Corruption in the land of Clean Citizens

Every time there is a discussion on corruption, we lay the blame squarely on our politicians, bureaucrats, policemen, everyone but ourselves!

Isn’t it a mystery how we have such corrupt politicians, bureaucrats, policemen, etc. in a land of Clean Citizens?

Some years back, my General Manager and I had visited a customer at his factory to finalise their order for a few machines for his company’s expansion. After we completed the discussion, the Proprietor described a peculiar problem that was being faced on one of their existing machines, and asked me if I could suggest a solution. After getting some more information from the Factory Manager, I suggested a few adjustments to be made in the machine’s settings. 10 minutes later, the Factory Manager returned and reported that the problem appeared to have been solved. I told him to let me know if the problem recurred.

A week later, I visited the same customer to collect their Purchase Order and cheque for advance payment. When I asked about the problem on their existing machine, the Proprietor replied that the problem had not recurred. He was extremely pleased about it since they had not been able to solve this problem for a few months. He then asked me if I could suggest a consultant who could visit his factory one a week for a few hours every Saturday afternoon and advise them about operation and maintenance of all their machines. He mentioned the monthly fee that he would pay, and said that, if the person happened to be employed in any other company, he was willing to pay the fee in cash so that nothing would be on record.

While he hadn’t said so in so many words, the gentleman was obviously making me an offer to be his unofficial consultant. The profile fit me perfectly! He knew that my office closed at 1.00 pm on Saturdays. The monthly fee was generous, more than half my monthly salary at that time!

However, I acted as if I hadn’t got his message. I told him that I couldn’t think of any suitable person, but I would definitely try to suggest somebody at the earliest. At that point, as if he had got a sudden inspiration, he said, “You know something! I just realised that you are the ideal person to be my consultant!!”

I replied that, while I certainly could do justice to the assignment if I took it up, I couldn’t accept his offer since the terms of my employment explicitly forbade me from engaging in any work or business other than that of my employer.

The customer was an educated man, owning a few flourishing businesses in various industries. He was one of India’s ‘Clean Citizens’! No politician, bureaucrat or policeman was involved in this matter. His intended act of corruption was self-motivated.

Like my customer, almost all of us indulge in voluntary acts of corruption in our daily life.
We offer bribes to policemen because we don’t want to pay fines. We use official facilities (car, telephone, etc.) for personal use. We get birth certificates for our children with the Date of Birth changed to ensure earlier school admission. We jump traffic signals. The list can go on and on. We are not victims in these acts of corruption, we are the perpetrators.

Corruption of politicians, bureaucrats, policemen, etc. is a problem that needs to be addressed. But, we ourselves are no less guilty. Politicians, bureaucrats, policemen, etc. are only the face of corruption in India. The body of this problem, and of all other problems, is we, the people of India. Along with our efforts to change politicians, bureaucrats, policemen, etc. for the better, let us try to change ourselves as well.

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6 thoughts on “Corruption in the land of Clean Citizens

  1. Wholeheartedly agree with your stand.
    It is rightly said that it requires two hands for a clap. A bribe cannot be taken unless there is someone to offer a bribe. Call it facilitation fee or expedition charges, it still continues to remain a bribe. It begins with the offeror who is an aam janata and ends with a chota mota babu.
    In the north it termed ‘ghoos’, in Mumbai ‘chai-pani/hafta’, in Karnataka -‘sulpa adjust madi’. ‘Lobbyists’ have sophisticated terms that their business tycoon clients do not want to come out in public domain as it ‘impinges on their right to privacy’?!!

  2. Look, corruption has been taking shape in our subcontinent from pre-independence era; it has grown into an unimaginable magnitude today. The basic reason for this is that education was not propagated in the country ever since independence and today also we have the highest level of illiteracy in our country (more than 30%). Some eminent personality rightly commented on education in India…that “we don’t have any education system, but an examination system”. Yes, that’s why we find hordes of coaching classes all over the the country. Then why do we have schools & colleges if we have to send our children to these bogus classes which are extorting huge fees in the name of education? In fact, Govt. should ban all coaching classes across the country like Guthka & Paan masalas. Schools at the primary level should be teaching practical civics rather than the rotten history of Mughals in detail. All TV serials should be banned which does not send a moral lesson or a message to the masses….they are showing extra-marital affairs, dacoities/murders (Crime Patrol) & unrealistic things & nothing else. Producers can make serials on Netaji Subhash, Savarkar, Rajguru, Chafekar brothers, Udham Singh, Shri Gajanan Maharaj etc…..no, they will make love stories which are quite irrelevant for our country.

  3. There is a reason for the saying “People get the government they deserve”. Sadly, I’m willing to bet “adjust maadi” walas are in the majority.

  4. Agree that we all have tendencies to be corrupt. It is like good and evil is within all of us and it is a matter of control as to which personality shows up.

    So if we assume that we cannot fundamentally take ‘selfishness’ out of human beings, then how do we live with ‘acceptable’ corruption. I go back to ‘rule of law’ being the most viable tool to control this and any other problem. A basic premise of rule of law is swift justice, which is lacking in India and as you go east from USA. I would go to court if I know a decision will be rendered in few weeks (for minor felonies) rather than never.

    And the second fundamental shift in thinking is to stop blaming others and stop advocating ‘moral’ and ‘cultural’ control on society through government controls and rules. You think programs on TV are bad, stop watching them. If enough of you think alike then that program will die because of market forces.

    One good thing in India that I am observing is that you can be reasonably well off with just hard work (and a little bit of luck) without being corrupt. I don’t think that was true prior to economic openness, atleast that is an opinion looking from outside

  5. Pingback: Can we eradicate corruption? Yes We Can! | Proactive Indian

  6. Was such a clause warranted? Most companies do that – they put such clauses. So, say if a company has employed someone at 10K per month in hand, and made him/her sign an agreement saying you can not work elsewhere, and the person does get a part time opportunity like you did… would it be easier or tough to have regard to principles in such a case? Also considering both the works are diametrically different and bear no resemblance or threat to either of the businesses….
    Life often presents tough choices. When the choice directly affects basic needs, that is when all the values and principles get challenged. Otherwise it’s easy. Ignoring greed is easy, not hunger pangs, and certainly not survival.
    Putting forth another view point.

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