The Cost of Corruption


Dear Ezra and Lian,

There’s a great story about King Midas. He was granted his wish. Everything that he would touch, would turn to gold. He was so excited. He touched everything his gaze fell on. Very quickly he became the wealthiest king around. His house was gold, his furniture was gold. Then he tried to eat, but his food turned to gold. His only daughter, whom he loved more than anything in this world came into his throne room. As they hugged, the princess was turned into a statue of gold. In so doing, she was lost to him forever. Greed had taken away the one thing he truly valued.

So it is with corruption. In the beginning, it seems great. You are becoming richer and richer. You are getting more wealth than you ever imagined possible. You are making your family and friends happy with all the gold in your life. Then everything you touch dies or is lost to you.

To live among the corrupt elite of Aizawl, Mizoram means walking beside death. Everything they touch, dies.  Every couple of weeks, there is another funeral to attend. Drug overdoses, deaths from cancer and heart disease due to addictions, suicides, accidental death; these all happen at abnormally high rates. Alcoholism and drug abuse is rampant. The sexual abuse of girls is epidemic. Mothers tell their daughters, “Don’t complain, it happened to us all.” The relationships between husbands and wives; parents and children are broken down. Why would they flee from a life of comfort, wealth and servants? Yet, there are many who are desperate to escape the “golden touch”. This elite thinks this level of dysfunction is normal.

Throughout Mizoram men with letters behind their names; IAS, IPS, IFS, BSc, MDiv, etc. Impress their cousins and their clan. They get sent to the capital or even out of state to run things. There, they become immersed in a culture that has nothing to do with Mizoram or Tlawmngaihga. Sure they speak Mizo at home and wear traditional clothing during kuts, but they are aliens. They go to church, but they don’t worship God. They worship money. The curse in their hand, strangely almost never can affect themselves. Its evil power mostly affects those around them. It destroys those whom they love.

The churches of Mizoram have become inextricably linked to this corruption. They endorse fake Christians as suitable political candidates. The police and judges get paid off to never investigate or convict. As result, nothing ever gets proven in court. Family and friends never blow the whistle. Without 100% verifiable proof, The Church silences critics of business people and government.  When this endemic criminal activity is eventually exposed, it will empty the pews. Just as the Roman Catholic Church’s cover up of child abuse is probably the single greatest reason for declining church attendance in North America, so too will the Mizoram Church suffer from their unwitting assistance in covering up corruption.

This corruption concentrates wealth in a small elite, mostly in Aizawl. This eliminates employment opportunities for university and college graduates. It has completely warped the Mizoram economy. The chief aim of the economy is to not to produce wealth or provide needed services. Rather it is to capture in India, the highest per capita transfer of wealth from New Delhi to Aizawl. Monies designated for the public good, get diverted, sometimes as high as 80% to the pockets of government officials and business people. Building a road, running a hospital or ensuring the reliability of the electrical supply grid are woefully under-funded due to the corruption. Honest businesses fail, poor people remain unhealthy and die, the free flow of goods is impaired; in short everyone in the state suffers due to this corruption.

Above all, those who suffer most are those closest to the perpetrators of corruption. They are also the ones most likely to cover it up. I want neither to be true for you. If my letters do nothing more than prevent those 2 things, it will be enough.