Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Endorsing corrupt practices???


The TV is full of news about corruptions and scams. A survey conducted by the news channel CNN-IBN points out that politicians and bureaucrats are mainly responsible for the present situation. I, for one, strongly believe that a situation, good or bad, takes a while to develop and take shape and if it were not for the indifference shown by the common man, no one, however highly placed, could have got away with being part of a multi - crore scam. So in a way I am as responsible as the scamsters for the situation.

Long back, when I had just taken admission in a local college to do my masters, I was told that one of my class mates had perhaps tampered with her B. Sc. Results. Those were days when results were announced in local news papers and according to the news paper the girl had obtained a second division but her mark sheet indicated that she had first division marks. She could not have otherwise got admitted to the master’s program since the cut off marks for the year was 62.5 and our HOD being a very strict person would not have allowed her entry. I was about 12 to 14 years older than my class mates and having worked in a college for nearly 5 years I knew that very often due to printing mistakes the results announced in newspapers are often incorrect and I said as much to my class mates. Just then the girl in question arrived and when confronted she openly said that her father being an IAS officer was in a position to influence people and she had indeed been favored. Had the rest of us been in her position we might have done the same. It happened all the time and her father in turn would oblige people with favors when his turn came. I was too shocked to respond. The girl however did not continue for long. She married a man in the administrative services and left within months. I can only make guesses regarding the favors her children might have obtained along the way since they had not only a father but also a grand father lobbying for favors on their behalf. Not that I could have done much but the least I could have done was to have voiced my protest/opinion in the matter. But I did not. I felt that she would not understand since her upbringing was different. She was brought up to believe that she was entitled to certain favors by virtue of her dad’s position.

We later had a student whose dad was a senior professor in a reputed college. The girl was bright enough to obtain a first division by her own efforts. But her brother was an IAS topper and had a brilliant academic record. She was under tremendous pressure from her family to top the batch. Her dad would ring up evaluators and examiners and casually pass on her roll number to them. However, the examiners were not influenced and she did not top the class let alone the entire batch in her undergrad examination. She went on to do her masters and was caught cheating on the final day of the university examination and was debarred. She later got married and left the town. If her father had not interfered she would have managed to pass with good marks. But the man wanted to flaunt her as being outstanding and she ended up being disgraced and debarred. I wonder why we could never bring ourselves to tell the father that he ought to leave her alone. He was a very senior academician and a good teacher. But is there any rule that says that his daughter had to be the best? We found excuses to remain silent and our respect for a senior colleague was just one of them.

Can we blame our politicians and others in influential positions for being corrupt? Are we not endorsing the practice by our silence? Do we not want to have it easy? Are we not suggesting to our youth that greasing palms and skipping the queue once in a way is okay. “Who has the time?…………” is the usual refrain. We catch hold of agents who in turn bribe dealing assistants to get forms submitted or for files to be moved from table to table.

What then is the solution? Frankly I wouldn’t know. I end with a story about the HOD of our PG department. He was a principled man and stood in a queue to submit his tax return form. He saw people paying the clerk Rs. 2/- each while submitting the form and ventured to ask why the money was being collected when his turn came. The clerk looked up and said “please wait I’ll let you know.” He put his form aside and went on to collect other forms. Finally after making him stand in the scorching sun for nearly 2 hours and after the last person left the man gave him the acknowledgement slip and said-

“Log apni khushi se diye aur hum liye. Apko koi taklif hai kya?”

(People gave me money of their own accord and I accepted it from them. Does this bother you in any way?)

This happened some 30 years back. No one knew why they had to pay the clerk. They paid him just because others were paying him and thought that it was perhaps expected of them. Like all other aspects of life corruption too has become part of our lives. They day it affects our dignity self respect it will probably die a natural death.

12 comments:

Stray said...

You're absolutely right, HHG - we do endorse corruption in all sorts of ways. And I do agree that we each need to ensure we are not silent in the face of corrupt practices. Unfortunately, merely breaking one's silence is proving not to be enough, going by the meager 'progress' made by our domestic mass grassroots movements - whether violent (eg:- Maoists) or non-violent (eg:- NBA).

I believe that, in the case of India, whilst corruption stems from individual greed and ambition, it is reinforced by our caste-driven and feudal history. I suspect that unless and until we learn to respect and live in harmony with one another irrespective of our humanly-conjured differences, a whole host of Indians will continue to be intolerant, which will drive them to differentiate themselves from one another... by hook, crook, disrespect or disharmony.

Anonymous said...

I sound hopeless when I say this - but we can never end corruption in India. We, Indians have sold our souls. When it comes to money, Indians will go any length to get it. Fear of truth or sins or dharma simply does not exist in India.

Ugich Konitari said...

HHG,

Have a look at this

http://thistimethattime.blogspot.com/2010/11/110-wrong-choice.html

dr.antony said...

Corruption is a perversive aspect of Indian politics and has seeped in to every aspect of the common mans life.Public resources are used for private benefit.A recent survey by Times of India showed that 98 percent of the public is convinced that politicians and ministers are corrupt, with 85 percent observing that corruption is on the increase.
I couldnt believe the staggering amount involved in the latest scam.Yesterday, Jr.Karunanidhi's wedding took place at Madhurai at an estimated expenditure of 30 crores!All the ministers were given portfolios to handle the weddingceremony.Karunanidhi continued to support Raja after the massive scam and he was given a ceremonial welcome at Madras! I doubt even the PM is involved in the scam.He kept quiet for 16 months!
In a few months from now,Tamil nadu will go to the polls.The election campaigne will be expensive,and it is likely most of the funds will come from the money raised by Raja.The DMK chief himself is acting as the mob boss.He has placed every member of his family as Ministers or MPs.And it is a shame for democrasy.

In India,we have accepted corruption as part of life.We do not respond to any thing unless it personally affect us.Even if a neighbour is stabbed or killed, we wont get out of home for fear that we might be called as witness later..It is as if the whole of India is spineless and impotent.

Anonymous said...

Agree with you, Dr Anthony!

Why are our hands tied? Why can't we do something about this?

Hip Grandma said...

stray:Welcome here.You are right. Silent tolerance is only one of the ways to endorse corrupt practices.Very often we endorse it in small ways just because it suits us and these little things add up and one becomes immune to corruption and we accept it as part of life.

anon:No we Indians have not sold our souls. Most of us feel bad but are clueless about what ought to be done. And then the feeling that one ought to stay away from controversy and let others do whatever they can.

surang:Thanks for the link.I'll check it out.

dr.antony:karunanidhi is a seasoned politician and a shameless one at that. Jayalalitha also lavished a huge amount on her adopted son's wedding a few years back. All this is the tax payers money collected by unfair means. Neither of them worry about the progress of the country. Dr. Manmohan Singh should have known better than to take Karunanidhi's support. The man is far too seasoned a politician and a person of Dr. Singh's temperament may not be the right person to deal with him.

anon:i think the next generation of youngsters who want progress will do away with the corruption that prevails. May be I am too optimistic. But they are our only hope.

Renu said...

most of us feel bad when read the scams, but how many can vouch that they have neither given nor taken anything non bonafide?..the day we do that we can get rid of corruption...because we nevr want to sacrifice either money or our time for anything.we can just feel bad.

Sandhya said...

A thoughtful post. It reminds me of few experiences. In 1997, I had been to a leading university in Andhra Pradesh to attend an interview for admission into a master's program. Since I studied my bachelor's degree in an affiliated college belonging to same university, I thought of enquiring about my provisional certificate, which I need for admission purposes in other universities. Accompanied by my father, I went to the admin office. The clerk was looked very indifferent when I asked about my certificate and showed me necessary documents to ascertain that I studied in the same university. In no uncertain terms he asked "what will I get if I give you the certificate". My father and I were firm that we would not offer money to him. After arguing for a while, seeing that we had an official letter from our Univ dean to collect the certificate, he obliged but not before murmuring to himself about how people like us dont want to spend money, are stingy blah blah.

Another incident was several years ago, my father went to the post office in our town to send a telegram. The officer had to return 50paise to my father. When my father asked, that office said"what will you do with 50 paise, you will build a house?". My father said "what I do with my 50paise is none of your business. But yes if you can build a house by stealing my 50paise, I can build a bungalow". The officer promptly returned the 50paise. It may be a small amount, but it is absolutely not needed to support corruption.

A recent instance was when I asked my helper who is returning to India (we live in Singapore) after a 2-year stint with us if she would complete her BA studies (she is yet to complete her final year of studies), she said she would. I was glad and told her that if she received her bachelor's degree she can work in offices. She said "na didi, college kaun jayega, yahi dus bees hazaar denge to certificate mil hi jaayega. Hamaare pehchaan waale hain university mein. De denge certificate". I told her that is not the right way. If we ourselves exert unwanted influence to get our jobs done, we have no right to complain about corruption.

Sorry, a long post. Thought of sharing my experiences.

Hip Grandma said...

renu:Corruption can never be pinned down to one set of people. those who endorse corruption and encourage it are also contributing to the malaise.

Sandhya:That was an interesting revelation from you. But people like your father are the ones who still act as deterrents to corrupt officials and keep them at bay. Kudos to him.

hillgrandmom said...

HHG, you might find this article on Power corrupts, in the Economist interesting--http://www.economist.com/node/15328544 . I do think that corruption is much more widespread in developing nations possibly because even the basic standards of living are denied to so many, that when there is a chance to make money, whether by hook or by crook, the chance is taken.

kishan said...

IT IS ALL THE WAY TOUCHY BUT LEFT UNSOLVED RESOLUTION OF CORRUPT PRACTICES. PROFESSOR WAS MADE TO STAND FOR TWO HRS IN SCORCHING SUN BUT REST OF LOT KEPT GOING WITH KHUSI SE BY PAYING RS. 2. iS NOT THIS SIN OF RS. 2 THAT MAKES NO DIFFERENCE EVEN A CUP OF TEA COST US RS 3. ACCOMMODATING THE BRIBE FOR BIGGER BRIBE BY MAKING HIM USED TO THAT.PROF. MAY REMAIN SILENT ALWAYS.

KayEm said...

Hey Hip Grandma. Glad to have come across your article. Knowing the reasons why we endorse corrupt practices isn’t enough. To stop them we’d not only have to stop giving bribes for out of turn favours and suffer the consequences but also, we’d have to have the bribe-takers punished swiftly through a strong anti-corruption law. To catch them at it would be difficult unless we came up with a plan to police them. Democracy doesn't work by itself. It needs the input of ordinary people. And in India, not individually but in unity and therefore in safety. The one valuable resource we would be forced to give up to achieve that, is "time".