One of the pleasures of being in India is reading the newspaper. While they did report the attack on the ghat in Varanasi earlier this week, mostly they report about corruption, which seems to be rampant, well known, and mostly ignored, except by the newspaper. Here are a few tidbits from the last couple of days I just can't resist sharing with you. Truly, I am not making this up, and several items are right out of Slumdog Millionaire.
- Villagers who are jubilant about getting 24/7 power for the past couple of weeks fear they will be back in the dark after local elections. Reliable power would allow them to harvest a second, summer crop. But they are afraid to make that investment because they will suffer a financial loss if the power is curtailed after the election, which has happened in the past.
- The principal of a Catholic girls school ordered about 50 students to clean wooden tables and benches they had allegedly defaced. But instead of giving them cleaning liquids, the girls were provided with concentrated nitric acid and small cloths. Students were burnt within seconds and admitted to a hospital. They may have severe and permanent injuries. The school would not permit the girls to tell their parents what had happened for hours. The administrator of the Archdiocese of Hyderabad has denied that the incident occurred.
- A former state chief minister and his cronies pocketed 60 million rupees, which his son is trying to turn into political power by using it to set up a new party.
- Fake Naxalites (Communists I think) have been extorting money and killing people with weapons procured in Bihar. I guess they thought revolutionaries had a good thing going.
- Two students drowned in a cesspool caused by deep mining in the area.
- The new chair of rehabilitation centers in the state plans to tackle organized beggary, which is run by goons in collusion with law enforcement. Gang leaders pay beggars daily wages and receive the day's collection. They operate in - you guessed it - railroad stations, traffic junctions, temples, and markets. Existing rehabilitation centers are being used by people from well to do families. His goal is to eradicate beggary. Good luck.
- It has been discovered that millions are being misappropriated each month by 6,000 welfare hostels that inflate student strength in order to collect extra meal expenses. Meanwhile, the food is of poor quality and hostel maintenance is unsatisfactory.
- 21 teachers have been dismissed for failing to show up at work for more than a year without good cause or permission.
- The health department has ordered compulsory retirement for the president of the employees' association, who was found guilty of misappropriating money meant for life saving drugs.