インドの歴史家Ramchandra GuhaがThe New Republicの書評記事で自国のことをそう評している(Mostly Economics経由の Chris Blattman経由)。

THE REPUBLIC OF INDIA is the most reckless political experiment in human history. Never before was a single nation constructed out of so many diverse and disparate parts. Partitioned at birth on the basis of religion, India now has almost as many Muslims as the Muslim homeland of Pakistan. It has more Christians than Australia, more Buddhists than Tibet, more Sikhs, Jains, and Parsis than any country in the world. The Hindus, nominally the religious “majority,” are divided into tens of thousands of endogamous castes and sects. Meanwhile, the extraordinary linguistic diversity of India is represented on the country’s currency notes, with the denomination—50 rupees, 10 rupees, and so on—written in seventeen languages, each with a distinct script.

This is an unnatural nation, as well as an unlikely democracy. Never before was a population so poor and so illiterate asked to vote freely to choose who would govern it. Unlike in the West, where the franchise was granted in stages, the Indian constitution immediately gave the vote to every adult regardless of caste, class, education, or gender. This was an act of faith, greeted with widespread disbelief: writing of the first general elections, held in 1952, a prominent Indian editor observed that they were the “biggest gamble in history.” It was a gamble that seems to have paid off—there have been fourteen general elections since, each the greatest democratic exercise in human history (with some four hundred million voting in the last iteration in 2009), as well as regular elections in states more populous than France or Germany.


IN A BOOK PUBLISHED in 2007, the year marking the sixtieth anniversary of Indian independence, I argued that while a democracy had to be founded by visionaries, it could be run in mid-career by mediocrities. Such was the case with India, and with the United States, for the distance between Mahatma Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi was no more, and no less, than the distance between George Washington and George W. Bush. Five years later, I see that this might have been an excessively sanguine judgment. The people who rule India today are worse than mediocrities. Forget idealism or vision, they are not even competent, being motivated rather by vanity, greed, or nepotism (or all of the above).

“The state is impersonal; the Argentine can only conceive of personal relations,” wrote Borges. “Therefore, to him, robbing public funds is not a crime. I am noting a fact; I am not justifying or excusing it.” The causes of corruption in India are somewhat more sociological— not so much “personal” as “kin” and “community” and interest group. Public funds are diverted not to one’s friend or mistress, but to one’s nephew or caste-mate. But the effect is the same, namely, the undermining of institutions meant to serve society as a whole rather than a particular slice of it.
On the whole, though, public institutions in India are defined more by corruption and incompetence than by transparency and accountability. The Gandhian period seems, in retrospect, an aberration. Inspired by the idealism and the spirit of self-sacrifice of the national movement, two or three generations of politicians, civil servants, and judges subordinated their personal ambitions (and kinship ties) to the impersonal goals of the institutions they had chosen to serve. As late as the 1960s, most cabinet ministers and all Supreme Court judges were, in a financial sense, incorruptible. But as the impulse animating the freedom struggle receded, the basic building blocks of the society reasserted themselves. Whether acting in their private or their public capacity, officials of the state would now privilege the interests of their family, caste, and community above those of the institution itself.
「国は個人では無い。一方、アルゼンチン人は個人的関係しか認識できない」とボルヘスは書いた。「従って、アルゼンチン人にとって、公金を盗むのは犯罪では無い。私は事実を述べているのであって、正当化したり言い訳をしているのでは無い。」 インドの汚職の原因は、それよりは幾分か社会的ではある。「個人」よりは、「縁者」や「共同体」や利益団体に傾いているからだ。公金は友人や愛人ではなく、甥やカースト仲間向けに流用される。だが、結果は同じことである。即ち、本来は社会の特定の集団ではなく全体に奉仕すべき機関の腐敗である。



Sixty-four years after the British departed, the Republic of India remains a work in progress. The experiment has clearly not failed, nor has it emphatically succeeded. Home to the most elevating as well as the most depressing aspects of the human experience, it inspires—in this citizen at any rate—pride and embarrassment in equal measure.


The books and the review take too much of an uncritical Great Man view of history for my taste, in spite of the fact I take the view more seriously than many social scientists. The review is incoherent at times, but nonetheless an interesting read. I would like to hear what Acemoglu and Robinson would say about the books and India in general.

*1:cf. ここ