x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Corruption, says Singh

When even the army chief of staff can be bluntly offered a bribe, as in India, there's no doubt that reform is overdue. But will it happen?

The people of India are all too familiar with corruption. But General Vijay Kumar Singh, the army chief of staff, managed to create a sensation this week by telling the newspaper The Hindu that he had been offered a bribe of 140 million rupees (Dh10 million) if he would agree to buy 600 substandard vehicles for the army.

That corruption could reach so high, he told the paper, shows that "obviously, somewhere our standards of probity and integrity have fallen". He was referring to the military, noting that the man who offered the bribe had recently left the army. But Gen Singh's sombre words will be seen by many as an indictment of Indian corruption in general.

Of course, in India - as everywhere else - political news is not always what it seems. Gen Singh has been quarrelling with his civilian masters over his retirement date - he is in no hurry to go - and claims that a squabble over his birth date (and hence when he must retire) was generated by his resistance to corruption.

News reports say both houses of India's parliament were thrown into pandemonium by the army chief's claim, but obviously it is not more pandemonium that India needs on this subject. Yet another investigation has been launched, and public outrage will be renewed yet again. Maybe this time, finally, something will actually change.