It is a perhaps unfortunate sign of its developmental status that India features large as a setting for debates on corruption. In a recent "Lunch with the FT" feature, economist Jagdish Bhagwati explains how Chinese-style corruption is preferable to Indian-style corruption. In effect, the former is efficiency-promoting whereas the latter is not":
I ask [Bhagwati] if he thinks the country can get back on track after several mediocre years. Once there was an idea, now mostly forgotten, that the “tortoise” India could eventually overtake the “hare” – China. “That’s an exaggeration, I think,” [Bhagwati] says. A crucial difference between the two countries is the type of corruption they have. India’s is classic “rent-seeking”, where people jostle to grab a cut of existing wealth. “The Chinese have what I call profit-sharing corruption”: the Communist party puts a straw into the milkshake so “they have an interest in having the milkshake grow larger”.You can certainly have a debate about whether "developmental corruption" is an oxymoron or otherwise. Those who espouse a "zero tolerance" approach--typically Americans and their acolytes at development banks and other international organizations--would agree. However, a more pragmatic view looks at how corruption relates to how conflicting interests are resolved. If corruption does not engender additional economic activity in a zero-sum sort of setting, then it is not beneficial in the sense most understand it. This is the Indian scenario according to Bhagwati: little growth and much fighting over what resources already exist. However, there is a possibility--admittedly rarer--in which corruption occurs after economic growth has been generated in the absence of significant spoils to quarrel over beforehand. This is the Chinese scenario.