Nation of Beancounters

My two cents about the economics of the Ashis Nandy thing

Posted in Uncategorized by Navin Kumar on January 31, 2013

Sociologist Asish Nandy claims that what he meant by the statement “corrupt people come from Other Backward Classes, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes” is that “most of the people getting caught for corruption are people from OBC, SC and ST communities, as they don’t have the means to save themselves unlike people from upper castes”.

In the spirit of charity, I’m willing to take his word for it. But there’s a certain amount of confusion embedded in this discussion.

The upside of being a corrupt bureaucrat/politician is that you can make a lot of money. The downside is that you might be caught and persecuted, with all the disrepute that comes with it. Both lower caste and upper caste bureaucrats enjoy the same benefits. On the other hand, if Nandy’s second statement is true, lower caste bureaucrats face higher costs, which makes them less likely to take a bribe, i.e. be less corrupt. So Dalits would be among the least corrupt, even though they get apprehended more often.

Of course, the confusion can be clarified if Nandy took “corrupt” to mean “people who get caught taking bribes” rather than “people who take bribes.”

A less charitable look at the statement, as well as the furor that followed, can be found here.

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