Q: Do you think that's why there has been a sort of odd lack of corporate criticism? That there is a lot of talk of corruption but not about the companies and businesses who were paying the bribes?
A: Absolutely. Each one of us knows that corporate corruption in India is monumental. The media never talks about corporate corruption. We've had a thousand exposes against politicians in last 20 years, you can’t name me 10 exposes that the media has done against corporations. Because corporations pay for our lives, they pay for our advertising, they pay our salaries. So we genuflect to corporations.
Q: For the over a decade we've been talking optimism, especialy in the media...
A: For 12 years, and at every forum, I have said that this whole India Shining story is a lot of bullshit. We are a country with great potential, great possibility and we are a country on the move. But we are very far from becoming this great shining superpower. And to even pursue that is an idiocy on the part of Indians.
We have more poor people in India than the entire population of Africa. We have the highest infant mortality rate in the world. We have more malnutrition among children under the age of five, ten times more than China. So where do these absurd fantasies come from?
These fantasies are middle class fantasies. What the middle class really needs to do is to actually start seeing what it doesn’t see. The extremely destitute and desolate hinterland that lies beyond and think about how you’re going to fix that.
Q: But what about the future, when you look at the next 10-15 years?
A: The jury is out on the future. The future will shape itself as all futures do: partially through [human] intent and partially through the interplay of [larger] national and global forces. You can't read it. What you can worry about is the intent, which is the part you control, And the intent has to be to bring down the inequality levels in this country.
You can have a million Anna Hazares, you will have rampant corruption in India because we are such an unequal society. You can check any society in the world and check the corruption levels. You will find a direct co-relation between in equality and corruption. And you are talking about a country where the inequality levels are mind-boggling.
Q: The argument against inequality has been losing ground. Do you see any hope that its going to regain ground?
A: That's where the intent comes in, if we lose that intent then we are in trouble. That idea of national purpose is in the constitution, it's in the writings of all the founding fathers. What we seek to become and do. We have to at all times hold the constitution and the founding vision as sacred because that’s what holds together this very disparate, discreet and complex country. We must be very careful to not do anything that will undermine the constitution of India because if the constitution goes, then this whole project will tank.