Monday, September 03, 2007

It’s time to free our schools August 12. 2007

A dear friend of mine has grown weary. He runs five schools in the slums of Delhi which provide a fine education to 13,500 poor children with 250 motivated teachers. But his idealism is frayed from fighting the ‘license raj’ for 20 years. He has been unable to gain accreditation for his schools because he is unwilling to bribe. Instead he is humiliated daily as he runs from one official to another. Ironically, ‘license raj’ went away in industry in 1991 but it still thrives in education. You need 11 licenses to run a school and each comes with a bribe. The most egregious one is an Essentiality Certificate by which a bureaucrat decides if your school is ‘essential’.

The answer to corruption is institutional reform--get rid of licenses and Essentiality Certificates and create massive disincentives against corruption. The new science of sociobiology explains how this works and how to get people to behave honestly. Evolutionary scientists teach us that human beings have evolved through a long struggle in which only the fittest have survived. The fittest are those who pass on their genes. But it is a mistake to believe that life is a tooth and claw struggle where only the selfish survive. Yes, we have evolved from animals—we share 98.6 percent of our genes with chimpanzees—but nature is replete with dharma-like goodness. Wolves and wild dogs bring food back for their young who cannot hunt. Dolphins will help lift an injured companion for hours to help him survive. Blackbirds and thrushes give warning calls when they spot a hawk even if it risks their own lives. Similarly, human parents make huge sacrifices for their children with little expectation of return. So, it is wrong to view nature as an amoral law of the jungle.

But how do you get human beings to behave as nicely with strangers as they do with their children? Two weeks ago I wrote in this column about two prisoners who would go free if they cooperated and how dharma-like behaviour emerges from reciprocal altruism. In The Descent of Man, Charles Darwin wrote that each person ‘learns from experience that if he aided his fellow-men he would receive aid in return’. However, if a person is mean, he will receive ‘tit for tat’ according to the principle of reciprocity. This is sociobiology’s answer to corruption: reciprocate corrupt behaviour with exemplary and quick punishment. Even Yudhishthira in the Mahabharata, who is inclined to turn the other cheek, realizes this and finally declares war on the Kauravas.

We have forgotten this lesson in India and this is why Gunnar Myrdal called us a ‘soft state’. Our idealistic approach to labour prevents quick punishment of the guilty. We have all the laws in place but our administrative processes are so ‘soft’ that they allow both the bribe taker and giver to get away, and this in turn sends a signal that corruption pays. Western countries were able to eliminate corruption because they punished it ruthlessly at various moments in their history. The message, ‘corruption does not pay’, became encoded in their culture, and their citizens over time acquired virtuous habits.

The answer to my friend’s problem is thus two-fold: first, liberalize and get rid of most licenses in education. If you do this, honest professionals will start good schools. More schools will mean more competition and this will improve quality all round, and good schools will drive out bad schools. Second, bribe-taking bureaucrats will behave decently if you vigorously inflict massive, rapid punishment on the guilty in accordance with sociobiology’s principle of reciprocity.

5 comments:

srjwebsolutions said...

We are leading responsive website designing and development company in Noida.
We are offering mobile friendly responsive website designing, website development, e-commerce website, seo service and sem services in Noida.

Responsive Website Designing Company in Noida
Website Designing Company in Noida
SEO Services in Noida
SMO Services in Noida

EG MEDI said...

Egmedi.com is online medical store pharmacy in laxmi nagar Delhi. You can Order prescription/OTC medicines online.
Cash on Delivery available. Free Home Delivery


Online Pharmacy in Delhi
Buy Online medicine in Delhi
Online Pharmacy in laxmi nagar
Buy Online medicine in laxmi nagar
Onine Medical Store in Delhi
Online Medical store in laxmi nagar
Online medicine store in delhi
online medicine store in laxmi nagar
Purchase Medicine Online
Online Pharmacy India
Online Medical Store

indian models91 said...

We are uhe solid first platform for modeling newcomers to achieve there new dreams. The first to train and promote out models at our expense to avoid burden on them. Join the most popular agency if you modelling jobs in Delhi for female freshers, models, students, housewives aiming to start there modeling career. We are top modelling agency in Delhi offering modelling jobs in Delhi for upcoming female freshers or experienced models who want to join lingerie modeling agencies.


modeling agencies in Delhi
modeling agencies
modeling jobs
modeling auditions
model coordinators
modeling jobs in Delhi

ANIL GUPTA said...

We are specialized in Mechanised cleaning of Underground and Overhead Water Tanks of all sizes. Door Step services across Delhi, Noida and Ghaziabad.


Water tank cleaning services in Noida
Water tank cleaning services in Ghaziabad
Water tank cleaning services in Delhi

Drain cleaning services in Noida

Drain cleaning services in Ghaziabad
Drain cleaning services in Delhi
Pipeline Cleaning Service in Noida


Pipeline cleaning services in Ghaziabad
Pipeline cleaning services in Delhi


Tank cleaning services in Noida

Tank cleaning services in Ghaziabad
Tank cleaning services in Delhi

Exide Battery said...

Battery Mantra Buy Car and Inverter battery online in India. BatteryMantra is Noida based India's No. 1 online battery store offering you genuine batteries of all the well-known battery brands at best prices.

Online Inverter Battery Store
Online Car Battery Store
Buy Inverter battery Dealer Noida
Buy battery online Noida
Online Inverter Battery Store
Buy car battery Noida