Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Curse

Lately there has been some punditry about how we’ve been inflicted by the curse of oil. A more sober assessment of the situation would easily reveal that we actually suffer from the curse of corruption and abuse of power.

It is true that many countries have been “cursed” with an abundance of oil. But on closer examination, the oil rich countries around that world where there is instability, conflict, wars, and political oppression is due not to the oil itself – but the blatant failures of its politicians.

We’re actually only recently coming to recognize and appreciate the gravity of our real curse: the curse of corruption and abuse of power. It is true that oil (or even other forms of precious resources) have been the pretext for many a dastardly deeds. Politicians have been able to finance their pep projects, dole out lucrative contracts to friends and family as if it was their natural-born right to squander the nation’s resources.

Indeed, some are only now waking up to the reality that the kind of corruption and abuse of power we’ve witnessed thus far is fast leading us down the path of becoming another Zimbabwe. It has even become somewhat fashionable to invoke the Zimbabwe analogy when describing our predicament. Well, if you’d been listening (and reading), I’ve been saying this for quite some time now! It’s nice to see that others are catching on to the gravity of our dilemma.

Of course the parallels now being drawn with Zimbabwe is not due to its reputation for being inflicted by the curse of oil; rather it is precisely due to the corruption and abuse of power that has essentially rendered the country bankrupt and on the verge of a total economic collapse.

Lest we forget, there have actually been countries where the bountiful natural resources have been duly utilized for promoting the well-being of the nation and its people as a whole. In fact, even countries without an abundance of precious natural wealth have been able to raise the profile of the nation and the quality of life of its most impoverished.

But alas, we’ve been cursed. We’ve been cursed with nepotism, corruption, abuse of power, and the kind of shallowness of our political establishment that befits a despotic and defunct country like Zimbabwe.

In this season of Christmas, perhaps it’s worth remembering that being bestowed with gifts is not a curse. The curse lies in abusing the gift.

Merry Christmas!

G. Krishnan