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On ‘Negative Externality’

In November 2013, Valdis Dombrovski, the then Prime Minister of Latvia, resigned after accepting political responsibility for the collapse of a supermarket roof in the capital city of Riga that had claimed 54 lives. Few can expect this sort of gesture from a politician in India and other Third World countries, where corruption is a common practice. Unethical activities exist at different levels in these countries. It has become a norm that ministers, politicians and Government officials take advantage of their Power and Position, if they get the right opportunity to do so.

Corruption has rocked the education sector of eastern Indian Province of West Bengal, as the Enforcement Directorate (ED) of India recently recovered millions in currency notes from the residences of a close associate of former Education Minister of West Bengal Partha Chatterjee. The ED, after arresting Chatterjee due to his alleged involvement in a school jobs-related scam in West Bengal after the cash haul at his aide’s residences, has claimed that Chatterjee was Education Minister of the province when the alleged scam took place. Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, sacked Chatterjee as her Industry and Commerce Minister, presumably in order to save her face. Although the education scam has rocked the Provincial Politics, the Chief Minister and her Government have refused to take any responsibility for the same.

Chief Minister Banerjee (L) with Partha Chatterjee

According to Sociologists, a little bit of corruption is acceptable in various spheres of a developing society. In Economics, it is called petty corruption, which can also be considered as rational or reasonable error. Some believe that petty corruption speeds up activities, as well as the economy! However, the majority of experts are of the opinion that Please-money (or bribe) cannot be a necessity to lead a comfortable life. Still, economists have claimed that retail corruption is good for society.

Interestingly, the issue of corruption is not so straightforward. It is widely believed that any form of corruption, big or small, is like a cancerous cell, which keeps spreading. If it cannot be eradicated in time, then death becomes inevitable for the patient. In the case of society, corruption is like a cancerous cell.

An analysis of corruption related to the recruitment of teachers in primary and secondary schools in West Bengal, its consequences, and overall political corruption from an economic perspective is essential.

ED seizes INR 200 million from residences of Partha Chatterjee’s aide

Kaushik Basu, an Indian economist and former Chief Economist of the World Bank, had mentioned that school teachers in South Korea were paid more than most other countries in the world. Hence, good students become teachers, and the benefits are passed on to the next generation. The fact that benefits from one generation pass to the next generation is called Positive Externality in Economics.

The Government of West Bengal had established the School Service Commission on April 1, 1997 in order to recruit teachers in schools in a transparent manner. However, it seems that the Provincial Government, led by Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress Party, has decided to destroy the education system in West Bengal in an attempt to keep the younger generations uneducated. It would ultimately help Banerjee rule the province without facing any opposition. Authoritarian leaders have always targetted educational institutions and teachers to silence critical thinking and crush academic freedom across the globe, and West Bengal is no exception to this. With this, politicians, with vested interests, are denying the students from enjoying benefits of Positive Externality. Once, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela had reportedly said: “Destroying any nation does not require the use of atomic bombs or the use of long range missiles. It only requires lowering the quality of education and allowing cheating in the examinations by the students.

Courtesy: Hindustan Times

Nepotism and corruption have induced Negative Externalities, instead of Positive Externalities, in the eastern Indian province. It would certainly destroy the future of generations after generations. Furthermore, the corrupt Government (of West Bengal) has caused the loss of honour of all the teachers employed during its regime (or since 2011). Perhaps, people of West Bengal would soon realise the impact of the damage done by their Government, and punish the ruling party for destroying the public education system.

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