Haan, goonda hai, magar hamara goonda hai

In India it’s common for politicians to have criminal cases against them. Why do voters vote for criminals?

One compelling explanation provided by political scientist Milan Vaishnav is that voters often care less about their represntative’s ability to deliver broad-based development or draft good laws, and more about the effectiveness at helping them access limited stated resources. So, a corrupt or crime-accused politician may be seen as effective because he can deliver benefits for his community.

…Colloquially, voters are known to say: Haan, goonda hai, magar hamara goonda hai (Yes, he is a gangster, but he is our gangster.)

From Karthik Muralidharan’s great book on improving state capacity in a failing state.

Addendum: See also my post There Is No Such Thing as Development Economics.



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