Nous publions ci-dessous une interview de Devdutt Pattanaik (écrivain et chercheur indien) au sujet de la corruption en Inde.
The nation is engaged in a heated discussion over corruption and scams. Is corruption new to Indian culture? How have we traditionally responded to it?
What we think is modern vocabulary is actually just a Western one. The Western template is based on the assumption that we live only once. When you live only once you want to create
perfection in this life itself. You are driven by a sense of urgency. You want to do everything right, you want everything to go your way. When that does not happen, you get frustrated.
Indian philosophy, on the other hand, believes in rebirth. There is no sense of urgency as we believe people evolve, things transform. Our template is a spiral - we move upwards and downwards. Everything has always existed, in different proportions. There was corruption then and there is corruption now.
In the western model, there is a beginning and an end. But ‘Happily Ever After’ is not a phrase you hear in Indian stories. Ramayana ends with Sita being exiled. Vyas’s Mahabharata ends with Pandavas ascending to heaven. There is no great climax leading to a full stop.
We are schizophrenic because we are caught between the one-life and the rebirth constructs. The former is prescriptive and gives you dos and don’ts. But ours is a reflective culture. We don’t say you should or should not do this. We ask - Why is violence bad? So we need to question and understand why there is corruption.
When you say there was corruption earlier which point in history are you referring to?
Corruption has its roots in the time when
we became defensive about ourselves. When the early traders came to India they found a country ruled by Muslims with a vast tax-paying population that comprised followers of a strange religion
that did not believe in any one god.
The East India Company, the first shareholding company in the world, wanted to make money and started a systematic campaign of breaking down the people to this end. They were not interested in us at all until 1857, when they went to Benaras, picked up the Manusmriti and created the Indian Penal Code. They chose the Bhagvad Gita and made us swear on it in the court. And that is how they constructed India.
Indians didn’t record history because history did not matter to us, philosophy did. British thinkers and intellectuals made Indians apologetic about our identity and our lack of sense of history. Even the reformers who were educated in the British system felt miserable about the country because the one-life construct was their benchmark.
After we got liberated, the bureaucracy was told to serve India. They remained the masters because the mindset of the institution did not change. We wanted to be a democracy. Did we ask ourselves how we will fund it? That is how the seed of corruption was sowed. People would now have to worry about winning the next elections and generate funds for that. So our whole life revolves around surviving and not serving.
The political class is terrified of losing power. It has no time to use the power to serve the country. They are no different from the East India Company. The shareholder has changed, that’s all.
Why do we suffer from a lack of leadership
even though we have powerful politicians?
I don’t see powerful politicians, only weak and terrified ones. I see a bunch of people who have no faith in themselves. India has no Yajman, who is willing to take responsibility. During the 26/11 terror attacks not a single person took personal responsibility. People blame the system, coalition politics, corruption, the foreign hand, terrorists and Americans for everything.
Food is rotting in go downs, farmers are killing themselves but nobody is taking responsibility for the collapse of the system. Nobody thinks about what we will do 20 years from now.
But isn’t that the reality of a developing country. Most of us struggle for survival. Where is the scope for visionary ideas?
There are people in India who enjoy absolute wealth and power. Not a single person on the ‘telephone tapes’ was struggling for survival. Each one of them was capable of becoming a
visionary. We have always had a raja class. They’re capable but the intention is missing.
What is stopping those with obscene amounts of wealth from becoming visionaries? They are fighting with their brothers and being petty. The richest and most powerful men in the country are indulging in Mahabharata-like battles. Society does not change people, people change people.
Would you say going back to our spiritual
roots is the way to move ahead?
We are the only country in the world that has a saint, a Mahatma, father of the nation. We have always wanted larger-than-life spiritual leaders because we know the answer does not lie in economics. We have worshipped Lakshmi with Saraswati because without wisdom wealth is dangerous. The only way to tackle money is with Saraswati (NDLR : déesse de la connaissance) because she takes away fear. Lakshmi is the consequence of good governance, not the other way round.