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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Corruption in India and Laws against It

Let us consider the following instances:

1. As my father and I await our turn to pay for our purchases at a local Mother Dairy outlet, a man arrives on a motorcycle and buys a few litres of milk. He proceeds to empty it into a number of canisters attached to his vehicle and then asks for a bucket full of water to dilute the milk with. He, apparently, is a milkman, off to his daily rounds to supply the liquid to several households, probably telling them tall tales of cows that he rears in a pen at home for good measure.

2. When my mother visits a friend's house, the lady's young grand-daughter runs up to greet her, gives her a tight hug and enquires whether she has brought along any sweets. Upon finding out that she has not, the child's facial expression immediately changes to a rather rude one and she turns around and leaves. The same sequence is repeated on several subsequent occasions, until my mother relents and does take along some toffees.

3. The cashier at a local pathology lab tells me that she does not have the exact amount of change and tells me to collect the balance the next day, along with the report of the medical test for which I have just submitted a sample. When I do, she looks crestfallen, even though she does return the money. The same sequence is repeated a few months later.

4. As it continues to rain incessantly for several hours, a group of children from a nearby slum block the drains  on the road that runs beside our house. Then, they offer to push any car that gets stalled due to water entering the exhaust pipe or another part, for a suitable fee. They do roaring 'business' until my mother realises what they are up to and decides to shoo them away. They are back a few days later, when it rains again.

5. A puncture repair-man scatters a pack of iron nails at a crossing, about a kilometre from where he has set up shop, to help bring in more clients.

6. A neighbour keeps his house centrally air-conditioned using free electricity supply obtained through greasing the palms of a few officials of the distribution company, which, incidentally, was privatised a few years ago.

I am sure that most Indians come across many such examples almost every day, i.e., when they are not the examples themselves, of course. The question that arises then, at least in my mind, is whether a Lokpal Bill or any other such piece of legislation can help eliminate corruption in a country where it is so deeply engrained in the culture now.


Ashar said...

did not see the corruption part in the mother-child-toffee story.
Other than that- I think being anti-corruption and proAnna is the latest fad the media has successfully fed us and we have bought it. Like the whole candle light think that got started after Amir Khan's RDB. It takes real guts and patience to actually start with yourself. Corruption is more of a reflection of the demand than of the supply of it. We ask for it and we get it. We can chose to not want it and we will be corruption free.

Sidhusaaheb said...

The link there is that the child has to be bribed with a toffee, in order to receive affection. It is on account of, obviously, what the child has absorbed from the environment at home or the way she is being brought up. I think it would be safe to presume that she doesn't do anything upon merely being asked/requested/cajoled to do so, unless bribed. So, her training in corruption has begun rather early.

One has to start with one's own self, absolutely. I doubt if many of the people who showed up to support Anna Hazare have never been corrupt or are incorruptible.

Anonymous said...

Although I would be annoyed if any of the examples detailed happened to me, i can't help but feel some admiration for the slum kids who've probably taken some initiative in trying to survive. Perhaps some of the others in the examples are just doing the same?
It doesn't make it right,of course and there is an obvious difference between survival and greed.

It happens to a certain extent in probably all countries, ( there are always those who will try to rip off their customers ), however it identifies a huge problem in government and economy where corruption is rife and integrated into daily life in such a way where it is difficult to trust anyone.

Sidhusaaheb said...

Every one in all the examples mentioned here can survive through honest means. Many other like them do. Greed is the only motivating factor.

The slum kids could've embarked on an enterprise based on honest means rather than deliberately creating difficulties for others and then taking advantage of them.

The 'survival' argument is little more than a lame excuse and a 'slap on the face' for the others, who choose to be honest in every aspect of their lives.

Sidhusaaheb said...

Incorruptible people form a small minority in India that is on the 'endangered species list'.


Fariha Akhtar said...

Things not too different on other side of the border. Living to see the day when any bill changes our mindsets :)