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India against Corruption – are we really against it?

Twitter and other social media were abuzz. TV channels delighted.  Young generation at its vocal best.  After Egypt, Syria and Libya many saw it as a revolution in making in India.  At 73, Anna Hazare was the new youth icon of India.  Energetic, passionate and determined, he charged up the minds across the nation to fight corruption. Thousands joined the protest. Candles were lit. Marches made.  Government buckled under pressure.

People and media claimed it as  India against Corruption.  A victory for common man of India. But did India as a nation won?  I would have to disagree here and say NO.  Swept by frenzy, we forgot to realize India is you, me and we. Did we stop ourselves from corrupting and be corrupted?  Be honest. Majority of those who participated would have been guilty of corruption themselves.  How many out there who joined the frenzy had not bribed a traffic cop? How many out there have not paid the cop who came for passport verification? Not paid some government worker at some point of time? Even if you have not bribed, how many would have stopped their parents or relatives or friends from the act? Corruption begins at home. Before cleansing the nation, how many of you have thought of cleansing our home.

I had an interesting discussion in a forum regarding this. The view points shared were interesting.  It reflected our collective psychology.

I opened a discussion with the statement:

Ok now that everyone cheering the fight against corruption, tell me how many of you would stop bribing the cops/house tax assessor etc from tomorrow?

Some of the answers I got:

I do it due unavoidable situations and due to time constraint

This law here deals with corruption at high levels; a common man will have to pay short hand bribes to survive.

Everyone uses Bribe in their life directly or indirectly

Corruption of 5 rs 100 rs is fine, but the main idea is to stop the bigger fishes, crores

Putting an end to corruption at all levels is absolutely infeasible, so it would be better if we discuss that can happen……a common man has to pay short bribes to survive…..he can`t go on a movement every moment in life.

Corruption is something that affects public money on a mass scale.

Going by this forum discussion and other view points I gathered around, it seems like most Indians are resigned to the idea of corruption in day to day life.  We have become conditioned to the fact that corruption is indispensable and a walk of life to get things done.  This conditioning is generated mostly by selfish interest to save their time, money and what- a- single- person- can –do mentality.  If we can get away by paying 50 Rs fine instead of the 200 Rs fain, why not bribe?  If we can save property tax by bribing the officer a little, why not bribe?  If we can fastrack out work by greasing palms, why not try it? Like a tip in restaurants, people have resigned to the fact of small time bribing to get their work done.

Corruption of 5 rs 100 rs is fine, but the main idea is to stop the bigger fishes, crores

For a person earning 10,000 Rs, 100 Rs will not pinch. But for a person earning 100 Rs a day, it’s a big number.  If you think Rs.100 is small bribe, for a corporate couple of crores to fastrack his process does not pinch him. So where it ends? When someone is comfortable and have no remorse in paying even small bribes to get his things done fast, for his convenience, for his time constraint – he loses the moral right to fight against corruption.  Let all those who joined the India against Corruption, touch their heart, look within and ponder if they have the moral right?

When you justify the petty bribes with the following thought:

I do it due unavoidable situations and due to time constraint

Think again,

Corporates could think of the same line – bribing bureaucrats and politicians due to unavoidable situations and time constraint. So what’s this fight all about then?

Yes, I agree it is easier said than done to cleanse the dust at our doorstep. But we have to, for the future of India, for the future of our generation. When half of the population is below poverty line suffering from severe inflation, it is more important for the middle class to stop/protest corruption at the root level. Imagine the plight of the BPL who would be forced to bribe coz the middle class careless selfish people “encourage” the practice.

So corruption begins at home. Let’s cleanse the home. If not now, then when?  The fight against corruption does not end in burning candles in India Gates and protesting. The fight against corruption will be a real fight when WE stop bribing for our own self-interest and when WE walk the talk.

0 11 April, 2011 India Matters April 11, 2011

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

33 comments

  1. Simran

    Over internet it’s like a fashion that if you do not talk about wht’s “hot and happening” you will be termed as an outcast, so most of the online folks are fashionable. There are hardly 5% of them who actually do something constructive in real life.
    @Article, Rightly said, India can never be against corruption unless we watch our own action than debating/pointing out whts wrong in others.

  2. Alka

    Very valid and apt…One bill cannot eradicate the menace which has become a part of our lifestyle. The good thing which has emerged from this movement is that it has united the nation and given us a platform to air our views. The middle classes were feeling helpless and they jumped from the net to the streets to grab this opportunity to show that though they might not vote but they want a say in the way govt works.


    1. Post author
      Lakshmi Rajan

      I don’t deny Annaji did arouse the awareness among the people and youth but how many would apply the India against Corruption in their daily walk of life?

  3. S.R.Ayyangar

    I totally agree with your views. There is a saying in Hindi/Urdu that ” Is hamam mein sub nange hain” ( Every body is naked in the bath room). If we put our hands on our heart and ask- ‘Are you not small time corrupt?’ Answer will be just NO. But, the beginning has to start from some where and the current wave has kindled the hope that even if all is not well, awareness about a corruption free society is taking shape and that in itself is a revolution.


    1. Post author
      Lakshmi Rajan

      Yes a hope is raised but how far it will be sustained has to be wait and watched but unless people bring an amount of self-discipline in their life and a moral right in their own life it would be a long long walk for a corruption free society.

  4. mani

    Simple logic- those who reside in a glass house themselve can never afford to throw stones at others. if we have to accuse some one or point any one with a misdemeanor, we ourselves have to ensure that we are spotlessly clean. Otherwise it just becomes a blame game- a thing that is prevalent here in our country in the name of politics.

  5. Tanishka

    Very rightly pointed out… We all want to remove corruption from the highest level but we forget that the work has to start from grass root level….

    1. Simran

      You won’ believe there are a few people I met online who are comfortable with small corruption but not big corruption in crores !!
      Only if they realize there’s nothing like small or big when its about something corrupt !

  6. Rama Mohan A

    Beat the snake with a big stick even though the snake small. No matter either the corruption is small or big but the attitude should develop in common man to rise his voice against it.

  7. Arti

    I don’t know how many of us are that clear headed to think it this way, but I Agree with each and every word you have written. The process of eradicating corruption must start from the individual, from our homes only then can we think of making a difference to the bigger picture!

  8. Pundit Commentator

    While I wrote this article for a slightly different context of snark attack, I would like you to read and take note of the last three sentences I wrote here: http://punditcommentator.blogspot.com/2011/04/talking-about-anna-hazare-corruption.html. I’d also like to add that I support your call to clean your own house but I submit that this country lives in a culture of corruption and this happens to a social problem that is best tackled top-down rather than bottom-up, unlike say behaviour change communication issues like female infanticide. If India were to follow Hongkong’s lead on this {http://indiareloaded.tv/article/india-can-learn-hong-kongs-success-anti-corruption-movement}, in the future, ordinary citizens are unlikely to throw money at officials to do a job that would be done cleanly in a new system.

  9. The Fool

    Sounds very nice and in principle I agree with you whole heartedly. But in practice, let me tell my expereince honestly. We the common people (at least me and my parents) are not crusaders. All we want is to get things done within the confines of the laws of the land. So neither me and my parents have never taken any bribe nor done anything that is not lawful. But when law enforcers demand bribe for something that is very much lawful and we can afford it, why undergo the harrsamment. Missing a meal or walking with a candle on the street one day is fine. But on a day to day basis undergoing harrassment and wasting time and energy that can be spent on other fruitful pursuits ? If I can get my legal rights by paying an amount that does not hurt me to some rogue, why would I not? If a thief kept a knife on my neck, I would gladly give him all the money in my purse and get out of the place. So should I penalized for abetting the thief in his crime?

    1. Mani

      Are we forced to bribe because in principal we ourselves are not that confident of our stand. A battle against bribe is a battle and like all battles , if you enter into it , you hae to stick by it or perish. Some where along the lines are we afraid to say No because we are not courageous enough to stand upto them or maybe we know our defense isn’t strong enough. let me give you my example-
      When we had gone to submit the papers for Passport application, the counter personnel refused to accept it saying that we haven’t mentioned the right pincode. We were shocked because that was what we had been using it but because we didn’t have the confidence we came back that day. Next day we again proceeded there armed with the print outs of India Posts posal codes which showed us to be right. The personnel again refused, but this time I dug my heels. He shouted, threatened, but I refused to budge showing the list and properly told him that if you are rejecting the application, then just give it in WRITING and I will go back. He was in the wrong and after a short while he gave in, because he was in the wrong. The first stage was finally done.
      Then when the police came for verification and we had to present the original documents to them, we realised to our horror that my MiL had misplaced her age proof. (happens in old age) The police just said that it was needed and if not presented they will have to send a negative report. Now tell me were they wrong when they said so? Ok We were a decent family, the age proof was definitely somewhere , but were the police wrong when they said they had to follow procedure? We could have waited or faced rejection and reapplied honorably, but as you say, we want everything easy- so out came the wallet. They did not have to even ask.
      So now can I say that I was forced to pay a bribe?

  10. neal

    i totally agreed wth d view…yes i bribed bt tht is nt because i like it doing so neither for saving time…because i am forced to do so…i want a clean government where there is no corruption…and for tht we hav to raise our voice bt the question is to whom????our system is corrupted from the root level…so nw i got a medium to follow Anna Hazare…and i am doing it…following him…and i asked everyone who is concern about it to follow him….

    1. Vineet Biju

      your every single bribe is greasing the system, making it what it is now. You are responsible for starting this chain of events which has led to such disastrous results. I think Annaji should also put some stress on stopping bribery at grass roots level. Every single drop is part of a vast ocean. Each and every bribe is encouraging future scamists that they might earn a quick buck from this activity. Please clean yourself and then go for cleaning the system.

  11. sandy

    You know how we say that we have no choice but to bribe to get our things done? Well, I;m abroad now and I am ashamed to say that I actually miss the bribing because it made my life easier. You pay money and you get anything in India- you dont even realise when you get used to the system and you become as corrupt as it is!
    When we pull up our socks, we will realise that the system takes its oxygen from us- we do have a choice-we just have got used to taking the convenient route. Much like payiung more for a branded item because of the convenience of shopping in an AC mall!

  12. Mohini Puranik

    I totally agree with you, Laxmi. I have one more aspect, many problems are interrelated so only anti corruption movement will not give some firm results. I guess this movement was sponsored, as the sponsored revolution is going on in many coutries, Asanj supported Anna and blamed PM. What does this show. Wikileak’s game is something deep.

  13. zephyr

    It is not correct to say that strict laws should not be brought because we are morally responsible for corruption. When something has become endemic, the scourge requires stronger measures than just moral responsibility. it is like the PM saying, ‘I am clean. I don’t know what is happening.’ Has is stopped any corrupt minister from going whole hog because of that? I would say that let us be honest and stop the practice but let there also be transparency and stringent laws to curb the practice. When the babu or cop are afraid of being caught, they would automatically stop taking bribe. It will therefore stop both the giver and the taker. we need the rule of the danda to keep us in line. we are juveniles (delinquents to some extent too!)

  14. vidya

    I hear you but please do not be so cynical this is the first time in a long long time that people have taken notice of something. Yes we Indians needed to see people come together against our corrupt-ocracy! We are so Chalta hai in our attitude we had to take a stand. And yes it does boil down to taking a stand every day from that extra money to the auto driver to all the other sins of omission and commission we have made in our lives! Its not too late yet-ya I am an idealist!-there is hope yet that all those on this site will take a personal stand against bribes.

  15. R-A-J

    Whether one is BPL or IPL, nobody wants to give away money..its for the convenience factor for which people grease palms….. yesterday, a friend of mine said he paid 500 bucks to some gov officer to bring his file to the top of the heap; if he didn’t pay, he’d had to wait for another week… the common man is more bothered about this greasing of palms for gov officials to do their legitimate jobs rather than the crores siphoned off by a Raja… sure, you can say No to corruption, but would you want to waste your time waiting, when ‘an amount’ can get things rolling. The common man is merely reacting to a corrupt system – he doesn’t wanna pay, but if he doesn’t, things just don’t move. The support for Hazare was more on the hope of bringing out a bill that could cleanse the system so that we don’t have to pay to get things done.

    Nobody wants to feed the corrupt; but if thats the only way out, what else can be done?

  16. pradeep

    rajasthan high court currept justice vinit kothari ko nyay ke pad se hatao ye bhu maphiya ban gaya hai aur logo ki jamine hathiya raha hai.

  17. pradeep

    mere ko currept high court justice se bacha lo vo mujhe mar dega aap dekhana vo mujhe sacha nahi bolne dega 7737428807

  18. 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.

    1. Pranjal

      ki dada, ki korcho tumi. same comment copy paste korcho sobai article te- bhalo kotha na re dada. The same comment is there on internet at least 10-11 times :P

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