Monday, October 14, 2013

India's urban middle class losing patience with (rural) corruption

At least that is what Ellen Barry's story, dateline Daltenganj, India, suggests.  The headline is "In India's Politics, Jail Time is a Badge of Honor," but the story implies that this is increasingly the case only outside the "urban middle class."  Here's an excerpt:
In Delhi, crowds driven by Internet campaigns have rallied around an anticorruption platform, holding brooms to symbolize the coming cleansing. The Supreme Court, sensing the public mood, ruled in July that it was illegal for politicians who had been convicted of crimes to continue holding office by simply filing an appeal against their convictions. 
* * *  
The effort will meet its greatest challenge in another India — the old one, where voting is still largely driven by caste. In the tribal region that Mr. Baitha represents, the vast majority of elected officials face criminal charges, most related to corruption, but many for violent crimes. Voters typically dismiss such charges as trumped-up, one more attempt by elites to crush the champions of the poor.
But while Barry uses the word "urban" several times to describe one faction, she never uses the word "rural," referring instead to regional and tribal leaders, as in this excerpt.  In short, it is the (apparently) rural who are corrupt, the urban middle class who are the reformers losing tolerance for the former.  That dynamic is also suggested by this quote from journalist and political commentator Neerja Chowdhury, who calls corruption:
more of an urban middle-class issue rather than for groups who are in ascendance. 

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