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Monday, December 01, 2008

The Indian police who failed to shoot: a lesson in the consequences of corruption

What accounts for those Indian policemen who could've shot the terrorists but kept their heads down instead?

India is a very corrupt country, similar to Mexico, where public servants like policeman regularly extract bribes from the citizenry, to the point where the police come to see themselves as working on a fee-for-service basis. When an Indian policeman is confronted with the opportunity to shoot a terrorist at some risk to himself, the question must automatically run through his head: what's in this for me? What extra payment am I going to get for risking my neck? What is the fee for this service?

The fee is zero. No bribe will be paid, and so the service goes undelivered.

Neo-neocon has some good thoughts on the need of police to be willing to incur civilian casualties in situations where terrorists are attacking civilians, but she gives Mumbai's corrupt policemen far too much credit to imagine that they kept their heads down out of this kind of consideration.

The standard of our own emergency response is amazingly high, as exemplified by the heroic New York City police and fire response to 9/11, rushing into harm's way in the face of overwhelming risk and in some cases almost certain death. Such extraordinary professionalism is a rare achievement. In contrast, the police response of allies like India will remain woefully inadequate until they are able to overcome their deeply entrenched cultures of corruption.

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