I was thinking about fairness. It’s just that I’ve been reading volume 1 of Cassell’s ‘History of India’ by James Grant. To be fair it really ought to be entitled ‘The History of the British in India’ but that’s beside the point. It was published in 1898, this is now, and that was then.
But it is interesting to read it with modern eyes. To see the protagonists struggling with problems that we think are uniquely ours.
One issue they had was how to deal with religious Zealotry and Fanaticism. We might think that organisations like Boko Haram in Nigeria or Isis in Syria are a product of our time. Actually what is a product of our time is that there is a mass media telling us about them. In the eighteenth century Warran Hastings in India had to cope with the Sannyasi and Fakir Rebellion. There’s an interesting short paper you can download about these happy laughing people at http://www.muslimsocieties.org/Vol6_2/Sannyasi_and_Fakir_Rebellion.pdf
They happily combined religious Zealotry and trade, also supporting themselves through mercenary service, widespread plundering and running protection rackets.
Back in those politically incorrect days the authorities worked out that the best way to deal was these people was to judge them and react to them by the way they acted. If they came as peace loving holy men, then you could treat them with the respect due to peace loving holy men (or at least ignore them as not really your problem.) If they came as murdering thugs, well you just dealt with them as with any other murdering thugs.
Generally this seemed to work. Indeed it was quite popular because the people who really suffer from the attentions of the zealots are always the locals who live there. They are the usual victims.
Another interesting thing you come across in the ‘History of India’ is the widespread rampant corruption. Grant does point out that this is the way the locals always acted, but it comes across that he somehow felt that officers of the Crown and the East India Company ought to have known better.
The problem with corruption is that it is insidious and you have to stamp it out immediately before it gets a hold. And if it has got a hold then it has to be rooted out.
That’s why I think that it was so important that we jailed politicians in the ‘Expenses Scandal’. Politicians and their ilk develop a sense of entitlement and lose touch with us mere mortals. They lose touch with what we wee folk think of as ‘fair.’
But we’re seeing corruption spreading further. We’ve seen tax officials, policemen, prison officers and others arrested after taking bribes from journalists trying to get stories.
And at this point we find ourselves in a dilemma. Journalists shouldn’t encourage corruption, and should be censured for doing so, but there again, if it wasn’t from the journalists, we’d never have heard about such things as the ‘Expenses Scandal’ in the first place. The tax official who takes a bribe from a journalist could take one from someone she’s investigating next.
Perhaps we ought to allow Journalists of offer bribes? Just jail anybody who accepts them.