Sunday, 24 June 2012

Down with corruption; Oh really ?

End corruption; a favourite slogan in India, especially in the recent past. Really ?? Beware , what you wish for.  If that really happened, it would profoundly alter life in India, as we know it. Are we actually ready for it ?

  • If we don't pay the bribe to get our driving license, we really have to learn driving to get one.  It is an absolute certainty that if the driving test were to be strictly administered, 90% of Indian drivers will fail
  • We have to really declare the right price of your house when registering the property. Is anybody ready for that ?
  • We probably have to vacate the house you live in - chances are that few of them meet statutory safety requirements. Fire safety - what's that ?
  • If we are "rich" we can't slip those crisp ones to witness/cop/judge and stay out of jail , every time we get up to mischief
  • If we are "poor" we can't accept the Rs 500 and one bottle of liquor at election time
  • We are  most likely evading tax. Even the salaried lot, who think that  taxes are deducted at source - are we really declaring the interest income on our savings bank account in our tax return ? That is , if we file a tax return.
  • We have to spoil our hairdo by wearing the helmet while riding the two wheeler. Slipping twenty bucks to the traffic "mama" won't do 
  • I know the concept of municipal/metro water is a joke, but the tankers of water our building society is buying is probably mostly illegal and much of the price that we pay actually is to grease some palms. 
  • Slum life is real tough and unfair, but we still cannot throw a piece of wire to the line and tap electricity. You see the Rs 150 being slipped each month to the linesman can't go on.
I can go on and on. Corruption, in India, is a story where its considered "smart" if you do it, but its a scam if anybody else does it.

So, do we REALLY want to  abolish corruption ??


J said...

I totally hear you on the current hypocrisy in demanding an end to corruption for others while taking a "pragmatic" approach to corruption when we engage in it for our own little conveniences. But don't you think people would prefer to live in place free of corruption where things work and then they will be willing to pay the taxes and fees that go with the package. My own unscientific conclusion is that Indians in the US are among the more law abiding people and are willing to play by the rules and at least I enjoy the fact that I don't have to deal with the daily squeamishness that comes with the little acts of corruption. I am in no way saying that the US is devoid of corruption. What else can you call the super PACS and huge campaign contributions. But you can lead a somewhat corruption free life on a day to day basis. Similarly in India if the government works for the people, I think people will probably choose that system with all of its additional costs. But probably not those who are currently enjoying the benefits of the system as it is and there are many in that camp, aren't there?
So what do you suggest - accept the corruption because everyone is in it together in a small or big way or make some noise about it while trying to resist the corruptions traps in our own lives to the extent possible at least in cases where we are blatantly breaking the law - I anticipate a lot of bad hair days ;)

gils said...

:) thala ungalukulla oru director shankar olinjitrunthirukaru :))

whatever you've listed has to be done and will come into practice. saying no for these reasons is like like wont sell knife because people can kill each other with that. kaai vetra kathi kazhuthaiyum vettathaan seiyum. vetra kaikku vevaram terinja porumla :)

Appu said...

As the dialogue in the very famous movie by the very famous writer the problem of corruption in our country is "we have to pay money for people to do their very own duty"
On more than few occasions ramamirthams have benefitted from me and all the time it was for them to do their duty for which they are actually paid from tax payers money!

Vishal said...

There is no half truth or half measures. Values need strong determination to overcome such system paralysis. We are victims of our own comfort.

What boggles the mind is that regardless of any level of corruption, one can still live a life of honour. Matter of choice and execution... Soulful thinking is the answer probably!

Ramesh said...

@J - Well, I am not arguing against "speed money" - the small payment that is needed to make things happen - else they won't. My examples are all where we voluntarily want to take a short cut, simply because we don't want the inconvenience or the financial consequence of following the law. Take property registration - today in big cities, all records are computerised. Property valuation rules are also published openly. You don't need to pay a bribe to get property registered. We do it because we want to suppress property value and pay lesser stamp duty. We also do it because most property transactions have a component of black money paid in cash.

We have allowed corruption to seep into our values. That is what I am railing against.

@gilsu - Director shankar yaaru ??? :)

@Zeno - See my response to J. I am no arguing against paying speed money. Tell me, why do we need to not wear a helmet and then pay the Rs 50 (I believe the going rate has been inflated) to the traffic cop ??

@Vishal - Totally true. Its all about values. In a supposedly spiritual society such as India, we should be appalled at how low values have sunk. All our religious ancestry has been totally useless.

Deepa said...

Well the struggle in getting every day chores opened the door for compromising your value system. Once you pay bribe to get your property registered, it doesn't take much persuasion to pay to get your property tax lowered. I will still blame it on the red tapism for the blatant rise of corruption. And there are lot of people who do streer clear of such deals. Not everyone has connections you see!

Anonymous said...

wow Ramesh, reading this blog is a real eye opener from an Aussie's viewpoint.



TMM said...

Once upon a time we used to look at some Govt officials and say "He is a good man, doesn't take a bribe" and nowadays we say "he is a good man,he takes his bribe and gets the work done" Today there is no guarantee that work will be done even if you grease palms, pass on speed money or use anyother euphemism for Bribe. I personally experienced this misery when I had to transfer my car over to the buyer when I left Bangalore. Both of us (buyer and seller) had to bribe to get this done!

Ramesh said...

@Deepa - Oh sure a lot of the blame is on red tape and ridiculous laws. But things are changing. There is much improvement coinciding with computerisation and going on line. Its possible to do many a thing these days without a bribe. What I am ranting about is a culture where its considered smart if you got things "done".

@kiwi - Yes, the RTO is still a haven for corruption (hence the awful driving on Indian roads), but as you know many things have changed.
@Trevor - Great to see a comment from you after a while. Oh its no so bad - this post was really for an Indian audience and hence some huge exaggerations.

@kiwi -

Sandhya Sriram said...

Instead of commenting on this, i would possibly want to leave this link here.

Sandhya Sriram said...

and now i would urge to you read this link

Sandhya Sriram said...

i know both were long reads, and many of us were possibly not completely aware of both the facets.

So i for this post just am going to repeat my comments here

We have to find the right balance of economic and political ambitions, have a press that unbiassed and plays a positive role and stop bothering about whether Vijay Mallaya makes profits or not, but be more bothered about moving teh economy forward

Ramesh said...

@Sandhya - Oh yes Sreedharan is a legend indeed and one of his fundamental values was that he was unbelievably anti corruption. As a young engineer in Cochin Shipyard, during the Emergency, he took on Indira Gandhi, refused to do something she wanted and was shunted to Manipur.

The second article, with due respect, is garbage. Ministers bungled Air India for sure, but not for the reasons mentioned. We don't want Air India to succeed by throttling Jet or Kingfisher or anybody. They don't know what free competition is and why consumers come first - I won't pander to "protecting" Air India at the cost of private airlines.

Ramesh said...

@Sandhya - Indeed , your earlier comment was both timely and apt. Yes, balance between economic advancement and social objectives is a must. One , without the other, is doomed to failure.

Appu said...

Ahem Saar :) this i agree :) btw what 50 and inflated. I know few folks who walked away with 5 rupees or one tea or one cigar :)))

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