When victims of an unfair system become perpetrators of corruption

I am re-posting, with a few changes, Not my problem?, which was my first blog post, originally posted on June 15, 2013. The incident described took place a couple of decades back.

My neighbours had 2 children: a 12-year-old daughter and a 9-year-old son. All the neighbours observed that only the son was regularly treated to goodies like chocolates and ice-creams by his parents. The daughter never got such goodies. This was blatant discrimination, but none of the neighbours was close enough to the parents to raise the subject with them.

I was puzzled by the fact that the daughter, who was only 12 years old, never seemed to be perturbed about being denied the goodies that her brother enjoyed. The mystery was solved when I learnt that, whenever she was sent to buy provisions from the neighbourhood grocer, he ‘over-invoiced’ (for those who don’t know, this means he prepared a bill for a higher amount) and passed on the over-invoiced amount to her. She would use these amounts to buy goodies without her parents’ knowledge.

An underprivileged person had decided not to accept the unfairness of the system. She used ‘unfair means’ to compensate for the system’s unfairness, but she probably had no option. It was sad that her own parents had unwittingly led her to dishonesty.

There are many persons who do not have access to all or some of the basic necessities of life only because they happen to have been born in an underprivileged family. Wouldn’t such persons want to acquire those basic necessities? If they cannot acquire those basic necessities by fair means, wouldn’t they be tempted (perhaps compelled) to resort to ‘unfair
means’?

A person who has successfully achieved something by ‘unfair means’ once would be tempted to do it again, leading to some more such episodes, ultimately resulting in corruption becoming a habit.

How do privileged people like us (yes, we are privileged people!) react when we come across persons who do not have access to all or some of the basic necessities of life only because they happen to have been born in an underprivileged family? Do we try to do something about it, or are we indifferent since we are not directly affected?

We may not be affected by the suffering of today’s underprivileged person. But we certainly could be affected by the corruption or any other crime that today’s underprivileged person is pushed into. If, by helping an underprivileged person, we prevent that person from being pushed into corruption or crime, we are not just helping that person; we are helping ourselves and society at large.

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4 thoughts on “When victims of an unfair system become perpetrators of corruption

  1. The girl, treated badly made use of unfair means to ‘compensate’ herself for the treatment meted out to her by the parents.
    In government teaching institutions students admitted under the ‘reserved categories’ are seen to continue the use of their hostel rooms for longer times by simply not passing in the exams – another form of ‘compensation’?

    • Nagesh, from whatever I’ve seen and heard, very few students fail exams to continue the use of their hostel rooms. In any case, I don’t think it’s restricted to ‘reserved’ category students.

  2. Well, there are many times when people around us take decisions/offer advices which are in the best of our interest, ‘in their opinion’. But, they don’t understand the long-term impact of it. But, that does not imply that we have to continue following those paths. The girl is getting benefits from it right now, but if her parents are giving her rest of the values correct (like honesty and no-cheating/stealing), am hopeful she’ll start feeling guilty about it soon. And, come back to the correct path. But, in this act, the person deprived her of the opportunity to gather courage and voice her anger against this partiality. Will she be able to do that later? Don’t know.

  3. hmm now that is a very good point.
    its the same that to get into punjab police one needs to pay LAKHS of rupees, so the one who has spent so much money to get that job, will want to earn it back too as salary wont do it , hence corruption starts ..

    it is a vicious circle..

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