BILL was implemented and 142 Corrupt Ministers & Officers were arrested in one single day.. Today Singapore has only 1% poor people & no taxes are paid by the people to the government, 92% Literacy Rate, Better Medical Facilities, Cheaper Prices, 90% Money is white & Only 1% Unemployment exists..
I am reasonably sure that this must be some joker’s idea of a spanner in the works, but just thought that I should seek your expert opinion!
I received this in response:
I think the arresting got well under way much before that (in fact we put all the communists and radical trade unionists away in one sweep under operation “cold storage”, sometime in 1967 or thereabouts); corruption was rooted out in the very early years of independence (partly because there was little avenue for corruption since we did not have bureaucrats operating a license raj, and partly because of zero tolerance, with the anti corruption agency directly reporting to the PM’s office), our literacy rate is higher than 91%, our unemployment rate is practically zero; as a financial centre, there must be dirty or black money from the many tycoons from Indonesia, China and the region which is parked in Singapore banks — but that money does not become a factor in local corruption, it just allows the tycoons to buy palatial homes for which they will pay taxes; we citizens do pay taxes but at relatively low rates.
You may know that many Indian citizens now live here, easily some several hundred thousands, tons of new Indian restaurants, etc. Of course, K hates Singapore for its perceived authoritarianism, though that never stopped affluent highly educated Indian citizens from applying for permanent residence and citizenship.
K is a mutual friend and is a bit of a maverick. K, T and I have a three way exchange of ideas and try and solve all the problems of the world, particularly that of India. K is about to retire from service and is increasingly looking to spiritualism to see him through the rest of his life! My readers of course know that I am a retired hippy.
The point of this post is to share the success story of Singapore with my readers. I have been to Singapore a number of times and have always felt that it is a wonderful to place to live in. Frankly, T, his lovely wife Anne and a few other friends of mine who have made Singapore their home lead very enviable lives.