South Asian Sun­shine

Ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion laws, it is said, is in­versely pro­por­tion­ate to grubby, graft-tak­ing of­fi­cials. How does this ap­ply to South Asia?

Southasia - - CONTENTS - By Asad Rahim Khan

Be­fore Trans­parency In­ter­na­tional quan­ti­fied the prob­lem with facts and stats, Anna Hazare was asked the same ques­tion: what was the root cause of cor­rup­tion? Mr. Hazare, aus­tere and as­cetic, re­flected, “The root cause of cor­rup­tion is self­ish­ness; the self­ish na­ture of hu­man be­ings. They go to any lengths to pur­sue their self-in­ter­est.”

In a way, Anna Hazare summed up the wan­ton­ness of hu­man na­ture, and Trans­parency In­ter­na­tional as­sessed the dam­age. Ber­lin’s TI barged in and took names, and the con­clu­sions are damn­ing. For a place so ob­sessed with con­demn­ing cor­rup­tion, there’s cer­tainly a lot go­ing around South Asia – hot and hap­pen­ing South Asia – is now as fa­mous for its cor­rup­tion as it is for its cui­sine.

It doesn’t bode well for the world, of course, that its most pop­u­lous area be its most crooked, but Trans­parency In­ter­na­tional makes its case with care.

The key find­ings are con­vinc­ing: that ‘cit­i­zens find them­selves un­able to ac­cess key in­for­ma­tion on how their gov­ern­ments are per­form­ing in or­der to hold them to ac­count; that the lack of mean­ing­ful pro­tec­tion for whistle­blow­ers means that the chances of de­tect­ing wrong­do­ing by those in po­si­tions of power are slim; and that wide­spread po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence in the crit­i­cal work of anti-cor­rup­tion agen­cies and the ju­di­ciary makes them in­ef­fec­tive in keep­ing a check

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