In an article arguing why Kolkata is best placed to be India’s “best city” in another 20 years, Aakar Patel (I’ve started looking forward to his columns in Mint Lounge) mentions that there isn’t much corruption in the governments in Bengal (at both the center and city level). I don’t know the reasoning for this, but I wonder if this is primarily responsible for the long run that the Communists had at the helm in that state.
I had argued in a not-so-recent piece in Pragati that big governments tend to be bad governments . I had argued that big government means more ways in which government employees can seek rents, and hence one way of reducing corruption is by reducing the size of the government. Now, assume that for some magical reason, a certain section of the population is sincere and incorruptible. In that case, big government need not be bad government. In other words, people don’t really resent the presence of government everywhere since they don’t see any rent seeking by the government officers. And since they are not unhappy with the size of the government, they don’t mind voting in every time the communists, who will keep the big government!
So I wonder if it is the incorruptibility of the Bengali (for whatever reason; I’m drawing this inference from Patel’s article) that has led to the long communist rule there. Incidentally, the one time the government was seen to be corrupt (in discretionary land allotments in favour of the Tatas, Salim Group, etc.) it wasn’t voted back to power!