Indian Minister OKs ‘a Little Stealing’ by Staff

Posted August 10th, 2012 at 1:25 pm (UTC-5)
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A state government minister in India who says bureaucrats can “steal a little” as long as they work hard has sparked a national outcry.

Shivpal Singh Yadav is public works minister in Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state. Video from a meeting closed to the press caught him telling government workers they can steal, but “should not behave like bandits.”

India has seen its fair share of corruption scandals, so Yadav's comments brought a quick and angry public reaction.

The minister summoned reporters to a news conference Friday where he denounced the media for joining the closed meeting, which about tackling corruption, and for taking his words out of context.

Yadav said he has retracted the comments he made on Thursday. Speaking in Hindi, he told reporters he meant to say too many official regulations and restrictions will prompt government workers to “steal,” either by accepting bribes or outright theft.

Yadav said, “We continue to impose restrictions and never tolerate corruption. We can give you this in writing.”

The public workers minister, a member of the regional Samadjwadi Party, is the uncle of Uttar Pradesh's Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.

Broadcast of his remarks on Thursday recalled the massive protests last year, when millions of Indians took to the streets to protest against government corruption.