The struggle against India’s notorious corruption received a kick-start in Delhi at the end of December with the electoral victory of the Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party in local state elections. Completely unexpectedly, the AAP received 30 percent of the votes and, although this was a bit less than the main opposition BJP received, the Congress Party allied with AAP to enable the latter to form the Delhi administration and appoint its leader, Arvind Kejriwal, as Delhi’s new Chief Minister.
The AAP’s basic programme is to rid India of corruption. Within a week of taking the helm, three Delhi officials who had been filmed by television reporters taking bribes were summarily suspended.
Kejriwal has over the last 15 years been campaigning against corruption and the extravagant lifestyles of elected politicians. His victory has reignited hope that it will be possible to dismantle the bureaucratic red tape that only bribery can disentangle in order to bring conditions for doing business in India into line with what is expected in the modern world.
The AAP is intending to stand candidates in most constituencies in the next parliamentary elections, most likely in May this year.
Corruption, however, is deeply embedded in every corner of the Indian state system. This was shown by the facts surrounding another high-profile rape case that occurred in Kolkata (Calcutta) a couple of months ago.
A 16-year-old girl, the daughter of a taxi driver, was twice gang-raped by the same six men – the second time as a ‘punishment’ for her having reported the first rape to the police. Following this, the six men were left at large and continuously threatened the family, including making death threats against the girl’s father, yet no move was made to arrest or charge them.
Finally, towards the end of December, two of the the gang broke into her home while she was there alone and set fire to her, as a result of which she died.
The rapists were from relatively well-off families linked to West Bengal’s ruling party, the Trinamool (Grassroots) Congress, and as a result both the local government and the police acted to protect them. One can only hope that as a result of all the publicity the case has now received this immunity will now come to an end – for this particular group of criminals, at least.
Embedded corruption ensures that the majority of rapists in India can get away with it since they can always buy their way out of trouble – provided, of course, that their victim is poor. Despite all the horror of the Delhi rape case a year ago and the death sentences meted out to the perpetrators of the victim’s dastardly murder, reported rape cases in Delhi have not decreased but have, on the contrary, actually doubled!
On 1 November 2013, Dean Nelson of the Daily Telegraph reported that “According to new government figures there have been 1,330 rapes in Delhi in the 10 months since January compared with 706 for the whole of 2012.”
It is no wonder that the ‘common man’ of India yearns for freedom from corruption, but it remains to be seen how much can actually be achieved without proletarian revolution, since capitalism always and everywhere breeds corruption and no country with a capitalist economy is free of it.