Like all bloggers, its only a matter of time before I write about the MSM! In this case, I'd like to complement the MSM. Personally, I think the two recent sting operations are fantastic. First, the expose on questions-for-cash in parliament. The second one highlighted corruption in the local area development funds allocated to each member of parliament. Such operations not only help apprehend corrupt individuals, but make others think twice before going down this path.
I am a firm believer in the power of a free market. I see this as an indirect effect of free-market-competition in reducing corruption. Liberalize media. Lots of competition. Each channel is forced to innovate. Adopts technology (spycams) and new ideas (sting ops). Gains viewership and ad revenues. Laughs all the way to the stock market. I havent done the math, but would guess that sting ops yield better returns than buying expensive cricket or movie rights. Nothing like making money, with reduced corruption as a side-effect.
Notice that I havent mentioned anything on morals, good-evil, values, ethics and the like. Like everyone else, I cherish all of these, but realize that on their own, these have done zilch in reducing corruption on a large scale. My problem with corruption as much economic as it is moral. Corruption ranks very high on my list of factors hindering India's development. I see this as a tax, that's literally charged as a % of GDP by various government functionaries, eating into funds allocated for infrastructure, rural development, health, education, you-name-it. Even an incremental reduction in this tax will directly add several percentage points to GDP.
I realize that markets are imperfect. We'll always have market failures and distortions. In my own home state, the leading TV channels are owned by political parties. Similar to pathogens, politicians are quick to develop immunity and workarounds against any medicine. They'll get smarter at outwitting spycams. Thanks to the free market, the media will match politicians stride-for-stride, in coming up with better ways of generating scoops. Bribe-takers will have to be more alert than before. The heightened threat of exposure will make people hesitate. I am not naive enough to think that a few spycams will eliminate bribes. However, on the margin, we'll see a decline in corruption. The additional 5% freed up for its intended purpose can make a significant difference.
There are the usual arguments on ethics and privacy, against such sting operations. While these are valid in their own right, I couldnt care less if the outcome benefits efficiency and development!