Saturday, October 15, 2011


I guess the title of this new article of mine will startle you. To write something justifying and supporting corruption, especially at this point of time when the nation is going gaga about a bill that would potentially stop corruption, looks odd and out of place. However the purpose of article is not what you may be guessing that I am being sarcastic about corruption. I am indeed justifying and supporting corruption. I really feel that the right way is the corrupt way.
Days ago, I met an old school friend of mine whose name I would rather hide in due respect to his privacy. He used be very hard-working since his childhood and was decent in his studies. His dad was a farmer and his mom worked as a maid before she died days before his tenth examination. He did reasonably well in his tenth, got admitted in a govt. college, passed his twelfth and got admitted into a college to do his B.Sc. Meanwhile his dad passed away as well leaving him nothing but a house with a broken roof and a number of loans. It helped him that he got a scholarship from the government. He taught a few school students after his regular classes to feed and fund for the education of his younger brother who was in the fifth standard. But life took an ugly turn for him as the entire India joined the fight to make the nation corruption free. The government officials who earlier worked once on being offered bribes decided to lie low till the corruption-free craze went out of the heads of the common man. The third installment of the scholarship was due in a few months when all this started. He had to get signatures of approval from government officials so that he could get his renewal. What used to take him two days and a hundred fifty rupees to get a signature now became impossible to obtain even when he agreed to double the amount. At the end he couldn’t get the signatures necessary to get his renewal and he couldn’t get readmitted for his final year of study. More agony came his way when the parents of the students he taught relieved him of his duties and he couldn’t get new students as it lowered their self-esteem to have for their children a tutor who was a twelfth pass and would never be a graduate. His brother too dropped out of school and both now work as daily labourers. A boy who could have one day become a bright scholar thus lost his bread and studies thanks to the anti-corruption fight.
This is unfortunately the fact of India which many of us tend to ignore. Not just this but I can give you a number of examples which will give you an idea of what many a common man of India experience every day of his life, who are not well-to-do unlike many of us who are ready to get into a crusade against corruption. A corruption free India would sure be good to have if and only if a number of things change before it.
On any random day, ask a little 4 or 5-yr old child what he would become in life. He would reply he would become a doctor or an engineer and now that the National Law schools and good management schools have come out, some would say that want to be advocates or managers. Why doesn’t anyone want to be a policeman, why not a sweeper, why not a clerk, why not a peon, why not a vendor? He has no idea what these people do but he knows his aim in life because these are taught by their parents that they are important powerful and wealthy people and that they would be loved if they could become one of this. This is where our problem starts. Look into your families, the visit of wealthy relative calls for a big party and special attendance while the visit of a poor relative would call for your family members to gather around him and express their sympathies. This is what the little child sees around him and soon he begins to dream of being like the rich relative and earn respect. These creation of classes in the societies or in our families need to stop.
Once you grow a little old, slowly reality dawns on you and you start realizing that being rich is not so easy. All cannot become doctors or engineers or lawyers or managers. And while some resign to their fate, some decided to fight it out and earn a place in the society. Some decide to go for business. They pay bribes in a dozen offices, get a thousand clearances and permits, take loans and start their respective businesses. Some flourish and get them the status they always dreamt of. Some pay a suitable bribe in some office and become teachers in schools and likewise. No doubt if corruption stops the people would be able to get their work done without paying those bribes, thus saving them some money. But also it would be impossible to get their work done. The anti-corruption law doesn’t also bring about an efficiency law that this work has to be completed within a specific number of days. I asked a relative of mine why she was paying a bribe of ten thousand rupees just to get the pension bills passed? She replied “I go to the capital city, stay in a hotel and then the officer would make me run from office to office, then a number of days he would say he is busy with something else and call me the next day and after a month I would finally get the bills passed. I would spend around fifteen thousand in the hotel, seven to ten thousand on the food, and another two thousand on the travel from one part of the city to another and then after all the hard work, I would one day get it. Why not pay it once and he does everything for me. He saves me both money and hard-work.” What she said were her fears to get the bills passed for which she readily paid the bribes will be the scenario tomorrow when corruption stops. People from an important or so called higher class or rich families always get a preference in whatever they do. Like it to me fourteen days and twenty visits and I still failed to obtain my Permanent Residence Certificate (PRC) and it took my dad an hour to go to the office and get it. My dad didn’t pay any bribe but because he has a bigger name than me and is known to the people, it was easily done. All people doesn’t have a dad who is known to the people in the government offices and for them corruption is necessary and the only path.
Today to have a business, we need a number of permits, a number of government clearances and lots more apart from the loans. These things were brought into the system by the British so that the Indians could not do big businesses without their knowledge and was rather a measure of suppressing the Indian men from becoming powerful. But the sad fact is that even after 60 years of freedom, these rules exist. When a person is doing a rightful business, why does he need these thousand permissions and permits? Why can’t he just open shop and do his business. If there are irregularities, shouldn’t he be punished anyway no matter he has his licenses, permits and clearances or not. When some industrialists from a not so rich or high-class background opened their businesses, they had to face a number of struggles and bribe higher authorities, government officials, etc to ensure that they get the permits, while the other sons of rich already established businessman got them easily without much difficulty. Had he not bribed them we probably would have never had many a industry which India boasts of today.
Before the people join in these revolutions against corruption and others, I would like to remind you certain facts from history. Mahatma Gandhi became the father of the nation and got recognized for his part in the freedom struggle, so did Mr. Nehru and some others but along with them, many more Indians participated in the freedom struggle and gave sacrifices whose names we don’t even know. How many of you outside of Bengal heard of Surya Sen before the movie ‘Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Se’ released, how many of you know Kanaklata and Mukunda Kakati from Assam and how many of you know Parbati Giri from Orissa? They were also brave freedom fighters and had contributed to the Indian freedom. There are still some more freedom fighters whose names even I don’t know, never heard or forgot even if I heard. Yes that they didn’t become famous has nothing to do with my article, but I am pointing this out to highlight the fact we Indians are emotion driven rather than logic driven. We blindly follow whatever we hear and see. All it takes to bring an Indian revolution is a dynamic speaker and some wonder words. Most of the people who start a revolution are people who have something to sustain themselves even if their revolutions fail and they don’t become heroes. The people who lose are the common man who follow them blindly and give the revolution their all and when it fails so do they and if it succeeds, they still have the same life they had before the revolution. Apart from a freedom fighter quota for their children and grandchildren and a small pension and a felicitation on every Independence Day, the freedom fighters didn’t get much after Indian independence nor did those thousands of crusaders in various parts of India for various issues get much after their demands were fulfilled. The power has always been with the rich and the powerful and the common man has been the silent sufferer whether he supports the revolution or not. Life remains same for him.
A corruption-free India is a distant dream we would all like to have but before it the mentality of the Indian man needs to change, the existence of class needs to be done away with, efficiency of the employees at the work place needs to be ensured and freedom to do business and other work without the government interference need to be ensured. Corruption-free India without these changes will only make the common man suffer more. If these changes cannot be brought, I would rather say that THE RIGHT WAY IS THE CORRUPT WAY.