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Of MPs, fudged expenses and what India spends on them
The handsome Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme seems inviolable. But when he was West Bengal's vigilance commissioner after retiring as foreign secretary, Subimal Dutt of the ICS described how even a small and simple charge like the Vivekananda Bridge's toll fees were stolen.

He lamented that the ingenuity needed for the operation was not put to constructive use. Dutt's report used the phrase "speed money" which, he said, had become a way of life.

I don't suppose even our most enterprising entrepreneurs could have made their fortunes without courting key politicians.

Globalisation has increased the scope for lucrative politics. Indigenous business houses, multinationals and even foreign governments need friends in high places. A word in the right quarter makes all the difference.

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Photograph: B Mathur/Reuters
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