NOT A DAY PASSES IN INDIA without the media carrying some story or the other about large-scale corruption or about raids on a bureaucrat or politician yielding wealth beyond imagination,
Such deals by those in power stopped with the Congress and its allies thrown out, but the recent demonetisation brought reports of old notes worth crores being unearthed and some bankers helping turn black money into white though fake accounts or convenient interpretation of rules always favouring the rich ‘Mallyas’.
A politician who became the poster-boy of the fight against corruption, Arvind Kejriwal, till he came to power in Delhi, is now accused of receiving a bribe of Rs. 2 crores, by his own colleague and has not dared sue him for defamation. A national media house has
reported a Rs. 50-crore land deal of his brother-in-law in which a favour was shown.
The “dynasty’s son-in-law” could buy land for a pittance with money lent by a big realtor and sell it back to the same company for several thousand times more. The same family’s trust can sell property worth crores, for a throw-away price to a letter-paid trust – both with the same members.
Laloo Yadav, once the face of the Jayaprakash Narayan movement for value-based politics, proved to be a master manipulator and cunning politician ruling Bihar by proxy even when declared guilty in the fodder scam and debarred for six years from holding elected posts. He could prolong his trial for 17 tears while getting bail in three months making legal proceedings a laughing stock.
And yet some people claim to be have never paid a bribe.
These people who claim they had never accepted or paid a bribe in their lives. There are many who would forego anything to avoid greasing palms. I had once applied for a state housing board loan and was made to visit that office 50 to 60 times, after declaring that whatever the officials do, I would not pay bribe. I got the loan at last. The frequent visits made the official a friend and he found out that I was a media person.
Only later I realised that the self-glorification for honesty was meaningless as my money had gone into paying bribes, as has yours – and that of everyone else in India, unless he was a beggar. And I discovered in Mumbai that even beggars and pickpockets pay bribes to be allotted areas of operation without competition.
You and I have paid money used for bribing if we ever bought anything manufactured in a factory, as no industry can be run in India without paying bribe to some official or the other. A garment factory had a team of Forest Department officers suddenly descending on it demanding explanation of how a steam boiler was running there without a permit to buy would. The permit was produced, but it was found to be in the name of the firm that earlier owned the factory. So pay the bribe or…
The new owner, after time-motion-studies decided to shift the canteen. Immediately came a notice from the Labour department. The bribe came to some lakhs. Excise and Income Tax departments and the police have regular monthly payments going out from factories. Send goods by railway wagons and grease palms to see that the wagons were not held up in some unknown loco shed. Send them by road and pay to see that the trucks are not detained.
One can go on and on. Books can be written on bribery in each department. And the trader or factory owner is not running a charity, The money so spent will be a part of the price people pay for any goods. If you use a road you must remember that the contractor paid at higher ups to get the contract.Even then he has to bribe again to get his bills paid.
Talk of bribe and the first instance that comes to mind is of the poor police constable on the road , hauling up traffic rule violators. Pictures of them counting the day’s collection have been posted on various social media and even in the Press. For the scanty salary he gets after working unearthly hours under hard conditions breathing smoke-filled air all day, whatever little he collects (which, it is said, he has share with higher ups) is nothing compared to the millions collected “in high places.”
No wonder Indira Gandhi had declare corruption was a universal phenomenon.