In one of the many panel discussions Indian TV networks conducted at Davos, Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram said less than half the money meant for building roads in India was actually used for what it was meant to be. The rest of it leaked away through the famed cracks of our corrupt delivery mechanism.
Nobody is likely to be surprised at those numbers. But, when a senior Congress politician like Chidambaram, who was also finance minister, complains about these numbers, we can hardly be grateful for the frankness. The Congress Party has ruled India for much of the country’s existence and there’s less and less sympathy each time a Congress politician throws up their hands at our decaying administration or the loopholes in our governance.
The Congress Party doesn’t seem to have realized this though. A recent ‘article’ by Congress President Sonia Gandhi in a leading business newspaper's ongoing special series on philanthropy offered moments that would make one laugh out loud if it weren't so tragic.
In the article, Gandhi says: ‘Some 40 percent of Indians still live below the poverty line; 93 million live in slums; 128 million do not have access to clean water; and over seven million children are still excluded from education. The statistics for malnutrition among children, and for maternal deaths, remain equally distressing.’
By writing this, is Sonia Gandhi laying out the task forus? Are we to blame for our sorry lot? Nobody can claim that solving India's problems are easy, or that they won't take time. But when a party that has defined much of our polity over the last 60 years behaves as if it's a problem they’ve just been saddled with, well that's truly distressing.