Corruption through our Culture (based on Geert Hofstede Analysis)

About: Geert Hofstede (click here)

an influential Dutch social psychologist and anthropologist.[1] He is a well-known pioneer in his research of cross-cultural groups and organizations. He has played a major role in developing a systematic framework for assessing and differentiating national cultures and organizational cultures. His most notable work has been in developing the cultural dimensions theory. His studies demonstrated that there are national and regional cultural groups that influence behavior of societies and organizations, and that these are persistent over time. He is also an author of several books including Culture's Consequences[2] and Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind, co-authored with his son Gert Jan Hofstede.

His analysis about India (click here)
India has Power- Distance (PDI) as the highest Hofstede Dimension for the culture, with a ranking of 77 compared to a world average of 56.5

India's Long Term Orientation (LTO) Dimension rank is 61, with the world average at 48. A higher LTO score can be indicative of a culture that is perseverant and parsimonious

India has Masculinity as the third highest ranking Hofstede Dimension at 56, with the world average just slightly lower at 51. The higher the country ranks in this Dimension, the greater the gap between values of men and women.

India's lowest ranking Dimension is Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI) at 40, compared to the world average of 65. On the lower end of this ranking, the culture may be more open to unstructured ideas and situations. The population may have fewer rules and regulations with which to attempt control of every unknown and unexpected event or situation, as is the case in high Uncertainty Avoidance countries.

Individualism (IDV) . ( India rates low on IDV.) on the one side versus its opposite, collectivism, that is the degree to which individuals are inte-grated into groups. On the individualist side we find societies in which the ties between individuals are loose: everyone is expected to look after him/herself and his/her immediate family. On the collectivist side, we find societies in which people from birth onwards are integrated into strong, cohesive in-groups, often extended families (with uncles, aunts and grandparents) which continue protecting them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty. The word 'collectivism' in this sense has no political meaning: it refers to the group, not to the state. Again, the issue addressed by this dimension is an extremely fundamental one, regarding all societies in the world.

(the following is my opinion based on the above study)

Corruption through our Culture
based on Geert Hofstede Analysis

1. INDIA-- high power-distance society (ranking of 77, compared with world average of 56.5)
• People expect some authority from the leaders  Condition (1)
• Authority and power are understood to be one and the same.
• People expect leader to exercise control.
• People like to crib about in-efficiency of the leader.
• Elections are a farce means to appoint a leader.
• Once the leader is appointed, the next step is----> back to condition 1
• Group or Collective approach are preferred over individual approach.

1.a. Leaders expect to enjoy power to ensure and confirm their authority as leaders. People want it to be so.
• If the leader does not exercise power, or refrains from power-wielding, he is treated as 'in-efficient'.
• A leader confirms of his power by availing himself of special facilities, such as : a red beacon car, special treatment in train/ plane or other such public places. He can also choose to grant this special privilege to any person of his choice.
• The most preferred type of power is Coercive Power, (which is physical force/ or bullying/ pressuring).
• Next in choice of power is 'rewarding power', which means Incentives-- maybe also financial ones.
• Thereafter , referent power: which is putting someone as 'liked' and someone as 'disliked'.
Legitimate power comes after that, which is about choice of law-originated force.
Expert power is last and least preferred. This is also called Knowledge power.
• The reason for it being least preferred is that Specialist can always be overthrown by another counter-specialist.
• It is here that to make a choice between two differing types of specialist ,we make use of above three powers.
• Leaders, in themselves being averse to knowledge, which is often school learning kind, prefer the other kinds of power.

2. Power and Authority in Philosophy/ Political Science/ and Public Administration are two different things, but culturally seen as one.
• There can be person with Coercive power, but with no authority, e.g Someone with good muscle strength, or lots of henchmen
• And there can be someone with good legal authority but no power. E.g. an honest kind of police man, but weak- physically and support –wise.

3. India is a cultural potpourri.
• What this means is that we are a mix of two big religious ideologies-- hindus and muslims.
• And we are the one nation with hindu majority.
Islamic world, e.g Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, are High power distance societies.
• That means the leader is much revered and above the common man.
Islamic world, is also high uncertainty-avoidance nation.
• That means there are more stringent regulations and there strict compliance.
Islamic countries like Indonesia and Pakistan can be clubbed up with India-type countries only, because they are High power-distance, but low-uncertainty avoidance nations.
• Politically also, these countries align closer to India, by virtue of being ‘Republican-democracies’, and not Monarchies
Hindus may or may not be high-power distance, as Hindu gods have less chosen power, e.g. Ram, Krishna, Shankar.
• But Hindu society is high-power distance through its caste system. Shudra was not allowed to touch or sit among Brahmins and Kshatriyas.

4. India is a low uncertainty-avoidance nation (Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI) at 40, compared to the world average of 65).
• That means our people are fate/destiny believers.
• therefore, regulations are not so strictly complied with. We accept failures to comply with law acceptable due to Destiny-ingredient in it. This acceptance is our social norm.
• Another parameter is Masculinity. What this means is that the roles/conduct/dressing/etiquettes for the two genders are Vastly different in Indian culture. Male is seen as more powerful. More corruption can be associated with male person than with females.

5. As a rule , More Regulations implies More Corruption.

6. European nations, which are rated lowest on corruption, are mostly Low power-distance, high-uncertainty avoidance nations.
• What this means is that there the leaders are not much distanced from the followers and , ideally there should be more rules.
• But since 'More rules implies more corruption', they reduce regulations by choosing Expert Power above rest of the kinds of power described above.
• Experts and the value system cause rules to encompass more varieties in it, instead of regulation-controlling something.

7. The other kind of model also prevailing is , High-Power distance, medium uncertainty-avoidance countries, e.g. China , Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, etc.
• They are not less in corruption, unless of course, the small size helps them keep in check.
• Singapore and Japan are high-uncertainty avoidance country.
• China and Taiwan are low-uncertainty avoidance country. Every year , many people die for reasons such as mine-collapse, earthquakes, floods, etc.
• The other most important factor which plays up bigger is Long-Term Orientation-- which is loyalty with a group or organisation.
• In all these countries, dependence on Expert Power is definitely better than ours and therefore corruption is also lower than ours.

How much can the corruption pervade in a society?
• Corruption is an act of human choice, and not a god's cruelty upon human beings.
Nobody would want to corruption to an extent when the essential commodities, e.g. Medicines become counterfeit for live-saving job.
• Neither would people want corruption to an extent that if an accident happen, the mechanism to provide relief and support has failed away.
• this is a very clear hint having corruption-free institutions such as Police ,Medical services, teaching places for colleges and schools; and Armed forces.
But this does not mean that people do not choose corruption at all.
Corruption has advantages, which makes it choicely. Examples are:
• When there is lack of knowledge of law or technical matters, corruption can help cross the barriers.
• Corruption helps in overcoming formation of a bigger situation by fast and quick disposal on the spot. Reward power-- for those who want to buy services/ conveniences.
• Corruption helps in financial gains, when the salary is low to help self and family
• Corruption is not identifiable from application of Reward Power, or Coercive Power or Referrent Power-- the most preferred types of power in Indian Society.
• Leaders want this power for confirmation of themselves as leaders.
• the followers help dispense the power for sake of loyalty/ protection.

Then , who wants an Anti-corruption Institution??
• The demand for anti-corruption institution is for these reasons:
• People want Anti-corruption institution for the purpose of creating another coercive power organization, to contest against one coercive power.
• People want to put the frustration and envy-due-to-loss into action against the winning group.
• People do not want Anti-corruption for sincere reasons such as cleansing of society, because they still depend on stolen electric power, pirated CDs, Cheap cars and bikes, a tripling ride, and so on and so forth.
Some demand for a sincere anti-corruption can be coming only from Academicians and Philosophers.
• Reason being that, although with Corruption also the society can be kept running, unless of course the three red reasons above.
• The reason for sincere choice from Academicians -- Economist, socialist,- is based on the study that:
• Corruption SLOWS DOWN economic growth and WEAKENS the government institutions.
• Note that, study report do NOT say Corruption doing complete stopping or uprooting of government institutions,
• And the reasons for that is the three red reasons above, again.
• The clash between Corruption and Anti-corruption, therefore, in its practical view is a clash of Power 'A' versus Power 'B'.
• To make a culture a low-power distance society is more herculean task.

Then, What are the working limitations of Policy Makers on Anti-Corruption ?
• Changing the attitude of people is very difficult, that is, making us low-power distance is not easy.
• Policy-makers should begin from themselves, by training people to harness the Expert Power.
• This will involve sending the government policy related matter for a referral to Colleges and Universities.
• Other government departments should follow suit.
• Since, corruption is not easy to be identifiable from Referral Power , Coercive Power, and Reward power.
a training module be incorporated for imparting case-by-case knowledge on these events,
• Such a professional course should be made mandatory for all Govt people right from lowest grade of people, and should have limited validity for a renewed talk.
• It be honored that people are busy earning bread and butter, both with corruption and without corruption.
• Corruption agenda should less, if not least, disturb their bread and butter.
• The socio-economic benefit angle of Corruption means a right-round chain of changing what first??
• Corruption elimination or improvement in facilities and salaries??
• Government should choose improvement in facilities and salaries--simple that Charity begins at home.


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  2. Most of the communities in India (such as Bengali), are succumbed in 'Culture of Poverty'(a theory introduced by an American anthropologist Oscar Lewis), irrespective of class or economic strata, lives in pavement or apartment. Nobody is at all ashamed of the deep-rooted corruption, decaying general quality of life, worst Politico-administrative system, weak mother language, continuous absorption of common space (mental as well as physical, both). We are becoming fathers & mothers only by self-procreation, mindlessly & blindfold. Simply depriving their(the children) fundamental rights of a decent, caring society, fearless & dignified living. Do not ever look for any other positive alternative behaviour (values) to perform human way of parenthood, i.e. deliberately co-parenting of those children those are born out of ignorance, real poverty. All of us are being driven only by the very animal instinct. If the Bengali people ever be able to bring that genuine freedom (from vicious cycle of 'poverty') in their own life/attitude, involve themselves in 'Production of Space'(Henri Lefebvre), at least initiate a movement by heart, decent & dedicated Politics will definitely come up. - Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay, 16/4, Girish Banerjee Lane, Howrah-711101.


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