To the Editor

The Hindu


Subject: Abetting corruption



S.N. Gajanan (Markets and Efficient Corruption’, September 24) does signal service by analysing the state of public-service delivery in this country, a matter of great importance to the ordinary Indian even as it is studiedly ignored by economists both academic and radical. He is entirely right to emphasise that it is one thing to prescribe what the state ought to do and quite another what the state actually does, a dichotomy overlooked only at the peril of a continued ignorance. However, his contention that were private consumers and public employees to interact the level of corruption generated will be "efficient" in the economist’s sense that neither too much nor too little is produced does not always follow. In a market with many buyers and one seller, termed a monopoly, too little is produced and some buyers are rationed, so to speak, in their demand for corruptible services. Indeed, exactly as income is re-distributed to the monopolist, in India where the state has monopoly over many services individuals who capture the state apparatus extract rents from the poor. Several centuries ago Hobbes had bequeathed us the extraordinary insight of the state as sole repository of legitimised violence. In India, a veil of sentimentality leads many, of whom Gajanan it appears is not one, to overlook the debilitating consequences of the state’s position vis-a-vis vital public services.

Pulapre Balakrishnan

C 10, NIT Campus

P.O. Calicut REC

Kozhikode 673 601.