India Uncut

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Friday, May 06, 2005

The sting in the third-world country

Dipankar Gupta, the sociologist, writes about sting operations:
[T]he delight with which these exposes are greeted in India is because of the low levels of institutionalisation in this country. As individuals we feel humiliated, slighted and taken advantage of by those who are more powerful than us, but there is no institutional redress against all of this. That we do not push for it either in a systematic way is because we too benefit from it when it comes to dealing with those who are weaker than us. More to the point: when institutions that are supposed to catch corrupt people look the other way and somebody else steps in to the breach and exposes them, there is a general sense of satisfaction at the popular level. Exposures thus gain enormously in esteem when public officials are sitting on their hands while the rich and famous engage in blatant acts of corruption and impropriety. Nobody at that point wants to scrutinise the methods by which these exposes against those at the top were conducted.

In other words, Gupta concludes: "It is the failure of public institutions that make exposes of the variety that Tehelka has spawned so attractive at the popular level," and "journalists have to aspire to higher levels of professionalism in western democracies". Read the full piece.
amit varma, 4:25 PM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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