Steal a little, but don’t loot – is this minister simply telling the truth about India’s politicians?

A minister in India’s most populous and politically crucial state, Uttar Pradesh, has said bureaucrats can steal a little as long as they work hard – sparking national outcry in a country whose ruling class has long been mired in corruption scandals.

If you work hard, and put your heart and soul into it … then you are allowed to steal some,” Shivpal Singh Yadav told a gathering of local officials in comments caught on camera. “But don’t be a bandit.”

The comments on Thursday were caught by a local TV camera and then played on newscasts across the country. Yadav, a minister for public works who belongs to the state’s ruling Samajwadi Party, quickly sought to control the damage, calling a news conference to explain that the comments had been taken out of context and that he had been discussing how to combat corruption…

Uh-huh. Corruption obviously was the topic.

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