So, who is covering up for whom?

Dozens of witnesses in a massive fraud case in India surrounding cheating at college and government jobs have been found dead, including four in the past two days.
Investigators say thousands of people got jobs or medical degrees from systematic exam cheating that generated millions of dollars in bribes in the state of Madhya Pradesh.
At least 36 people connected to the case in the state, run by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have died since the scam was first brought to light in 2013. More than 2,000 have been arrested in relation to the scam.
Four more people connected to the case have died since the weekend, just days before a Supreme Court hearing and amid opposition accusations that a regional unit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party was protecting the accused.

As someone who has extensive experience of working in properly corrupt areas of the world (although not India) I do get funny looks when I point out quite how uncorrupt the UK is.

It’s a societal, social perhaps, thing. In some parts of the world, if you want to do something, the first question is “Who do we bribe and how much?” I’ve even been in parts of the world where before you decide what you’re going to do you work out who you know well enough to bribe. That being the only way you’re ever going to get inside the network.

In Britain, well, I’ve never tried it, on the grounds that I’m pretty certain that you’re odds on to get dobbed in even for raising the idea of handing around brown envelopes. Several readers here have similar experiences, having worked in odd parts of the world…..although, actually, the real statement here is that it is Britain which is gloriously odd. I have happily bribed my way (yes, back when it was legal) foreign parts and I wouldn’t even know how to start doing so in my native country. It really is a different place.

34 thoughts on “My word”

  1. Well it says 2000 have been arrested but doesn’t give us a number for those ‘connected’. Need that number to know if 36 of them dying over a 2 year period is odd or not.

  2. With petty little officials I do my best to not give the bastards a penny. In Lahore airport I once unpacked my case and listed the entire contents rather than give the piece of shit customs official a couple of quid.

  3. With petty little officials I do my best to not give the bastards a penny. In Lahore airport I once unpacked my case and listed the entire contents rather than give the piece of shit customs official a couple of quid.

    The important thing is to give them the impression you have all the time in the world. While you’re filling in forms, they’re losing revenue. I blogged about this here.

  4. Following on from Tim Newman’s point, when I pay my practising certificate fee, am I paying a bribe or am I subject to a protection racket?

    In England, you see, while I’m filling out forms, theyre not losing revenue.

  5. Need that number to know if 36 of them dying over a 2 year period is odd or not.

    Okay, well, this is a partially educated guess. Or a Fermi estimate.

    These people (are likely to be ‘these guys’) are post-fake-graduate – so at least 25. Let’s call it 30.

    Life expectancy at birth in Madhya Pradesh is less than 64 (UN 2011 figures). I know life expectancy at 30 would be a better figure but I don’t have it.

    So we’re guesstimating an average life expectancy of a further 34 years. So, bodging things even further, 1/34 of the 2000 would die each year. Ish. That’s about 60 of them.

    So, 120 over 2 years.

    Okay, so they are likely to be the wealthier and therefore healthier of the population. But, at first glance, 36 dying compared to our estimate of 120 means that the numbers aren’t too frightening.

    However, a hanging “suicide” and drowning in a pond? The individual cases highlighted by the journo don’t pass the sniff test. Which is probably the selection effect. “A 50 year old witness died of a heart attack,” wouldn’t be as effective a news story – we get details of a twelfth of the cases.

  6. Very good blog post Tim N. I enjoyed it. Nigeria seems much worse than China. We don’t get pulled over by cops after bribes around here. What we have are officials after bribes for not meeting regulations (fire etc) but we simply jump through all the hoops and meet the regs.

  7. SE, your Fermi estimate is based on the assumption that people will die at a steady rate (instead of at lower rates when younger and higher rates as they get older) and that everyone would be dead by the time they reach their life expectancy.

    If you live in a country with a life expectancy of 70, would you really expect half the people (of the same age) you knew when you were 16 to be dead by the time you were 43?

  8. So Much for Subtlety

    I have happily bribed my way (yes, back when it was legal) foreign parts and I wouldn’t even know how to start doing so in my native country. It really is a different place.

    You know, I have to say it – not for much longer.

    I am appalled by how insular British people are. They really don’t understand how lucky they are to have British policemen much less British Courts. Even British politicians.

    I wonder what I could say about Ali Dizaei before Ironman started his usual Polly impersonation?

  9. They really don’t understand how lucky they are to have British policemen

    I’d substitute the *are* for *were*. Now I’d not like to be on the wrong side of the police in any serious matter anywhere, but I’ve noticed the French police are somewhat wary of the French public that they refrain from haranguing them over minor, inconsequential, petty laws. Not so in the UK, where the modern policeman appears to delight in lecturing, threatening, and cajoling ordinary folk over trivial matters which rather too often turn out to be perfectly legal. Which might not be so bad, were the police also ready to tackle serious crimes like widespread rioting instead of standing idly by.

    I’d not trust a British policeman as far as you could throw him. I’d not trust a French policeman either, but the good thing in France is that 1) you don’t have to and 2) everybody already knows this. One of the oddest hang-overs from bygone eras in the UK – up the with the NHS and BBC worship – is the notion that the police can be trusted. They can’t, and if they ever were, it was a long time ago.

  10. So Much for Subtlety

    Investigators say thousands of people got jobs or medical degrees from systematic exam cheating that generated millions of dollars in bribes in the state of Madhya Pradesh.

    One of the arguments about under-development is about institutions. If you were a country lucky enough to get British institutions you are doing better than if you got Spanish ones. Not so as you would actually notice mind you, but apparently if you look *really* closely.

    But this is just a reminder that institutions do not work the same way all over the world. India has got a lot of British style universities. Are they actually, you know, universities? This suggests not. My favorite factoid is that Haitian children get as many years of education as Italian students did in 1957. May even be true. What were Italy’s school leavers turning out in 1957 and what are Haiti’s?

    As Puerto Rico implodes, someone with first hand experience has written something about how awful their schools are. Steve Sailor has been pointing out how badly they perform. But Steve Sailor is actually the sort of person BiG and Rusty need to pretend I am (although very interesting and always worth as read), and he did so on a site that is not safe for work, so let me quote:

    The federal government has been administering a special Puerto Rico-customized version of its National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) exam in Spanish to Puerto Rican public school students, and the results have been jaw-droppingly bad.

    For example, among Puerto Rican 8th graders tested in mathematics in 2013, 95% scored Below Basic, 5% scored Basic, and (to the limits of rounding) 0% scored Proficient, and 0% scored Advanced. These results were the same in 2011.

    In contrast, among American public school students poor enough to be eligible for subsidized school lunches (“NSLP” in the graph above), only 39% scored Below Basic, 41% scored Basic, 17% scored Proficient, and 3% scored Advanced.

    Puerto Rico’s test scores are just shamefully low, suggesting that Puerto Rican schools are completely dropping the ball. By way of contrast, in the U.S., among black 8th graders, 38% score Basic, 13% score Proficient, and 2% score Advanced. In the U.S. among Hispanic 8th graders, 41% reach Basic, 18% Proficient, and 3% Advanced.

    95% scored Below Basic. In Spanish. Must be the lingering legacy of Western colonialism. And Disney cartoons objectifying women and Native Americans. And Lara Croft. Isn’t that right Biggie? Rusty?

    British institutions work in Britain. Overseas, not so much. There must be a reason for this. Slavery! That must be it.

  11. It would be naive to suggest there is no corruption in the UK – albeit it tends to be in certain geographical areas (Luftur Rahman anyone?) and also closely related to certain issues – CAP Fraud within the EU, as well as people lying about their residence status to get their children into School, a practice which I am told has reached Olympic levels in certain London boroughs – however, in your face corruption of the type so superbly detailed by Tim Newman is (currently) very rare indeed. If Murphy or his ilk have their way though it is likely to be a fact of life in short order.

  12. Re: SMFS

    “I wonder what I could say about Ali Dizaei before Ironman started his usual Polly impersonation?”

    In a lot of ways the thing that fundamentally pissed me off about the Rotherham situation beyond the straightforward disgust at what happened, was how the Pakistani’s in positions of power were behaving as if this was Pakistan.

    The Inspector at the time in charge of dealing with Child Sexual Exploitation was Abdul Aziz, a childhood friend of the deputy head of the Council.

    I bet the inquiry team would love to have a long conversation with Mr Aziz, but they can’t seeing as he has hotfooted it to Pakistan and hasn’t come back.

    You also won’t see his name ever mentioned on the Guardian webiste nor the BBC’s. Wonder why?

  13. your Fermi estimate is based on the assumption …

    Well, yes, that’s the point of a _Fermi_ estimate. We’re trying to get rough orders of magnitude here – 1, 10, 100 or 1000 per year? I got somewhere around the middle (if you think in log scales).

    Corners I cut also included:

    1. The wrong life expectancy – this will have a significant impact downwards, given the high child mortality.
    2. Using the upper bound from the graphic based on the actual numbers rather than looking up the figures.
    3. Using a both sexes figure rather than a male figure.
    4. Assuming, probably accurately, that most of the accused and witnesses would be blokes.
    5. Assuming all 2000 were 30. This will have a significant impact upwards.

    So, is mine an accurate estimate? No, clearly not.

    But is it a good Fermi estimate? Yup. And does it answer Dongguan John’s point? I think it does. 36 of 2000 dying over two years is not, just from the numbers “odd”. If anything, it appears a little low.

  14. Aw, Tim N. “I’d substitute the *are* for *were*.”

    No, no, no. You’d substitute ‘were’ for “are”.

    You should learn your English from somewhere other than football commentators. Ampleforth, say.

  15. Corruption in the UK is not (yet) at an individual level. Trying to pass cash to the average state parasite won’t work. Cos–unlike Africa etc–they are already paid at a reletively high level. Someone with a good wage and (at least in prospect) a good pension to come is not going to boot those into hazard for a lousy £20 handover from you to look the other way. The “higher” up you go in society and the bigger the amounts involved the more corruption you will find. Mostly in areas that are not adequately checked or overlooked. Councils and 3rd Sector Quangos/Fake Charities. That is where to start looking. And the Police. They are well-paid enough but are poorly overlooked and thus have a long history of corruption.

  16. P.S. If Tim W doesn’t want to elicit the English Master in me, he shouldn’t use the headline “My word”.

  17. The latest deaths included a national television journalist who began foaming at the mouth soon after interviewing the parents of Namrata Damor, a student who had obtained a college seat as part of the scam and was herself later found dead on train tracks in January 2012.

    SE,

    Your Fermi estimate doesn’t account for connections between deaths. That level of coincidence changes the figures significantly.

  18. @Tim Newman I always work on the assumption that the Police are on the Governments side in this country, and largely in most of Western Europe too. In most of the rest of the World they’re often the biggest criminals, and laws are largely what they threaten you with in order to extort money.

    As we get more, and increasingly stupid laws, it’s arguable which is the better of the two types of Police. It’s summed up in the C.S. Lewis quote:-

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

  19. Mmmm, well, the Clinton Death list is over twice as long with plenty of superficially suspicious sounding circumstances, in an approximately proportionally sized state, and I don’t think the Ice Queen and the lush killed all of those people either.

  20. SMFS
    “One of the arguments about under-development is about institutions. If you were a country lucky enough to get British institutions you are doing better than if you got Spanish ones.”

    I was in Cambodia last month. This guy there told me they look at Hong Kong and Singapore and joke that “If only we got the British rather than the French”. Yeah I know HK and S’pore are city states and not the same but they still have a point. 😉

  21. Mr Ecks

    True enough on Quangos and mainly state-funded ‘charities’ – this Third Sector seems to be the home of some of the most fiendishly (And openly) corrupt individuals in Britain – who can forget the disgraceful and overtly racist Lee Jasper, who even now seems to subsist on the taxpayer’s largesse…..

  22. So Much for Subtlety

    Dongguan John – “I was in Cambodia last month. This guy there told me they look at Hong Kong and Singapore and joke that “If only we got the British rather than the French”. Yeah I know HK and S’pore are city states and not the same but they still have a point.”

    Cambodia is a f**king low blow innit? Hard to do worse. The Ugandans might be looking next door and wishing they got the French. British colonies have, on the whole, done better than Spanish ones or Cambodia. But mainly because the British cut fairly early and handed power to generally not such bad people. The Portuguese handed power to Communists – except in Brazil. Pity the people of Angola. But the Cambodians really drew the short end of the stick.

    After all, the British left Malaya, and while Malaysia is not genocidal, the Prime Minister seems to be imploding. A while ago he was flying all over the world with a pretty Mongolian model, who was his “interpreter”. She became pregnant. Bone fragments turned up in the rain forest. She had been shot at least twice and then her body blown up by military C4. Two policemen from the anti-terror squad have been charged and convicted (and released on appeal and then re-convicted on the appeal of the appeal). They were attached to the Prime Minister’s office as his body guards.

    Now there are credibly allegations that just under a billion US dollars have been moved from 1Malaysia Development Board, a government financial vehicle, to his bank accounts. 1MDB now has over $10 billion in debts.

    On top of which the Courts are still looking into the purchase of some submarines from the French when he was Minister of Defence.

    All within the framework of a British colony with British style institutions. It is impressive actually. Like something out of a Graham Greene novel.

  23. Mr Newman, I doff my hat. Not everyone takes a teasing so well. Not even me sometimes.

    Everyone has their role. Yours appears to be to correct my grammatical errors!

  24. SMfS… re Cambodia. you know a country’s in a state when the Vietnamese are strutting around like they own the place.

  25. I was in Cambodia last month. This guy there told me they look at Hong Kong and Singapore and joke that “If only we got the British rather than the French”.

    Yet if you compare Congo with Nigeria? I suspect the difference is the British institutions were never established in Nigeria. For all their whining about oppressive colonialism, Britain siezed Nigeria for no other reason that it could, had little idea what to do with it, and left about a dozen blokes in charge who left the locals to do what they’d always done.

  26. SE: i applaud the attempt, but that’s a not a good estimate. The problem is that old and very young people are very much more likely to die than people around age 30.

    In here there’s a table giving life expectancy at ten year age intervals. Remaining life expectancy in Madhya Pradesh is 50.2 at 20, 41.4 at 30, and 32.5 at 40. If you assume uniform death rates within each interval, that implies an annual death rate of about 0.26% between 20 and 30 and 0.29% between 30 and 40. So out of 2000 people about 11 in two years.

  27. It was 2k arrests. the 36 deaths come from people ‘connected’ with the scam. Which is why I said unless we know that number we don’t know if it’s odd or not. It could be 10s of thousands.

  28. Tim N

    The reason French plod does not bother with minor infringements is not that he’s a sympathetic human being, It’s because he has to write reports.

    Put him in front of a keyboard and look at the utter bafflement on his face. Plus, French is difficult to write when ai, ez, ais, ait, aient, é, ée, ées, és, hé, haie and eh? sound the same. When all you’ve got is the brevet or a Bac Pro it’s hard not to look like a chump on paper.

  29. The reason French plod does not bother with minor infringements is not that he’s a sympathetic human being, It’s because he has to write reports.

    I always thought it was because he is dimly aware that the government is often a complete bunch of c*nts who he has nothing in common with, and the public – with whom he does have something in common – might decide to lop his head off one of these days along with the government he serves.

    But it might be the reports. Although I think my explanation is why they don’t intervene to clear the roads during strikes.

  30. Bloke in Costa Rica

    bif: I am stealing that for the next time someone does one of those “cor English spelling it’s mental innit?” things.

  31. So Much for Subtlety

    dearieme – “P.S. If Tim W doesn’t want to elicit the English Master in me, he shouldn’t use the headline “My word”.”

    Presumably it is this that is behind the poor performance of Puerto Rican schools. For some reason some British educators feel a need to educate as opposed to collecting a pay cheque.

    So carry on.

  32. So Much for Subtlety

    dearieme – “P.S. If Tim W doesn’t want to elicit the English Master in me, he shouldn’t use the headline “My word”.”

    In the same spirit of pedantry, I was mildly annoyed to see The Daily Mail claiming graffiti was a Greek word. It may be in origin for all I know, but I am pretty sure English gets it from the Italian. As mistakes go it is a nice one because it is claiming obscure knowledge the author does not have.

    In the same spirit in their article on the new Greek Finance Minister (well, Greek-ish, it turns out he is Dutch), they do something similar when they claim he “read Oxford”. Myself I always assumed you read something at Oxford. Like PPE or English.

    While I knew he was a Communist I did not know his PhD supervisor was Włodzimierz Brus. Another one of these wonderful refugees we got from Poland. Brus himself is not so bad as unrepentant Stalinists go – or at least there is nothing obviously criminal in his past unlike Zygmunt Bauman. Brus was a functionary for the Comintern – that is, a spy – and he was the Head of Propaganda for the new Soviet Puppet State. So a Quisling rather than one of the Ukrainians who volunteered to murder Jews. It is his wife, Helena Wolińska-Brus that I have problems with. She was another Stalinist functionary but in her case, a Stalinist military prosecutor. Wanted by the Polish government for the judicial murder of Poles who had the bad taste to fight the Nazis on Britain’s side. Britain declined to extradite her to Poland.

    It warms the cockles of my heart to think that my taxes went to pay for her comfortable retirement. Yet another argument for zero immigration.

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