A lot is being said about the anti corruption drive and I feel glad that the lay man has stood up against the corruption that prevails in society. The huge crowd that gathers in support of Anna Hazare is proof that the common man is sick and tired of greasing palms to get the simplest work done in Government offices. I feel bad that I also am part of the problem simply because I am not part of the solution. I did not offer ‘chai pani ka paisa’ to the dealing clerk while submitting my thesis. The process was deliberately delayed and the examiner’s report suppressed. Finally I manage to acquire my doctoral degree 18 months after I submitted my report. I had nothing to lose since I had a job and at that point in my career I could not have got an automatic promotion. I attended three interviews after that but the story was the same. It was whispered that there was a price attached and the moment I landed in Patna negotiators would seek me out. No one did. So I really haven’t directly dealt with mediators who strike shady deals on behalf of the powers that be. It is all hearsay which may or may not be true. Again it was a consolation that I had a job that promised a pension on retirement and I was in a better position than many others equally qualified and competent.
Is it the same with others?
Kala is the Head Mistress of a middle school that is semi government. Funds are released after several rounds of meetings and around 30 teachers working under her wait for months to get their salaries. And when the salary amount is sanctioned the dealing clerk delays the transfer of funds till she pays him an amount agreed upon as ‘chai pani ka paisa’. This depends on the amount each teacher stands to ‘benefit’. There is no guarantee as to when the next salary would be sanctioned. I wonder what ought to be done under the circumstances. Some teachers are sole bread winners with several dependents. Kala knows that as a teacher she should fight against corruption. Complaining will not help since the clerk is perhaps the agent and there are many others who benefit by his collection. I wonder if Anna Hazare’s drive against corruption will actually reach out to such people who are victims of a corrupt system.
I have no sympathy for those among us who grease palms for obtaining favors out of turn. Driving license given out without the person taking the test for instance. A friend’s husband lost his life on account of rash driving by a teenager who in all probability was under age. But who cares? We want the easy way out. One goes to a government hospital and the treatment he/she gets is definitely better if hospital staff are bribed. The list is long and this is only the beginning.
I don’t mean to say that we should lose hope. I feel that we ought to take steps to counsel government employees and impress upon them that it is a shame to expect ‘oopari kamayi’ (bribe) as a right. The chain/circle is vicious and inter-connected and links politicians, bureaucrats as well as their sub ordinates. I end with two examples of upright IPS officers that makes me think that it is wrong to paint everyone with the same brush.
One involved the SP of our township some three years back. He had given his phone number to the women’s organization that supported a complainant of domestic abuse and asked them to feel free to contact him at any time of the day/night in case of trouble. They rang him up at 2 in the night and within minutes the station in charge of the police station nearest to the girl’s house sent a constable to arrest her husband.
The second involved the DIG of our township. We had an interactive session with him at a local college. He asked the audience to co – operate with him in punishing erring traffic police/constables and the like by lodging an instant complaint. A constable posted at the National Highway leading to our town was seen accepting bribe to allow the entry of heavy vehicle during the time declared as ‘No entry’ time keeping the safety of school children returning home in auto – rickshaws/ private vehicles in mind. Someone clicked a photograph of the constable and forwarded it to the DIG. The man was immediately suspended. This has served as a warning to other constables too.
These are the steps that responsible citizens can take to be part of the solution. I add that I myself spoke to the aforementioned DIG at six in the morning on behalf of my servant who said that the station in charge of our area would not accept a complaint that she wished to lodge. I wanted to check for myself if he would take calls that early in the morning. And he did. He asked her to go to the police station that very day and that he would direct the station in charge to take appropriate action.
If we wish to take Annaji’s movement forward we too need to do our bit.