Hacker News new | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
The mystery of India’s deadly exam scam (theguardian.com)
266 points by oska on Dec 18, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 173 comments

It is hard for those in Western countries to imagine what it is like to live in a corrupt state like that.

Eastern Europe is like that as well. Corruption is a way of life. It starts from bribing the doctor who will deliver the baby, to bribing kindergarten teachers, to high school teachers, paying to cheat on a state exam, buying a driver's license etc, until bribing the cemetery to take make an extra spot for the deceased when the person dies.

Pretty much any interaction with a state could involve bribery and corruption. From the most mundane things, like a traffic stop, to paying a bribe to get away with murder.

In school I remember people who did very badly during the year often ended up miraculously get good grades on finals. Cases of judges being paid off to exonerate criminals were common.

One of the lowest of the low scam artist was an acquintance of a neighbor living next door. That person worked for a DNA testing lab. They did criminal testing as well as paternity testing. You can imagine the kind of things they were dealing with and the pain they were causing. They drove a fancy car and had a big house on the outskirts of the city -- all on a lab technician's salary.

Corruption is the reason I cannot tollerate visiting that part of the world anymore. It really angers and gets to me. It is not the poverty, crime, bad infrastructure, I can handle those things, but I can't handle corruption.

I too hate corruption. It's the main reason why the south of Europe is doing so badly.

If corruption was lower where I'm from, Portugal, we could easily double our GDP.

Corruption makes people miserable and not only the ones forced to pay the bribes.

It's like an unwritten and arbitrary set of rules that turns simple transactions into negotiations.

This not only saps energy and time but it is also deeply unfair as you are raised in a set of official written rules and moral guidelines that in practice are not observed are useless and can downright hurt you if you follow them naively.

I think corruption is one of the reasons why Southern European countries are so economically conservative and risk averse. It is much more difficult to have a business in these environments.


Italian here. It's not just corruption here but almost every social interaction is built as an exchange of favours. From having a job to not getting screwed from the auto shop, you live off a network of people owing you and you get in their circles by owing them back. It's a very powerful system because everyone understands the honour it's based on, you can't track it because it's immaterial and it's so widespread that you get huge pressure to cave in and become part of the system.

Moderately amusing story.

I was born and raised in the USA, but my parents emigrated from Italy.

About 20 years ago, my brother applied to grad school @ MIT (physics department).

Somehow, my father got it in his mind that he would "help out" by contacting the US Congressman in our district (whom he knew somewhat well) so that the Congressman could contact the physics department and facilitate my brother's acceptance.

Predictably, my brother blew a head-gasket. He tried explaining that:

* he would feel incredible shame if he was accepted due to outside meddling.

* the chances of this working to my brother's advantage were approximately zero.

* it might even _reduce_ the likelihood of acceptance.

The funniest part was that my father was bewildered by our reaction. His attitude was _"I don't understand you people. This is how you get things done!"_

>everyone understands the honour it's based on

That's the terrible thing about corruption. Sometimes it's not based in selfishness, but in honor and generosity.

It's just that old ideas about being honorable, a good provider, putting family and friends first and all that, are actually pretty terrible in modern bureaucracies.

So is it the modern bureaucracies that are terrible?

Or the "old ideas"?

It's the mismatch. Honor and reputation work for small high-trust societies where everyone knows each other, but a nation state (not to mention a global economy) requires more robust enforcement mechanisms.

On honor: It is that you can't really kick someone out of a nation state. In a smaller society, when you are dishonored, you leave the group. In a nation, you can't really do that, so we have made up ways to do so in a half way, namely prison. Honor doesn't really work in a nation state. Brett McKay has a lot to say about honor in the modern world starting here: http://www.artofmanliness.com/2012/10/01/manly-honor-part-i-...

They took away my family's right to vote in Pakistan. I think you can come up with plenty of ways to kick people out of a nation state short of making them stateless (which I guess isn't kosher after WWII) I suppose another good example would be the Rohingya in Myanmar

I hate to put the blame on to any "one" reason for Southern Europe doing badly, but I came across an article that probably gave a better reason why there was so much difference between North and South Europe, and the theory it presents is religious difference between Protestantism and Catholicism. Protestant (read the bible) & Catholic (follow the pope). This gave the north literary rise, and literary history, and advanced them above their southern neighbors.

Corruption could be fallout of illiteracy, or maybe, lack of corruption could be a fallout of advancing literacy.

It could go back even further than that - Rome ran on patronage, and maybe the southern states didn't fall as far as the northern ones.

If that is the case, Southern European corruption should reduce in the future, because now Catholics are literate too.

India still has terrible public education, so it may take them longer to catch up.

> India still has terrible public education, so it may take them longer to catch up.

India is a _very_ big country; as big as all of Europe, if not bigger. There are parts of India that are highly educated; in fact, the southern Indian state of Kerala has nearly 100% literacy. And corruption is plentiful there too.

India also has to dismantle the social systems and institutions set up by the British, which were designed to make people at the top rich, instead of running for the benefit of society.

Dismantling this is hard work, and you cannot simply destroy a bureaucracy without having a replacement ready (or chaos). WWII was good for Europe in some ways, because it massively destroyed the aristocracy and a lot of bureaucracy along with it. It was effectively a reboot of society, backed by a lot of cheap funding.

Yes, a lot of change cannot be done without massive upheaval - this is the dilemma we face in Africa.

Sounds like an interesting read, do you have link to the article?

The article was probably based on this book: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Protestant_Ethic_and_the_S...

I don't think that it is fair to compare corruption in Portugal (and perhaps in any other Southern European countries) with the kind of corruption described in the article.

Yes, you can find corruption over there and especially a lot of influence and favour trading BUT at least people are aware that it is both criminal and wrong, not a way of life or "the way things work".

EDIT: typo

>It's like an unwritten and arbitrary set of rules that turns simple transactions into negotiations.

Generators without internal resistance are fine, but don't short them, if they are high energy.

Having lived in Romania and Vietnam, you learn to appreciate the efficiency of just paying the bribe and getting on with your life. For example, if I get caught speeding I can bribe a cop for like $20 in Eastern Europe or Asia versus losing $1000s in Canada between fines and insurance premium increases.

I personally find it a lot less stressful than living in Canada where every time I see a cop I get a little adrenaline rush of fear.

Anyways, most of the other things on your list exist in Canada too, we just don't call it bribery, we call it "private clinics", "private school", "private motorcycle training academy where your instructor, who's the same person you're paying and reviewing, is the one who gives you your license".

Other side of the life is chaos, crime, pollution and insecurity, and not unimportant for the crowd here, low company valuations vs their profits in those countries. Exactly because laws don't work. No startups in the proper sense can exist in such conditions, because contracts can't enforced, intellectual property rights can't be protected, and venture capital is impossible because money can be only loaned for the physical collaterial - everything else like equity is just paper.

Also East Europe is a big place, and it is all different. What works in Russia or Ukraine might work only in a limited way in Hungary and the Baltics, and don't work at all in Slovakia. In Europe, it strongly depends on the fraction of Orthodox population. There is nothing like that in Czech Republic, for example. Interestingly wealth doesn't change that. Cyprus is rich, and Greece used to be rich until recently, and they are ridden with corruption from top to bottom.

>In Europe, it strongly depends on the fraction of Orthodox population.

Wait, what? Mind unpacking that idea a bit?

Just an observation. Orthodox people are prone to corruption because they see every organized structures except church as 'foreign'. For example, theft on the workplace (being it a government or private employer) is culturally OK for them, they don't even try to hide it from the people they know. Any collaboration with the government (even reporting crime not being its direct victim or family member) is a no-no. A cop can't be a friend, they mostly make friends between themselves. etc. etc.

Most Russians are terrified of the police, because they know that they can ask for a `bribe` even if you haven't done anything wrong.

The problem with corrupt isn't that the rules benefit one party or another, rather that they are unpredictable.

In Canada everybody speeds all the time. In fact, it would be unsafe not to speed on the 401 as you'd be driving considerably slower than everyone else.

So the enforcement randomness is the same, it's just the penalties are stiffer and longer-lasting.

Ah the 'whatoubout' defence. Don't bother addressing the issue of pervasive, ingrained corruption institutionalised into daily life in country X, 'whatabout' speeding in Canada?

My wife is from a country with ingrained corruption and her sister's husband is a police officer. Her cousin works at a notary's office, an institution who's only purpose is systematic corruption, and her husband narrowly escaped prison in a finance scandal at a company he ran through means that shall we say were less than ethical. Until you experience life in a place like that, you just can't really imagine what it's actually like.

There's a world of difference between a country ruled by laws in which there is some corruption, and a country that is ruled by corruption in which there are some laws.

People don't get speeding tickets for going with the flow of traffic.

And no, it really isn't unsafe to go at the speed limit. Driving at 20mph on a highway can cause problems, but going 10-15mph slower than traffic in the rightmost lane is not going to cause any accidents.

Unless you're black, or maybe also a muslim, or a sikh wearing a turban, or a native american. Unless the cop on that stretch has a quota to fill. Unless you're unlucky.

Power is just as capricious, wherever you are in the world. People that select to be in positions of power are rarely the kind of people who can be trusted to always execute that power honestly.

I see where the comment parent is coming from.

Or unless you are driving a fancier car than others, or at wrong time of day, or parked next to the wrong guy. Unless you're unlucky. However:

> People that select to be in positions of power are rarely the kind of people who can be trusted to always execute that power honestly.

I think this is an exaggeration. People that select to be in positions of power are not always the kind of people who can be trusted to always execute that power honestly.

The difference in degree of corruption in a country is roughly the same thing as the trustability of people in positions of power.

Oh yes they do. In Milwaukee, WI at the end of the month, you'll get a ticket for either going with the flow of traffic or driving below the flow of traffic (the speed limit).

The highway will be lined with cars being pulled over.

I don't understand why you're getting downvoted. Speeding is endemic in the US as well, and the penalties are onerous for pretty much everyone but the well-off. Speed limits should be raised to fit the speed everyone actually drives at, obviously it's not that unsafe, but no area has done that.

I think you bring up good points about the relative scariness of Western selective enforcement as compared to developing world systemic corruption. Seems like if you keep your head up, you can escape getting targeted by the corrupt status quo. But in the West, people seem to get caught up in political whirlwinds with frightening randomness. Some dude's carrying cash to complete a seemingly routine business transaction the same way everybody in his town's always done it, and gets targeted for asset forfeiture.

The scale of Western corruption can't rise to the level of the whole society, and that on the whole seems to make it worse rather than better when it actually surfaces.

> Speeding is endemic in the US as well, and the penalties are onerous for pretty much everyone but the well-off.

No, they're not. Perhaps in some states but not on average. I'm in Pennsylvania so can only use those numbers.[0] There is the base fine (which can be doubled if you're in a work zone or an area with posted signs to that effect) and surcharges.

  Fine (25-55mph/40-90km/hr zone): $45-95
  Fine (65 mph/105km/hr zone):     $44.50-102.50

  EMS Surcharge: $10
  JCP Surcharge: $10
  Court costs:   Varies, last ticket I got was in 2010 and I think it was $7.50
  MCARE:         $50 for speeding, additional surcharges for additional offenses (e.g. passing a stopped school bus)
So let's say you're going 100 mph (161 km/hr) through a construction zone. Personally I'd like to see your car impounded if you do this, but you're looking at a $275 ticket plus minimal court costs. Certainly under $300. Every ticket I've ever gotten has given me the option of paying over 12 months with no interest.

I don't mean any of this to minimize your comment regarding selective enforcement. I've passed police who were doing speed enforcement at 15+ over the limit and seen others pulled over; I've been pulled over when there were others readily available going faster than me.

[0] http://www.justdrivepa.org/Resources/TIPP%20Fine%20Card%20JA...

In Ontario going 161 km/h anywhere is automatically considered "stunt driving" and carries a $10,000 fine, roadside vehicle impound, license suspension, and up to 6 months in prison.

Edit: s/street racing/stunt driving/

I've heard of a concept of "criminal speeding" (e.g. going so fast they arrest you instead of give you a ticket) but it doesn't look like my state has such a law. However "Reckless Driving" seems to be much more lax and requires only "willful and wanton" disregard for the safety of others. $200 summary fine (again 2x in construction/posted areas).

Like most enforcement in the US, there seems to be a great deal of discretion in what the police officer can actually do to you, everything from a warning to a large ticket ($475 for my example w/ a reckless driving citation, which will also probably cause you to lose your car insurance).

As it should be. Penalties for speeding are way too lenient, and enforcement far too spotty.

Nah, you can do 100mph safely on the 407 all night. It's just straight, smooth, half-empty toll road.

Until the person in front of you isn't speeding and you rear end them.

It's not the same kind of unpredictability, but sometimes when I look at the West, it seems that we're getting there.

But why people complain, I wonder? Isn't endemic bribery a realization of the libertarian dream? People setting up to collect as much toll as they can from you while you voluntarily try to access a resource - that's literally the free market solution! /s

In India, I hated interaction with the police because they'd try to shake me down for all sorts of reasons, multiple times a month. In America, I have only ever interacted with a policeman thrice in three years, and on every occasion he or she asked me if I needed help.

One time I set off the fire alarm and they sent emergency services over. They came, investigated the situation, saw that I was just a terrible cook, gave me some advice and left.

If India had the same notifying fire alarms, everyone would have them disabled because the probability of having to pay a bribe would be exactly 1.

So, do you speed in Canada?

Everyone seems to go 10-20kmh over depending on the road, at least in southern Ontario. On the 407 it's closer to 30 over and if I stayed at 100 it'd be rather uncomfortable (and after being away for a while, I woulda sworn it was 120). At 50 they can roadside impound and suspend license.

The only point the GP has is that corruption is the oil of bureaucracy. In Guatemala, for instance, they started this whole anti-corruption drive a bit ago. Didn't really help; the president and vice president are now in jail for their part in a massive theft of taxes.

But for the regular people? Importing a container? Good luck. Before, you could pay the clerks to work overtime and move you to the top of the pile after 5pm. Now they've got all these annoying receipt systems so you have no way of doing this unless you're a serious player and turn a ton of people. Who wins here?

Efficient for you as you can easily (I presume) pay the bribes... but for 99% of people what impact does this have on their life, when they can also end up being forced to pay when they AREN'T breaking the law.

> I personally find it a lot less stressful than living in Canada where every time I see a cop I get a little adrenaline rush of fear.

Well are moving back to Vietnam and Romania to live? Most people living in Canada or US would have that freedom. Most people form Vietnam or Romania can't just pick up and move to Canada if they want to.

Have you considered not speeding? It also helps avoid the fines.

I was going to say that too, but in corrupt countries, you'll get fined for speeding whether you were speeding or not - and expected to bribe the 'officer' regardless. It's not paying a policeman something then and there that's the problem - for you it'd become the fine for speeding - but it's having to pay without having done anything wrong. It's the power abuse associated with it that's wrong.

This happened to me in Vietnam. A police officer pulled over me and a friend as we rode past, then came up with a story about us having 'incorrect papers'. Later found out from the owner of the hostel that the same thing had happened to most of his guests for the entire season!

While I can't say for sure, you probably did have incorrect papers. I drove the whole time there without proper registration or a valid license because it was basically impossible to obtain them as a foreigner. I tried my best and it just wasn't happening and the advice I got was to act dumb and pay off anyone who tried to stop me.

To ride in Vietnam you do need a Vietnamese drivers license, so he was not wrong.

True. But fortunately from that point of view the OP now appears to be in Canada.

There are traffic scenarios where it's too dangerous to stick with the legal speed limits.

I was about to downvote you, since I think this statemment is, well, moronic.

Instead I kindly ask you to elaborate on just one situation, where exceeding the speed limit avoids danger.

Edited to add : To be clear: Speeding up upon overtaking doesn't count. If you need to do that you should not have overtaken in the first place, since it was obviously dangerous.

If the posted speed limit is 55 and everyone but you is going 80, then exceeding the speed limit avoids danger. There's your situation.

[Of course, you'd never get a ticket in this situation, and I think there are even legal provisions regarding respecting the "flow of traffic" in some US states.]

> [Of course, you'd never get a ticket in this situation, and I think there are even legal provisions regarding respecting the "flow of traffic" in some US states.]

This is exactly how I got my first ticket. I was moving with the flow of traffic, which was going about 15mph over the 55mph speed limit on a busy four lane divided highway. Highway Patrol flew up out of nowhere, angrily berated me for five minutes, and gave me a speeding ticket.

Now I just go the speed limit. People cuss me out and flip me off, but that's preferable to paying several hundred dollars. (And for me, it turns out not to really be worth it anyway. Most places I go speeding saves me < 5 minutes, and I get much better gas mileage, up to 48mpg, accelerating slowly and not driving faster than 65mph.)

Can you, by the way, cite any state laws explicitly saying it is OK to exceed the posted speed limit if doing so is required to move with the flow of traffic? I have heard this claim a lot but I have never been able to find real proof of it. There are sometimes "flow of traffic" laws applicable if you're driving too far below the posted speed limit, which is assumed (wrongly) to be the maximum "normal and reasonable" speed of normal traffic, and there are laws against driving slowly in the left lanes, and sometimes laws that allow you to speed while passing on a two-lane road, but I have never seen one that was applicable to someone driving at or above the speed limit and would have allowed them to legally speed.

Just to be clear, don't try this in the UK. If everyone is going at 80, everyone will get a ticket, thanks to automated speed cameras.

Hypothetically, it it were true that going at 80 is safer because everyone else is going at 80, wouldn't you have to choose between a risk of paying a fine versus a risk of losing your life? That sounds messed up.

> Speeding up upon overtaking doesn't count. If you need to do that you should not have overtaken in the first place, since it was obviously dangerous.

No matter how fast a truck is driving, I don't want to be anywhere near it while driving my motorcycle. Those tires randomly explode (I've seen it happen multiple times) and when a piece hits you, you're dead. I pass them ASAP, no matter how fast I have to go to do it.

Safety in traffic depends, among other things, on the relative speed between you and the cars around you. When this relative speed gets out of a certain range, you and/or those around you are forced to make dangerous maneuvers increasing the risk of collision.

With this in mind, think about scenarios where the average speed is above the legal limit: highways, rural roads with no known speed cams, etc. Now imagine heavy traffic and only one participant slowing down to the legal limit.

Here's one US citizen's experience driving on highways in Italy, where I live, describing what safe driving looks like here: https://www.quora.com/Why-do-people-drive-above-the-speed-li...

Rural roads you have to be careful speeding because people walk on them and tractors drive on them, and sometimes there are horses. If you're driving the limit and there's a bunch of people behind you, either (a) they can deal with it or (b) you can pull over and let them pass.

Here's a pointer to a couple of engineering studies I found interesting, personally: https://www.motorists.org/blog/how-should-speed-limits-be-se...

This does not deserve to be downvoted. Driving too slow is as dangerous as driving to fast, or more dangerous.


I think it has likely been downvoted by people from countries that do not speed.

I have only ever seen Americans and Canadians talking about the necessity to speed to keep up with the flow of traffic (and they have a higher rate of fatal RTAs per 100,000 than most Western European countries – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_traffic-r... – Canada is close to Italy, a country that is well known in Western Europe for terrifying traffic, while America is closer to South American countries)

While driving too slow is as dangerous as driving too fast, it's not as dangerous as the Solomon curve suggests, according to the article you linked:

> Reporting on these results in 1971, academics West and Dunn confirmed the findings of Solomon and Cirillo,[11] but found that crashes involving turning vehicles accounted for 44 percent of all crashes observed in the study and that excluding these crashes from the analysis greatly attenuated the factors that created the U-shape of the Solomon curve.

The topic of this conversation also seems to oddly mirror the course of the story from the original article. Minor acts of breaking a just law, justified on an individual basis, lead to a society in which regularly breaking that law is accepted – and indeed enforced – by the state.

That is probably why people are downvoting your parent comment.

For the record I don't have the ability or the desire to have the ability to downvote.

> Italy, a country that is well known in Western Europe for terrifying traffic

Is it? The death toll is average to low compared to the rest of Europe: http://ec.europa.eu/transport/road_safety/pdf/gis/mapcare_fa...

And it's low compared to the rest of the world: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_traffic-r...

The death toll is definitely low compared to Eastern Europe. It is very very low compared with the rest of the world. However, in much of Western Europe it is still perceived as being a place where people drive dangerously.

The main reason for how people in the West of Europe seem to perceive Italian driving has traditionally been Rome: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/italy/31986...

My personal experience travelling in both Sicily and Rome was that people don't pay attention to lanes and don't care about traffic lights at all, and they're not afraid to drive quickly around tight corners and down narrow streets – this is not unique and is similar to how some areas of the UK drive, for example rural Essex and rural Wales have a lot of this.

Italy may have an unfair reputation as being a dangerous place to drive, but it does have that reputation in Western European countries.

I congratulate you on your relevant choice of username.

I am from a country where corruption is rampant. I don't think corruption is a cause, but an effect. You see certain economic schools of thought believe in the absolute power of the Market to solve issues. Corruption is the Free Market solution to economic inequality. In a society with very little opportunity for economic and social mobility and no faith in The State people will always have a market for alternative solutions to the mobility problem.

As in the article, for every engine, paid for by rich applicants, there was at least one(but probably upto 6 by my estimates) bogie, low paying applicants. Since the investigation will take years, by which time the evidence would be eroded and so would the faith in The State. Since India is growing economy with multitudes of social issues, the economic inequality would further increase inequality, creating more of a market for corruption.

>cause and effect

if it were that seperable

This is why frontiers are so important. Only on a frontier is it possible to basically nuke the past and build a new society that is (relatively speaking) free of this kind of meta-stable eternal corruption.

Once this kind of thing is established, it is game-theoretically very stable (tit for tat, etc.) and is virtually impossible to uproot without some kind of catastrophic purge or apocalyptic collapse.

This is one of the reasons top politicians are paid so well. We can complain about their salary all day long but they make important decisions and a higher salary directly impacts the effectiveness of a bribe.

Are you in the US? Even at the federal levels, politicians' salaries aren't particularly high, relative to what those same people could earn in the private sector.

Congressmen earn $174,000. That's not a huge amount for a group that largely consists of successful lawyers, with a smattering of doctors and other businessmen. Many of them are millionaires before they take office.

The governor of my state (Virginia) is paid $175,000. Again, pretty good money. But, the current governor, Terry McAuliffe, was a successful banker and real estate developer prior to entering politics.

And, as noted in a sibling comment, the real problem isn't corrupt politicians. Corrupt bureaucrats are a much worse problem for an average citizen's day to day life. And those bureaucrats are not paid anywhere near as well as the politicians.

McAuliffe was as DRC financier before he became a politician himself. He ran for governor for the prestige of the office rather than the money so it's not likely he'd risk the embarrassment a bribe could bring. Someone independently wealthy doesn't have much use for direct bribes (it still happens, but rarely).

In a corrupt system, being independently wealthy just means you require larger bribes. Corrupt officials dont demand bribes corrupt because they absolutely need the money, but because they want it and can get away with it.

Sorry, the idea of comparing their salaries to what they could supposedly earn outside of government is just wrong. First not all of may have had substantial jobs or education prior to running for office. Lastly, most of them become quite well off after leaving office from speaking fees if not retirement.

They are excessively paid relative to the average American and their salaries should be curtailed to that of average American's so there might be some incentive to improving that. People bemoan golden parachutes of some executives in the private world but would be aghast if they learned just how overpaid many state elected and appointed officials are and some even double dip.

Political office should be service, not a damn lottery winning

The practical outcome of that policy would be to lock out anyone below a certain income bracket from political office. Living as a politician can be expensive and lots of people will find it beyond their means. There is a reason it's forbidden for congressmen to forgo their salaries.

At the congressional & gubernatorial level (and even the mayors of big metros), you're just wrong.



Do not think politicians salaries impact corruption in any big way. As an simple exercise, compare what they spend on campaigns to the entire salary they'll receive on their term.

There are many factors, but the big ones are population acceptance and the risk of getting caught.

The problem is not corrupt politicians - they are for sale everywhere. The problem is acceptance of corrupt bureaucrats.

There are, in Mexico, 3,277 people employed by the federal government who earn more than 2 million pesos a year. That is well over $100K USD a year. This might not sound like that much in the U.S., but, for comparison, a teacher makes $7,812 USD in average for the whole year in Mexico, and someone making minimum wage would get $1,400 USD or so. We also have the fifth most expensive legislating body in the world.

In the absence of any negative repercussion for being caught, and in a culture that normalizes corruption, higher salaries don't make the majority of these people non-corrupt.

Economic inequality is both a cause and an effect of corruption. But it is not true that high wages for public servants are a vaccine against corruption.

This is exactly what i always thought. Many people always think that lower wages for politicians will solve anything ( because they are mostly jealous)

I don't think it does

I lived in Thailand when the now deposed Thaksin Shinawatras party Thai Rak Thai won the election in 2001. I remember many Thais saying he was the ideal PM because he was the richest man in Thailand and because he was the richest man, he would never be corrupted. Fast-forward five years and the military deposed him because of his corrupt politics.

As long as you have a salary you can support yourself and your family on, I don't think higher salary == less corruption. Au contraire, I believe that once you have a sufficiently high income/wealth it's very easy to start to disassociate with the "people" with an average (or lower) income/wealth. That disassociation can then easily lead to moral superiority, that you are above the law/morals of the common man.

"Corruption" had nothing to do with it, the military deposed Thaksin because his politics threatened the interests of the royalty/army axis that has ruled Thailand since approximately forever.

>Fast-forward five years and the military deposed him because of his corrupt politics.

Bullshit. The military deposed him because they were grabbing power and because they were worried about his close relationship with the crown prince.

Thaksin's power base lies in the rural poverty-stricken north. He was the first politician to actually help them. That's why he was so popular.

They all knew he was corrupt, but their choice was between corrupt who would help them and corrupt who would fuck them.

Thailand turned from a democracy into a dictatorship because of power hungry assholes. It had nothing to do with corruption.

Please, let's keep HN respectful and not devolve into reddit, even if you disagree strongly.

"This is one of the reasons top politicians are paid so well."

Really? That would be a fine reason, but it may have more to do with the amount of power and influence they wield, even over those who determine their salaries.

In Congress and my state, they control their own salary; however (in my state), the pay raise cannot take effect until after the next election, theoretically provided a buffer against last-minute or very large increases. I believe the same rule exists in Congress but I am not sure.

To be fair it's only a theory. I was told the same by a friend of mine who is a jurist regarding judges salaries that are high on purpose to prevent corruption. "That's the theory" he said. Western Europe.

I doubt it does much to prevent corruption. You see multi-billionaires working hard to influence tax laws to keep a few more percent of their income despite having more money than they could ever possibly spend.

I am pretty sure no matter how high the salary you can't prevent flattering the ego as a mean to corrupt someone: "It's not about the money, it's about who I am and I am important enough to them they need to corrupt me. They need me. They owe me now.". Or something along those lines.

So? The west just plays the euphemism treadmill and calls a bribe a donation. Police is corrupt, too, and they are bribed with a paycheck.

>It is not the ... crime ... I can handle

bs, corruption is a crime fwiw

I don't hate going to work, I don't mind going home either, it's just the time in between that gets me.

> It is hard for those in Western countries to imagine what it is like to live in a corrupt state like that.

Not that hard. Small time corruption might not be so pervasive, but there are judges who take bribes to send kids to private jails.

There is corruption all over the world, including in the US, yes. But the prevalence and severity of it in the US is much lower than in countries like India and Russia. There are some unethical, crooked judges in the US, but there are probably 10x as many in India.

There are. And there is news about them and people talk about.

The places I am talking about it would be national news if there was a judge who doesn't take bribes. So no, it is not even a close comparison.

I've come to the conclusion over the last several years and specifically after spending a bit of time in India, that corruption is the #1 challenge facing humanity.

In the past I believed that poverty was largely due to a lack of resources (food, housing, etc) but I've come to believe that corruption is actually the source of this "lack of resources" -- the resources are most likely not lacking at all, they are probably just being distributed in a massively improper way due to corruption.

When you see the amount of poverty on the streets of Mumbai in person and realize that the government is involved in just ONE scam with a value of up to 22 billion pounds, it really brings things into focus. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/nov/16/india-corruptio...

And parts of the developed world, like the US, are just as corrupt (or more corrupt) than India, only in different and potentially even more damaging ways, like having an election system captured by corporations.

Until corruption is tackled, I don't think we're going to solve issues like poverty, hunger, and climate change. But corruption can only thrive in the dark and my hope is that the internet will allow a light to be shined in the dark corners of both developed and developing nations.

Maybe the ultimate question we should ask is why individual people feel the need to accumulate enormous sums of wealth, at all. My opinion is that it is the result of deep-seated fears about "losing everything" and ending up impoverished. Until societies can guarantee EVERY citizen a right to food and shelter, regardless of the ability of the person to create income, the citizens of that society will manifest their fear in the form of hording and, sometimes, corruption.

I have no problem with people like Bill Gates earning vast amounts of money by adding value to the world, but we can allow individuals to accumulate that sort of wealth while still proving a safety net for every individual in society. Perhaps this safety net will assuage the fear that, I believe, ultimately inspires at least a good portion of corruption.

Despite all of humanity's achievements, we are still living like animals, ruled by fear, where the law of the jungle still reigns.

> And parts of the developed world, like the US, are just as corrupt (or more corrupt) than India, only in different and potentially even more damaging ways, like having an election system captured by corporations.

I'll just have to disagree. The one thing every single Brazilian comments after traveling to the US or Western Europe is how honest and rule-based everything is.

You do have a corruption problem in the US, and it seems to be growing. Just don't think it's as big as in the developing countries.

All of our politicians in the U.S. are for sale through perfectly legal means. What we don't tolerate is corruption in the bureaucracies that actually run the state day to day. This is the crucial difference.

Corruption also doesn't have to be about money. Access to power can also have a big payoff for a US politician. Someone with money wants something to be done; help a politician raise huge money to ensure they get elected, in return they get the office and the someone gets a friend in high places. With Citizens United its now easy to do.

very nicely written, thank you for that.

I tend to agree that insane drive to accumulate wealth just-to-be-covered ain't the most healthy drive for stable, equal society. It has positive effect of people trying really hard to succeed, giving their best, just to get a juicy slice of wealth, for whatever reasons. It has all kinds of negative effects too, which seem to accumulate as we see these days.

which is more beneficial for mankind in long term I have no clue - stable steady but probably slower development of mankind vs push for wealth which brings many innovations to society, with great inequalities arising (leading maybe to new cast system, which is a truly horrible thing)

I know I'm inserting an unrelated topic into the conversation but....

I absolutely agree with you, and this is why I think FOSS culture has taken off and built such effective tools. Sure, corruption can and does happen with FOSS, but it's hard to hide when the entire process is transparent. That forces you to do things the "right" way, rather than "in the dark"

This one reads like a Mystery novel, if not for the deaths of many people, it is utterly fascinating insight into Indian politics, power brokers and moneyed interests. The trail of death is unheard of, even though the trail of corruption is more or less accepted. There is no trust in the Police force there would be a thorough investigation and any high-profile case involves CBI, which is nominally independent and it self entangled in all kinds of Political games. India is a Democracy to an extent that there are elections and the change of guard is peaceful, outside of it, the many institutions are incompetent and are utterly undemocratic. 65 Years after Independence, people do not believe Police for a good reason. Police in India are thugs for the ruling party. The do not enforce law, but the wishes of people in power and that format goes up to the higher level, including CBI, Intelligence Wing, Enforcement Directorate etc. In this scenario, if nothing happened in 2013 when INC was in Power at the Center, nothing is going to happen with BJP in Power, the party of Shavraj(sic) the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh.

I am not short on India, but I am not long on it either. Its a country with potential to be great, but many of us know, will not be great in our lifetimes.

eh you are too pessimistic, like many comments in the thread. There are still many people in the system who work daily for the betterment of the country. There are concrete steps being taken to battle corruption. It is not black and white

Your comment is any thing but concrete. Please enlighten me, with what those concrete steps are that have made dent in the monumental corruption of India's Political and Bureaucratic classes.

Man you are presenting the problem in a quite hyped manner. If every state department is manipulated by ruling party then why not the Election Commission. The problem is in the system that has settled in the root of administration.The problem of bribing has become a custom as if it was a basic part in the functioning of various departments.

Reform in India is the hardest thing ever. Corruption is soaked in our veins. In some states a birth certificate itself is modified (to start school early). Almost every aspect of any government is scam ridden, at any given time there can be a multitude of scams in progress and eye-wash investigations as well.

The common man foots the bill, and pays blood money to survive. The recent floods in Chennai (a metropolitan city) was because of corruption and encroachment of lake beds, marshland, improper management of reservoirs, blocked canals, etc and lead to the death of an unknown number (~350) of individuals.

There was a huge anti-corruption drive a couple years back which culminated in a new political party (AAP) which won Delhi elections, and now they've been blocked from working because of ludicrous reasons.

The right-wing is alive and well, and any criticism/investigations of parties that are part of it is met with huge protests and name calling.

It gets really silly and petty, and one has to wonder if most of us are really educated (morally, ethically and in things that matter) other than being able to string together sentences in a foreign language or copy-pasting from elsewhere.

If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/05/15... http://goo.gl/bdvGlL

This sort of corruption is still running strong here in India. A few days ago an acquaintance of my father told him that he knows a guy who can get her daughter a government job for a fee of 8 lakhs (~$12,000). And that he would go for it, given he had this much money. The sentiment was that he treats this bribe as an investment, which can be recovered from the job salary in a couple years and is worth it.

Fun cultural note for those reading this who may not know: a "lakh" is just 100,000 of anything, in India, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. People do not speak or think in terms of "millions" regardless of the magnitude, it would be "20 lakh" not "2 million" even when spoken in an English sentence. You might sometimes hear "half a lakh" but less often "a quarter lakh" than you would "a quarter million."

Fun addendum to this cultural note: the fact that things are based in hundred thousands leads to weird comma structural in written numerals. http://www.fullstopindia.com/indian-number-system-made-easy/

For example:

1,00,000 = 1 lakh

1,05,000 = 1 lakh + 5,000 rupees = 105,000 rupees

According to your link, your first example should be 10 lakh

1 => one 10 => ten 100 => one hundred 1,000 => one thousand 10,000 => ten thousand 1,00,000 => one lakh 10,00,000 => ten lakh (one million)

this blocks a lot of economic growth because many people consider buying into a government job an investment...

Also that most of the people who buy their way into a government job are most probably incompetent. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy because the ones who themselves bought in their way using corruption are very much likely to repeat the same with others once they are in the government.

I grew up and spent most of my life in Madhya Pradesh. I know some of the people mentioned in the article. I never thought things would get out in the open, and arrests will be made. That was a good sign.

There is more to it. I doubt the practices will stop. The cases will be dismissed, and the accused will walk free soon.

Chief Minister's role in the scandal is downplayed.

Corruption in India is worse than what this article wants you to believe.

As an Indian I often wonder, the real question is not why India is so corrupt(esp. at the lower levels of bureaucracy), rather how come certain countries have zero corruption at those levels? Perhaps I'm too pessimistic about human nature.

Because corruption is a thing that enters from the top down. If the cadre is corrupt then corruption will be seen as 'ok'. If the cadre is incorruptible then they can make a demand of those below them to act in a similar way or be booted out. The change from a corrupt state to one that isn't takes multiple decades, it is not something you can do overnight and at any point in time the arrow can reverse. The same goes for states that have low corruption today, that is not a guarantee for low corruption in the future.

China is interesting in this respect, on the one hand corruption is rife, on the other it is nominally totally out of bounds and the punishments are severe. I don't understand how those can both be true at the same time without a huge amount of selective enforcement.

My experience with India to date has one of utter amazement at the brashness and the degree to which corruption has infused society there. I suspect that for India a part of it is that it has social classes that are very disjoint. This creates a very fertile growth medium for corruption because it puts a lot of small people in positions of relatively large amounts of power over the lives of others.

I think it's the other way round: corruption, or at least nepotism, is the natural state of man just as dictatorship is the natural state of government. It takes considerable effort and ideological groundwork to build anything else. Just as you can't airdrop democracy onto countries.

For example in the UK, if one were to write a history of corruption-fighting there would be three big strands since the 1500s. Religion: the replacement of a church that sold salvation with (sometimes extreme) Protestant moralism. Military: at one point commissions in the army were bought and sold. This practice was replaced with more meritocratic promotion in order to win wars. And financial: English law seems to be considered one of the world's fairest regimes for contract law, and is often used for contracts between non-English big companies.

I don't think this is universally true. I think corruption or some version of it tends to be more common nearer the top, but does not always filter down. When it filters down, that's when the whole system becomes corrupt and there are many degrees of corruption a system might have.

One interesting thing I saw in toy models is that a small number of incorruptible people (5% or less) can make it very dangerous to be corrupt. As corruption falls there's then a feedback spiral, because most people will report corruption if they're not corrupt themselves.

You definitely need a few people who are weird and unreasonable to start it off though. Have you seen the movie Serpico? I thought that gave a good portrayal of how odd and antisocial the people who cause that kind of change often are (and the real story was more so e.g. his marriage collapsed as part of the process). If we're going to be really speculative, maybe it takes an individualistic culture to even have that kind of personality?

Haven't seen the movie, but I'm not sure you need to be super weird to be that person. I believe the word you are looking for is integrity.

As a New Zealander, any form of corruption is unacceptable. It's just not in the DNA of being a good New Zealander to be corrupt. Therefore, there's great social pressure to not be corrupt. Being corrupt is not celebrated, and I wouldn't show off or discuss it here.

Everywhere in Northern Europe getting labelled as corrupt would be a huge stigma, too. Just not something that can be done.

This applies to direct corruption. There are different, structural kinds of corruption though, like "old boy networks" where business may get handled via personal relations. While still damaging for the society, it probably isn't even illegal in most cases.

It used to be the same here in Sweden but unfortunately it has started changing for the worse. It's mainly centered around higher up municipal government officials who take bribes to let certain companies win contracts for the municipality. While citizens have yet to bribe the officials we still suffer because of sub-standard products from/work done by companies that "win" the contracts.

This would be a good way to get rid of corrupt but it is going to take long time to get that culture

I spent my first 25 years in India and the next 15 in the US. Widespread corruption in India was one of the things I hated most. I think in the end it comes down to just social norm, peer pressure and the prevailing environment. There are kinds of behavior that would be completely unacceptable and looked down upon in India and there are other kinds of behavior that is unacceptable in the US. Corruption is one of the behaviors unacceptable in the US but prevalent in India - and people just learn from the environment they grow up in.

I think many people in India, who consider themselves to have morally 'good' - wouldn't bat an eyelid while offering bribes. They don't get push back from peers either. What irked in India is when you try to do the right thing - i.e. not take the corruption shortcut - my peers would tell me I'm stupid or naive or something to that effect. In the US if I say that I attempted corruption, my peers will probably tell me I'm morally depraved. So you need a critical mass of people that enforce and most people just follow along.

A true good at heart multi-billionaire CAN change India/ Indians and drive 1/5th of the humans to be good example of future world. Which will bring lot of stability to the world and make Africa and other poor countries to have belief in "good system". Indians are are very good at idolizing and following a person. Like Gandhi or today's Sachin or whoever. There is lot of people praying if god will send a person to change India. While corrupt to the core... A majority, i would say may be 70% (based on my village and relations) are willing to put up efforts to be completely not corrupt as long as justice and police system work, but now justice system is very questionable..so any multi billionaire or to be billionaire's via start-up , please consider donating money to this... with number of people in India and willingness to study... if you invest in changing this country you pretty much can change the world....otherwise we will continue to do BPO work and Rem Infra Mgmt work and support your business irrespective of what happens to us and our country....

What would they invest in?

I wish Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg would start sometjhing like an X-prize to reduce corruption. Lack of drinking water and malaria are just the symptoms. I grew up in India and am too familiar with this cancerous corruption that keeps third world countries firmly in the third world... :-(

Would have been nice, not gonna happen though. Just imagine the headlines about the American billionaires funding efforts to influence those poor countries political systems :)

There was similar scam in Turkey http://mobile.todayszaman.com/anasayfa_30-released-in-case-o...

The investigation still continues even today.

Oh, Today's Zaman is trying to cover up the real perpetrators.. The irony.

Rather surprising, I did hear about the scams in Indian education, but this beats it all. People dying because of a scam? That's pathetic.

People in India are killed for scams of far lesser magnitude. Being an Indian I sometimes feel really bad about what my country has become.

Do you feel like it is getting better or worse?

This is my belief. It was worse when Congress was in power. Now that Modi is in power, I'm hopeful India's state would improve.

But this goes without saying, I don't really know. No one really knows. Modi has committed a lot of atrocities during his term as a CM for Gujarath.

The only feeling that sticks with me is, fear/uncertainty of future.

Still not sure why I'm being down voted. I did provide some reasoning as to 'why' I'm being uncertain.

(To non-Indians reading the above comment: Congress is the name of a[1] political party in India, not a house of legislature. Seen lots of folks get tripped up by this.)

[1]: Well, many. There used to be one, now it has fragmented. But the one being talked about is the Indian National Congress.

As someone who doesn't know a lot about Indian politics, could you please tell me why there seems to be a large liberal crowd in India that's very anti-Modi? I heard recently Arundhati Roy returned her government honors, for example.

BJP is a right wing "Hindu" party with close ties to nationalist organizations like Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Shiv Sena. They have had a rather sordid history in the last couple of decades wrt religious violence - Gujarat Riots, Babri Masjid demolition etc.,

Recently, there have been some incidents which have resulted in communal/religious tensions flaring up

1. http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/india-divided-after-hindu-mob-lynch...

2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M._M._Kalburgi

India's intellectuals have started criticizing the Government for not speaking out against this violence. In fact, some BJP affiliated people have made some really controversial statements with regards to Muslims in India. Arundhati Roy is among a host of people who are returning their awards in protest of the Government's stance.

BJP is a very nataionalist party that has been accused (with some pretty strong evidence) of siring up sectarian violence.

And this is major riots with large numbers of deaths not just descrimination.

Arundathi Roy is anti-National. If you read any of her books she is absolutely anti-Hindu and mostly talks in favor of terrorists. She shares dias with Naxalities and Kashmiri Separatists. I wouldn't even call her an Indian. Read more about why here: https://in.news.yahoo.com/wonder-arundhati-roy-even-indian-a...

This liberal crowd is what we call "pseudo-liberal, pseudo-secular". It's all a pretense. These are stooges of the Indian National Congress who spread misinformation among the Indian public. They used divide and rule policy to divide communities among religious lines and then used the minorities for votebanks. India tolerated them for almost 60 years. This is the first time India elected a party apart from Congress with such a huge majority. So the liberal crowd is not really "large". They are few and on the payroll of Indian National Congress (because it was the INC which gave them the honors).

India during the rule of Indian National Congress was effectively put under a National Emergency under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi during the 70s (Read more about it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Emergency_(India)). The entire Media was censored, the democratically elected Opposition leaders thrown behind bars (with some who were even sent to gallows but narrowly missed it, some even died) and a mass-sterilization campaign was carried about by them on the Indian public. Can you imagine the Government barging into your house and sterilizing you forcibly so you can never pro-create? None of these so called "liberals" returned their awards and honors during that time. Not even when the same Indian National Congress committed genocide of the Sikhs in 1984 riots (Read about it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1984_anti-Sikh_riots). They did not do anything when radical Islamists butchered Kashmiri Pandits and drove them out of Kashmir (Read about it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kashmiri_Pandit#Exodus_from_Ka...). Where was this "liberal" crowd then?

However, only after 18 months of BJP coming to power, with Narendra Modi at the helm, they started this drama of "Intolerant India" all because the Bihar (Indian state) elections was underway. As soon as the election was over, they disappeared. Do you hear about any of these so called "liberals" giving away honors now? Nope. Why did this movement suddenly die out? Has India which was intolerant for these so called "liberals" for past 18 months suddenly become tolerant after the elections?

But things are changing now. We have a really strong Prime Minister who is focused on development and bettering India's infrastructure. We have normally stayed away from participating in Wars and always took a neutral stand. However, for the first time, India has taken a stand against ISIS by declaring that it is willing to fight under the UN flag (Read here: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/India-ready-for-ope...). This would never have happened if the Indian National Congress was at the helm of affairs as we have always refrained from military invasions abroad.

The heads of the Indian National Congress (Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi) on the other hand are facing serious corruption charges and will have to face court proceedings tomorrow (Read more about the case here: http://www.hindustantimes.com/india/bail-for-gandhis-tomorro...).

I tried my best to explain the Indian political situation from my point of view. Hope this helps give more clarity :)

Man, it's unfortunate that you have a plethora of answers with t=15 years.

India's improved tons.

I'm not as grey bearded as I should be, I remember the 1980s.

India has come a damn long way.

Politics has improved pretty significantly. "Booth capture" and "license raj" we're actual things, not the bogey men that most people blithely quote.

Vyapam is scary to me because it's a throw back to those times.

We've gone through three major insurgencies, and multiple terror organizations which had destabilized entire states.

What we seem to really have a glut of now is a lot of literate people, but with very little education. (Ie - ability to apply their knowledge in new and novel ways to new and novel situations + willingness to learn more in depth)

The economy has shifted dramatically since the 90s. I've seen a period where there was a wait for phone lines (and 7 digit numbers), to a period where we have more mobiles than people.

India is a marvelously and infuriatingly complex country, the fact that it hasn't imploded itself is step 1.

Its not fair to say, worse than before. The amount of money involved now a days in Politics is unheard of. People with political connections will get large loans from Publicly backed banks, with almost no collateral. So, is it bad from that stand point. India has made tremendous strides in other areas, including market economy, number of people lifted out of poverty etc. There are massive improvement and massive transgressions happening in parallel. The pollution has gotten worse but the salaries of people and disposal income has gotten better. Long story short, its a mixed bag. Politics in India are very much tribal, massive reliance on caste or religious identity followed by buying up or attempts to buy up voters from slums or who ever is economically backward, either through immediate gifts, like liquor, food packets etc or through promises of Government largess like free cable tv or free saris etc. The Political process in India has become crass and rely on power brokers and money brokers to create a political machine for winning and ruling. This is "a" monster that is taxing Indian people with perpetual corruption of worst form even from the highest of the elected offices.

It is mixed. On the one hand there are quite a bit of honest people and there are quite a lot of corrupt people. The problem is the amount of variables which are huge and how it has become a way of life.

That's debatable considering your current position in the society and your point of view.


What country is this?

When the selection process is too competitive, it begins to select wrong people.

The right way is probably a test one should merely pass and then lottery. Guarantees that you bring some genuinely worthy people onboard and not just really well connected or spearheaded.

A lottery would make it even easier to game/cheat. Corruption needs to be rooted out from the top with a transparent vigilance process, just changing the system would just shuffle who gets the bribe money.

How do you think real lotteries work? Everybody has incentive to pocket the money but that is prevented.

Maybe real lotteries don't work in India. How could you tell?

> How do you think real lotteries work?

In India or in the US?

Most of the corruption done by people in India are driven ultimately by politicians (via bureaucrats). These politicians need the money to fund their election which is about giving it to the voters (yes, money is transferred to the illiterate folks during elections). Without money it is impossible to get elected to even a small position. So it indirectly hinges on the illiteracy levels. If people are educated enough to earn their own living without going for freebies and money which again is a Government budget and policy matter which is controlled by politicians. It is a vicious cycle.

The same happens in Brazil (and Venezuela). It's exactly how Lula, Rousseff and Chavez were elected.

I think it's incorrect to label it an "exam" scam. It's really a scam about recruitment to government jobs. India has this weird system where almost every good government job has an exam that you're supposed to take to get that job. These exams are held once a year or so and all that matters is your performance in that exam and maybe an interview. This makes it impossible for anyone from private industry to take such a job. So what you get instead is a bunch of lifers who continue the cycle of corruption.

I think this sums it up "Vyapam appears to be a vast societal swindle – one that reveals the hollowness at the heart of practically every Indian state institution: inadequate schools, a crushing shortage of meaningful jobs, a corrupt government, a cynical middle class happy to cheat the system to aid their own children, a compromised and inept police force and a judiciary incapable of enforcing its laws."

a milder example in the west: Atlanta cheating scandal https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlanta_Public_Schools_cheat...

Maybe the nsa can help... This is at least a little terror.

Americans need to be much more worried about corruption than India. At least it is illegal in India.

Corruption is illegal in America as well. Not all versions of corruption but the majority is not legal nor is it tolerated, in general. There is still old-boy corruption but I'm not sure that doesn't happen anywhere.

Things like lobbying are illegal in India.

Who designs websites like that? Page devotes about 5% of its area to the story; the rest is banners, and scrolling pgup/pgdn don't work.

Wondering whether it is becoming easier to publish long articles as opposed to shorter and concise

This is part of the "The Long Read" series, The Guardian publishes one every weekday: http://www.theguardian.com/news/series/the-long-read

It's certainly much easier to publish long, detailed reads online than in newspapers, but I haven't seen any real increase in the numbers.

certainly is a way to set yourself apart from non-professional blogs. I would have no difficulty reading this story in a print newspaper but on my laptop screen I find it hard on the eyes for some reason.

I'm wondering if print media will find a niche and continue to exist as a medium for long form journalism since I know I'm not the only one who suffers from this type of eye fatigue.

> Nothing else matters – not your grades over 12 years of school, nor any hobbies, interests or transformative life experiences.

Good. The US habit of putting bullshit criteria in the admission score is just a way to subjectively select the desired candidates regardless of their merit. And there's no objective way to grade essays, extracurricular activities, obligatory volunteering, interviews, teacher recommendations, being liked by the admission officers, being in a hip minority, etc.

You sound a bit harsh, but as someone not from the US, I was surprised that these things count when it comes to getting an admission. Does any particular hobby makes someone a better person? Or a 20-year old without a transformative life experience isn't capable of achiveing the same things? These factors are way to subjective.

My guess is that the US used to have objective criteria but because University admissions are so competitive everyone studied just for the test and Universities filled with people who were very good at "book-learning" at the expense of everything else.

They wanted students to be more varied, more well-rounded individuals instead of robots who memorize books. So naturally, they started testing for holistic well-roundedness and Goodhart's law did the rest.

I always thought it was so they could reject undesirables (wrong ancestry and such) without having to give the real reason.

I heard something similar too, that Harvard felt they were admitting too many Jews so they started using other criteria instead of just the written tests for admission.

Now they are probably using the subjective tests to attract disadvantaged minorities.

I also thought it was the Jews, I was just a little too timid to say so directly!

It doesn't make someone a better person, but it does make someone a well-rounded person and I think there's ample evidence to support that well-rounded people often become better employees. If university admissions were purely exam-based, the quality of US universities would instantly decrease, as would their international appeal.

How do you decide what subset of applicants get to enjoy that high quality education that makes them "well-rounded"? This is the problem we're discussing, not if an Ivy League education is good for you.

Can't expect much from a British newspaper. No country is best its just the media gimmick that creates the perception. Till yesterday people were hating Russia and Putin, now all know who created ISIS. I just won’t go into numbers of rapes, kidnaps, murders, racism that happens in Britain (proportion wise for dummies).

Deflection isn't really a solution. Never be dismissive, there's always some truth (the death tally in this case) we can get better.

Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact