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Corruption begins at home


As  various disclosures pour in about common wealth games becoming individual wealth games  and the shadow of corruption taking over the spirit of the games, the nation fumes over the enormosity and blatant nature of corruption by the organising committee.  From the tea stall benches to tweets the anger is simmering but what is this anger all about? The quantity of corruption or the corruption itself? Sadly, it seems to be the enormosity of corruption.  If the scale of the corruption was within few crores ,  CWG episode would have gone unnoticed. So  the simple point is – Is the anger just masking  our  jealousy or is it that we are insensitive to corruption to certain scale?

How many of us are corruption free?  To bribe and getting bribe are crimes according to our law. People bribe their way out when caught by traffic cops, we bribe different agencies while constructing home, we bribe for reducing the property tax, we bribe to move our files in government agencies, we bribe the railway TTE to get berths and the list goes on in our day to day life. We don’t feel guilty paying bribes within our reach to get our things done. It is the same common man of India who also receives bribes and gives bribe and is the same common man of India who complaints and fumes at the blatant corruption at the higher levels. The difference seems to be only in the number of zeroes.

A common friend of mine narrated an incident with pride on how he got away from a traffic cop by bribing him with just a packet of cigaratte. He felt it as an achievement that he avoided the fine amount for driving in no-entry zone.  A real estate developer once told me that he had to pay 2 million rupees to a panchayat officer to get no sanction letter for the property he was developing. He had no regret over it as though it is THE common norm.  The bribe range from cigaratte packets to millions depending on the job and we have no qualms paying it if it is within our reach. I am not justifying the corruption in the CWG but as we say charity beings at home,  NO to corruption should also begin at home.

Will average Shyam, Karim and Peter who has no qualms in bribing in his day to day life be clean handed when he sense an multi-million oppurtunity deal? In most cases, the answer is NO.  We blame politicians, we blame bureocrats, we blame cops, we blame each and everyone. When will we blame ourselves?  Its not aliens who take bribe or give bribe. Its the same society which does as well as blame. Call it split personality or sheer jealousy. If someone is really angry over the corrupt practice, they should also fight the corruption at lower level. The rot begins at roots and spread upwards.  It has become convinient to blame, a habit to be cynical but unwillingness to change and fight. We all need someone else to fight on behalf of us , a super hero rather than be the hero. India does not heroes , it needs responsible citizens who will be the change rather than just doing the talks and wondering who will bell the cat?

A 2005 study done by Transparency International (TI) in India found that more than 50% of the people had firsthand experience of paying bribe or peddling influence to get a job done in a public office. Corruption has become a way of life to a certain extend to get things done and unless society changes this outlook, the society compels the law makers to nail the law breakers, we will continue to see treadmills hired for 10 Lakh rupees and toilet tissue for 3,750 rupees all in the name of games.

0 17 August, 2010 India Matters August 17, 2010

About the author

He is the lead man of GingerChai and plays the multi role of chief author, editor, business development and also of a chaiwala! (Tea maker!) He is the master brewer at Ginger Chai.

View all articles by Lakshmi Rajan


  1. Anney

    Well said! Bribe does begin at home…but an ordinary Tom , Dick or Harry can’t fight it. The people must stand as ONE to fight it. 🙂

  2. S.R.Ayyangar

    You are right. Corruption is in our blood. When child does not head, he is tempted by parents to do certain act in return for a thing of his choice like bicycle or pair of shoes.Thus it starts from our own home from childhood. The corruption you have mentioned may however be small, but its consequences have far reaching effect.

  3. Mani padma

    Here I would like to raise a point. How many of us have actually faced a demand of bribe? Now u will say that we get hints or that they don’t do anything till we offer a bribe, but it might be so that we are confusing inefficiency with corruption or it mite be truly that ur papers are not in order. In fact, many a time I have seen people offering bribes themselve to get something out of the way done, with zeal. Demand doesn’t even come here.

    1. Anney

      I have noticed the system has non logical demands placed on acquiring certain services. Hence, they don’t need to demand for the bribe, you are forced to pay it to quit going on a wild goose chase for a document that is found God-alone-knows-where.:)

      1. ravi

        not necessary i suppose.. i remember one of my frnd saying.. ” to get ur boiler certificed (industrial boiler) he doesnt come till u put 1L on the table”. This is the case to get the industry certified for using the boiler with valid dimentions. He just doesnt come to certify it.

        Or take this case.. one of my frnds met with accident, where he hit the footpath.. some 10 feet away form it was masjid; and the police said.. pay me 6K or else i will book case stating u tried to attack masjid (ok some ipc section).

        Or am i reading u wrong?

        1. Anney

          So u agree with the non logical demands…1 L of coming to inspect something which is their duty or Bribe to not book you for something that could send you on a wild chase…:)

      2. Bhagwad Jal Park

        For this reason, the electronic delivery of government services should have a significant impact on the common man’s experience of dealing with the government. A computer doesn’t ask for a bribe!

  4. ravi

    we wanted to get BSNL broadband istalled.. we had to pay the installer 200 Rs otherwise he wouldnt leave the home -he wouldnt accept 100Rs. All this.. following up, complaining.. requesting.. begging.. took us 2 weeks of time. I wanted Airtel connection to my mobile, and it happend in 24hrs. He did everyting and at EOD we got the call to verify.

    I think we are forced to pay it, esp if its govt organizations as they are known for it. More importantly in private org, i havent seen it happening. What do u say?

    1. Anney

      i disagree… i have not seen much of it in the private orgs…the govt is hopeless…but you can se it in the non govt. universities…case for every file movement…wheather they lost the file and you had to locate it or you had to move from one desk to another.

      1. ravi

        hmm.. may b u r right.. i dont know.. i remember the words of JP; where ever u have raw power/ no competition u have corruption (does this also have exception.. let me know).

        1. Anney

          Well if there is no competition, bribes will be called as standard charges…and raw power backs this as the norm I guess…

  5. gayatri

    good article!
    corruption does really begin at home. infact kids are indirectly told that it is the faster way to get things done – for e.g. parents coax their kids into finishing their homework by slipping in chocolates or extra TV time to seal the deal.

    btw i’ve read somewhere that corruption can actually help the economic growth :evilgrin:

  6. Pranjal

    i had to get my passport made… i had sent the draft and everything and my passport came for police verification.. i was called at police station… my documents were verified and as i was about to leave the constable calls me and asks me “kuch chai paani ka intezaam kar dejiye”!! now i got the cue… i know its the time to bribe else i would forever be waiting for my passport… so i asked “kitane?” and he says 500 hundred rupees!!! i was amazed when he said “chai, paani” i thought he’d ask for some 5o rupees… i thought “500 rupae ki chai pee jaega? aadmi hai ya haiwaan!!” and then started bargaining… i ended up paying 300 rupees to him and later 100 rupees again for CID verification- that too when i have everything- every single document in place!!

    1. Swati

      I know people will not digest whatever I am going to say now, but it actually happened to me.. When I made my passport from Ghaziabad, I went there stood in the queue, and when my turn came submitted all my documents, went home, after 15 days a policewala came to my place for verification. Everything was in place. Again after 15 days a courier guy came with my ready passport. In this whole process, I did not pay a single extra penny to anyone.. neither did I took the services of the Agent.. similarly, when I got my Visa approval, i did not have to pay any extra money..

      Well it was the first time when I experienced something like this.. I was also surprised.. but I think, they take bribe when we indicate this to them.. otherwise, they also can do your work without a sign of bribe…

  7. Upasana

    Pranjal’s incident reminded me of something similar that happened to me. When I had got my visa approval they courier guy who came to deliver my passport at home started asking me questions like “kitne saal ka laga hain? kahan ka” and stuff..
    He took my signatures but kept talking and all. I was confused as to why he wasn’t leaving. Then he asked for some chai paani for him coz he got me the passport!!!! :shout:

    Just then my phone rang and I had to close the door :evilgrin:
    I think he understood and I saw him leaving :rotfl:

    But yes, I’ve seen more people complaining than doing something :shame:

  8. Phoenixritu

    It is deeply ingrained in the system. Do you know that an honest officer actually gets punished – he gets sent to hard postings, his promotions are withheld and he is superseded by junior officers? Often its not simply the matter of turning a blind eye. You have to be on the take, so as to fit in. Its a tough battle the citizens of India face – we have to fight the rot which is very deep seated.

  9. nalini hebbar

    If I don’t pay the linesmen of BSNL and Electricity dept, I will have problems with them more often that I do now. This is the ground reality. I don’t want to spend time fighting against the practice and ending up running an unproductive business.

  10. Avinash Murkute

    Well said. Corruption begins at home of BSNL CMD too.


    This was the email dated May 26, 2010 by Kuldeep Goyal BSNL CMD. Before his retirement he wrote such emails thrice. That is how Corruption beigns at home of BSNL CMD.

  11. Avinash Murkute

    Dear Sir, We acknowledge receipt of your mail. The same has been forwarded to Mahrastra Telecom circle / Telephones for necessary action with intimation to you.
    With kind regards CMD SECTT dated 26 May 2010. And Kuldeep Goyal retired forgetting corruption. Hope he forgets his pension and post retirement salary too.

  12. Siddhartha

    Most of the communities in India (such as Bengali), are succumbed in ‘Culture of Poverty'(a theory introduced by an American anthropologist Oscar Lewis), irrespective of class or economic strata, lives in pavement or apartment. Nobody is at all ashamed of the deep-rooted corruption, decaying general quality of life, worst Politico-administrative system, weak mother language, continuous absorption of common space (mental as well as physical, both). We are becoming fathers & mothers only by self-procreation, mindlessly & blindfold. Simply depriving their(the children) fundamental rights of a decent, caring society, fearless & dignified living. Do not ever look for any other positive alternative behaviour (values) to perform human way of parenthood, i.e. deliberately co-parenting of those children those are born out of ignorance, real poverty. All of us are being driven only by the very animal instinct. If the Bengali people ever be able to bring that genuine freedom (from vicious cycle of ‘poverty’) in their own life/attitude, involve themselves in ‘Production of Space’(Henri Lefebvre), at least initiate a movement by heart, decent & dedicated Politics will definitely come up.
    – Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay, 16/4, Girish Banerjee lane, Howrah-711101, India.

  13. nitin

    Well I dont agree that those who paid Rs.50 bribe will be willing to take part in a Rs.500 cr scam with equal ease and comfort, may be, may be not. A death happened due to careless behaviour does not make one murder, a person killing one person out of circumstances perhaps will not go on to kill another 5000 people. I am not trying to justify the small and big crimes, but the analogy or the linear exaggeration is not correct.

    Indeed every NO counts but a top down approach rather than a bottom up will be much better and effective to tackle this monster.

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