Book Review: Why Scams Are Here To Stay by N. Ram

Book Name: Why Scams Are Here To Stay

Author’s Name: N. Ram

Publisher: Aleph

Rating: 5/5

Book Blurb: Corruption in India today is pervasive, omnipresent and diverse, covering every branch of the Indian state and key sectors of the economy. Far from declining and fading away, as predicted, with deregulation and liberalization, it has increased exponentially in the twenty-first century at all levels—central, state and local. It can be seen today as a normal, not a pathological, condition within the political economy.

In several states, corruption involving politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen and in some cases, criminal elements has graduated to a new qualitative stage, transforming itself into a well-oiled, rule- and rate-bound and self-propelled system of collecting and sharing the illicit spoils of office. In this seminal book, N. Ram, who led the investigation into the Bofors grand corruption scandal, attempts to get a measure of ‘political corruption’ in contemporary India and explains why it has become an intractable problem.

Review: The Book, Why Scams Are Here To Stay attempts to give a comprehensive account of corruption in India. Given the scale of corruption scandals in India, it is impossible to keep it within the purview of a single book. N. Ram has however attempted to provide a concise yet academic account of the corruption scenario in India.

The book is divided into three sections and section three deals with case studies with a lot of attention given to the Bofors scandal which has become a hallmark for corruption in India.

I was expecting a more of a journalistic account but N. Ram has given it a thesis kind of orientation. Nevertheless, it is an important book that dwells a lot on the corruption problem. the author also offers insights on how to tackle corruption in India right from legislative to citizen level initiatives.

“It is important to remember that corruption is not one mode of moral and social behaviour.”

There is an interesting attempt to look at corruption in India through the lens of the colonial lens and this was an eye opener. However, the British have long left India and it would be foolish to blame Indian corruption and inefficiencies on the Raj. This approach of blaming everything on the Raj needs to stop; India has had quite a long time to put its house in order and it should learn to accept its failures especially concerning political corruption.

The author also deliberates on the sting operations and trial by media- a fad which is widely prevalent in Indian journalism currently. Reporting corruption is often a problem for the media but then many cases would not have come to light except for the proactive role played by Indian media.

Perhaps the author can tackle the corruption in the PDS system in his follow up efforts if he decides to write a sequel. Nevertheless, this is a wonderful book but it’s not for everyone. Only serious readers invited and surely you won’t be disappointed.

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