One of the variations of George Santyana’s words are “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to relive it”
Let me tell you a story of a tiny country called Georgia. (Please note that this recantation of events are based upon online articles and and my interpretations)
I do apologize if the story seems long, but for those who read to the end, I think you may find it very interesting.
Under the Soviet regime, the province of Georgia was ridden with corruption, grey and black markets. Eduard Shevardnadze was appointed to the First Secretary ship of the Georgian Communist Party by the Soviet government to fight this grey and black-market capitalism.
Despite his best efforts, he failed in his quest but quite a few decisive actions were taken like purging of the utterly corrupt border guards. Under his regime Georgia was perhaps the only part of the Soviet Union which did not experience Economic stagnation.
On April 9, 1991 when Georgia broke away from the Soviet Union, they installed a Presidential system much like ours.
The newly independent Republic of Georgia elected as its first president a leader of the national-liberational movement, Zviad Gamsakhurdia, a famous scientist and writer.
However, Gamsakhurdia's rule ended abruptly in January 1992 when he was deposed in a bloody coup d'état led by the self same Shevardnadze.
At the same time, however, Georgia still suffered badly from the effects of crime and rampant corruption, often perpetrated by well-connected officials and politicians.
According to the results of the World Bank survey, the percentage of public officials believed to have purchased their position was close to 50 percent for customs inspectors, approximately 40 percent for tax inspectors and ordinary police officials. The price for a job in the police is said to have been ranging from $2,000-$20,000, depending on the profitability of the position for sale.
More than one-third of the offices of natural resource licensers, judges, investigators and prosecutors were also believed to have been purchased.Shevardnadze's closest advisers, including several members of his family, exerted disproportionate economic power.
It was estimated by outside observers that Shevardnadze's inner circle controlled as much as 70 per cent of the economy:
- His wife edited and wrote for one of the country's major newspapers,
- his daughter was the director of a television film studio
- and her husband founded one of the country's leading mobile phone networks (with American funding).
While Shevardnadze himself was not a conspicuous profiteer, he was accused by many Georgians of shielding corrupt supporters and using his powers of patronage to shore up his own position. Georgia acquired an unenviable reputation as one of the world's most corrupt countries.
In 2003, are per Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) Georgia stood 124th (1 being the least) (Its interesting to note that India was at 85 that year)
By this time the general public had had enough. Out of the milieu rose a new voice Mikheil Saakashvili. A man wearing a simple shirt and leather jacket against the tailored suits of the parliament members and the President.
He urged the public to protest in a peaceful non violent manner. Under his banner a wild protest broke out under the name "Kmara" ("Enough!").
Their symbol of protest was the presentation of a rose. The cries rose higher and higher, with more and more people joining in till a tidal wave swept the country.
The last bastion to fall was the refusal of the army to obey his orders and instead side with their fellow countrymen. Shevardnadze had no option but to hand over the Presidency under the guise of trying to save bloodshed.
In 2013 Georgia is 55 on the CPI (India is 94).
History for all those who know how to read it history ,shows that once corruption reaches a certain level, the pot will boil over, all it needs is the right man to lead it. “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to relive it”
Now will someone tell me why the history of Georgia sounds so familiar in my ears ?