India's Mood Darkens As Corruption Undermines Nation's Self-Confidence

03/10/2011 10:00 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Simon Denyer Washington Post

NEW DELHI - Just a few months ago, India was preening itself in the global spotlight. World leaders were queuing up to visit, and President Obama famously declared that the country was not simply emerging: It had "emerged."

Yet the elation the nation felt then was short-lived. With India's pride buffeted on a daily basis by tales of collusion between politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen and reports of billions of dollars lost to flagrant corruption, the mood among the nation's middle class is distinctly crestfallen.

India is experiencing what some people are calling "a reality check," or what business tycoon-turned-independent member of Parliament Rajeev Chandrasekhar sees as a "psychological crisis of confidence."

"In a sense, we had gotten caught up with the rhetoric and hype about our imminent superpower-dom," the 46-year-old former telecom entrepreneur said in an interview in his office in the heart of New Delhi. "People stopped looking at the system, which still needs a lot of work."

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