Saturday, July 25, 2015

Our Middle-class Conscience and a Corruption-free India Cannot Coexist!

The anti corruption movement gathered steam few years back and over threw the central government and a few state governments. I was one among the guys who gave missed calls from mobile phones of all my family members in my house in support of the Anna Hazare movement. I even asked all my friends to give missed calls to the toll free number to show their support. I wished that few years down the line, ours would be a different nation from what we had then. But have things really changed? Did I stop paying bribes. NO. Even few days back I bribed someone in the hospital where my mom was admitted. It comes so naturally.

The feeling you get by buying out people gives you a high. You have to experience it to understand what I am saying. You may not have realized it, but yes it does give a high. For a particular period of time it seems like you have made them your slaves. The private hospital where my mother was admitted sucked the Vitamin M out of us like leeches and I am not required to bribe anybody. Things get done without bribing.. But if you do, you're given a wonderful service. You are treated like kings. I haven't seen a single person rejecting the money or tell me that they're just doing their work  and I need not pay them. I wanted to study their behavior and  manipulate by paying them. Not that I do not enjoy the heavenly service, I wanted to see their change in behavior upon receiving money

The driver who helped me

Does this act of mine seem hypocritical? YES. It is. Even a murderer would justify his action if you ask him. I am no different. I have had experiences where I acted like a good citizen and it cost the victims their jobs. One was working at a leading private bank and the other at a leading telecom operator. You cannot blame me for what I did. I was only trying to be a good citizen. I was promised something but got something else and I protested. I never thought my action would end in their termination. I did not want that to happen, all I wanted was what I had been promised.

In my cousin's office, a year earlier, they caught a guy accepting bribes and he was put behind bars. He was just few months away from his retirement but he landed in the jail without his PF money and pension. Incidents like this are good for the nation. These guys took bribes for doing their job. A few days back I saw a traffic police man taking bribe from a truck driver and had clicked his picture too. This guy wears Rayban sunglasses with a big beer belly and chews gutka and he deserves to be behind bars but he can still be seen near the Madiwala Police Station signal in Bangalore.

But would I pull the plug? Will I file a complaint with the picture I took of him accepting bribe.No. Why? The guy who got sacked from the private bank because of my protest called me and mentioned that his family would starve till he finds a job and he broke down. I should not have done that. I have never been confronted by someone like that before. His words scarred me. So would I pull the plug on anyone? No. I wouldn't. I also believe that some days you need people who would bend the rules for money. Like the other day when I had to rush back to my hometown because my mom was admitted in the hospital, I had to bribe the private bus driver to allow him to at least sit behind him and travel since there were no tickets available by either bus, train or flight. What if he hadn't allowed me? I cant even imagine the situation especially because entire Bangalore was shut down the following day on account of a bandh. On hearing mothers condition, he wanted to give back my money though his salary is only 12,000 a month. Allowing someone to travel behind his seat gives him some extra cash to run his family. But the same guy, on hearing my story wanted to give back my money.

I am sure, pulling the plug on someone would cost his job. His family would starve. May be he would never get a decent job again. If everyone thinks this way, can we stop corruption in India? No, a single message would cost this traffic police man's job and who knows, he might have a son or daughter studying in college and he/she might have to discontinue if he loses his job.

Do not jump to conclusions that I do not follow rules ever. I do adhere to rules and I do not flout the norms wherever possible. But when needed I work my way around to get things done. Answer this, would you be a stakeholder or just a silent spectator in such situations? Let me conclude on behalf of all the middle class folks out there, our middle class conscience and a corruption free India cannot coexist.

PS - Sorry for stereotyping the middle class folks but that is what the middle class folks like me do, ain't it?