Great picture from Ladakh by watchsmart.
I just read that 29% of MPs in India have criminal charges. Some have been convicted once, but in India you can keep serving as long as the case is under appeal. Sri Lanka doesn’t have similar RTI or disclosure laws, but off the top of my head I can name one Minister charged with murder in India (Douglas Devananda) and one that should be charged for a recent shoot out (Duminda Silva).
In India as here, politics can sink to the lowest common denominator fast – violence and thuggery:
Members of the current Parliament (29 percent) are facing serious criminal charges including murder, arson, rape, kidnapping, dacoity and illegal possession of arms. In the current Bihar legislature, the ratio is 44 percent and in the recently elected West Bengal Assembly, it is 35.1 percent. (Tehelka)
The Daily Beast also reported similar numbers in 2009:
The disclosures seemed to have little impact on the 2004 election: 128 of the 543 winners had faced criminal charges, including 84 cases of murder, 17 cases of robbery and 28 cases of theft and extortion. Many face multiple criminal counts—including one M.P. who faces 17 separate murder charges—and no major party is beyond reproach. Because the disclosure requirement is new, it’s impossible to plot a trend line, but most experts say the situation is deteriorating. “The general opinion is that the influence of criminals in politics is steadily increasing,” says Himanshu Jha of the National Social Watch Coalition.
Indian law bars convicted criminals, not alleged criminals, from running for office, but a loophole allows even convicts to continue in politics as long as the case is under appeal. In India, that can mean 25 or 30 years, the course of an entire career. (Daily Beast)
Politics generally evolves from Kings, to lords, to merchants, to mafia, and then eventually down to the people. The hope is that South Asian politicians will one day be actually convicted for criminality, and have the dignity to resign even at the hint. That, or course, requires pressure from voters and citizens and, I think, a serious upgrade to modern democracy.