‘Consensual’ rape and bribery... the victim is now the villain
By Shankkar Aiyar
13th October 2012 11:35 PM
The lexicon defines consensual as something formed or existing by consent. Rape, as is known, is any act of sexual intercourse that is forced upon. Earlier this week, Dharamveer Goyat, a Congress leader from Haryana, declares that 90 per cent of rape cases are consensual. This, in a country where two rapes are reported every hour and conviction rates are horrific. That he can get away with it—in a party led by a woman, and a country where the Speaker and the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament are women —speaks volumes.
In the same week, the Prime Minister of India informs us that there is such a thing as “consensual bribery” and that this is at the crux of burgeoning corruption. The semantics of political discourse this week would have us believe that the victim is actually a volunteer.
The dictionary defines bribery as the act of accepting or giving a bribe. More importantly, bribery (dating back to 1350-1400, Middle English) owes its etymology to theft. So, pray, how can theft or bribery be consensual? Why would anyone part with money unless it is under duress or is extracted? Can the phenomenon of bribe-fuelled delivery of public services—be it a driving licence or a municipal permit—be defined as consensual bribery? If at all there is consensual bribery, it is in coalition politics, in the negotiation of choice portfolios in return for support, the sharing of spoils dictated by numerical muscle.
Speaking at the 19th Conference of CBI and State Anti-Corruption Bureaux, the PM says, “A clear and unambiguous definition for the term ‘corruption’, covering both the supply and demand sides, is being sought to be provided. Experience has shown that in a vast majority of cases, it is difficult to tackle consensual bribery and the supplier of the bribe goes scot-free by taking recourse to the provisions of the Act. It is, therefore, also proposed to include corporate failure to prevent bribery as a new offence on the supply side.”
Consider the proposition. There is a supply side and a demand side to corruption. However, what the government is focusing on, or will focus, is only on the supply side. What about the demand side? Twenty years after liberalisation, there is no sign of reforms in governance and restructuring of government. Over 15 reports of the Second Administrative Commission and a dozen other reports of various committees have underlined the need for restructuring government. Yet under the regime of Manmohan Singh, no change is visible. Yes, licence raj was dismantled but the case-by-suitcase raj continues. The canals of clearances across the many Bhavans in Lutyens’ Delhi are clogged with discretionary powers that are easily monetised.
After eight years under the watch of Manmohan Singh, India continues to lag in the bottom-half, placed at 132 out of 183 countries in the World Bank rankings on Doing Business. To get a perspective, consider this: India is worse off than Sri Lanka (Rank 89), Serbia (92), strife-torn Lebanon (105), terror-afflicted Pakistan (106), Maoist-dictated Nepal (107), disadvantaged Bangladesh (123), Uganda (124) and Bosnia Herzegovina (125). Even West Bank and Gaza (131) does better. India is ranked 181 in dealing with permits and permissions—only Albania and Eritrea are worse off. On enforcement of contracts it is ranked 182 out of 183 countries, just ahead of Timor Leste.
Consider the pathetic state of the clearance raj. Tourism provides the maximum employment per rupee invested in India yet setting up a hotel can take as many as 90 clearances. Setting up a factory needs 57 clearances and each clearance requires a re-clearance if the owner re-jigs a number, for example upping the total number of labourers from 5,000 to 6,000. Permission raj, clearly, has a lot of connecting gears which need constant greasing.
Every scam witnessed in India is born out of the demand side of corruption—be it 2G, where the power to allocate licence was vested with the government; Coalgate, where allocations of mines were arbitrary; or CWG, where contracts were handed out to cronies—all in return for venture capital to fund the business of politics. In 2004, when the UPA came to power, Transparency International ranked India 90th out of 145 countries in the Corruption Perceptions Index, below Gambia and above Malawi. In 2011, India was ranked 95th out of 182 countries along with Albania, Kiribati, Swaziland and Tonga. Gambia, meanwhile, has moved up to be ranked 77th.
The United Progressive Alliance regime has spun so badly out of control that its spin doctors have inverted the entire paradigm of action and accountability. Everybody is at fault except the government. Inflation is high because government spending is out of control but people are told money doesn’t grow on trees. Corruption has been in headlines for over 36 months, thanks to a series of scams. Now the people are told that it is the act of giving that leads to the act of taking. Cause has been redefined as consequence.
Shankkar Aiyar is the author of Accidental India: A History of the Nation’s Passage through Crisis and Change
- Madrasi heart for Pakistani Madrassa teacher
- Somayagam returns after 48 years
- The Woolwich 'beheading' is straight out of al-Qaeda's terror manual
- Not a drop of Cauvery for people on its banks
- Dalit discrimination 'forms' in colleges
- Marine turtles giving Kerala a miss
- New mango named Nirbhaya after gang-rape victim
- Shortage of essential TB drug heightens risk to patients, others
- CBSE results likely to be out in 4-5 days
- Sushma upset at Modi role, walks out of BJP meet
- Gurunath Meiyappan neither CSK owner nor Team Principal: India Cements
- Chennai Super Kings owner Gurunath Meiyappan arrested
- Now, Delhi police go after eight Kings XI Punjab players
- Madrasi heart for Pakistani Madrassa teacher
- 56,700 Indians face deportation from Saudi Arabia: Khurshid
- Islamic reformation in India