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.
(This post was originally published on Aug 17, 2013.)