Sunday, February 3, 2013

No Exceptions

"But for the poor of a country where corruption thieved a great deal of opportunity, corruption was one of the genuine opportunities that remained."

Katherine Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Live, death, and hope in a Mumbai Undercity.

Corruption and political machines are not new to the growth of major cities and the plight of immigrants in these cities. I was struck by Boo's portrayal of NGOs as players in this corruption--or at least as innocent, passive, ineffective bystanders. No one in her book held NGOs in much regard, except as an occasional source of resources and contracts that could be redirected for personal use. There are certainly parallels in U.S. urban poverty efforts, more in the past than today, I suspect. I was surprised and disappointed that Boo didn't find any exceptions to this unfortunate rule.

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