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Squeezing The Corruption Lemon… Yet Again!

Posted on November 18, 2010 in Society

By Varun Shrivats:

I do not have with me the exact number of articles whose purpose has been to criticize the politicians of our country, but I do know one thing with certainty — the number is big enough to eliminate the need of one more article to support the point. Still, I’m going to squeeze the already squeezed lemon here, simply because the occasion calls for it, and hey, there’s lot of juice still left in this lemon.

Several news websites reported recently that when Ratan Tata tried to set up a domestic airline in collaboration with Singapore Airlines, a Union Minister had asked Rs 15 crore bribe from him.

Another industrialist then suggested Tata to pay the minister his demands. Tata came up with the following reply:
“I just want to go to bed at night knowing that I haven’t got the airline by paying for it (the bribe). And I can tell you I would have been feeling tremendously shameful had we got the airline and we had paid for it.”

This is just the tip of the iceberg, and let me go further and say that the whole iceberg is never fully revealed to any of us. Not all instances of bribery make their way into the page space of a newspaper article. So the magnitude of this vice in our country, though known by all to be big, might have been underestimated.

Earlier we witnessed the fiasco aroused by the 2G spectrum scam. In the Rajya Sabha on the 16th of November 2010, the Comptroller and Audit General report was tabled. This report showed how former telecom minister A. Raja broke several guidelines to allot the 2G spectrum to companies unfit, thus causing the government an estimated loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crores (enough money to develop all Indian villages). If you want to conveniently ignore happenings such as the above mentioned ones, simply because they may not seem to affect your life (this itself is a wrong assumption, because it is our money, the taxpayers’ money, that gets squandered due to such happenings), put yourself in the following situation.

Your flat in a building consisting of 12 others is struck by an unfortunate mishap: The electricity supply to your flat gets disrupted due to some problem in the wiring specific to your flat. Try getting an electrician from the Electricity Board who’d come to your flat, solve your issue and not charge you more than what he is rightly deemed to get paid. Solving a Sudoku within 6 minutes may prove to be an easier task.

Problems such as bribery are hierarchal, and percolate throughout the whole political structure of a nation. A person who is unjustly asked to cough up money to get some work done carries forward the tendency to accept bribes from others, thus giving the problem of bribery a head, a body and a tail.

Solutions for such problems seem easy when written on paper, but are actually difficult to implement. Any person can easily say that stricter laws must be imposed to curb this activity, but the nature of this problem is such that the judgment of the lawmakers is put into test, when the question of “To what extent should an individual be punished, if caught taking bribes?” is asked.

A logical solution is to establish a committee of individuals, (as has been done in many places) whose sole aim is to prevent this malpractice. A big step forward would be putting the right laws into place, where “right laws” mean laws that would punish the individual enough to make him regret his misdemeanor. Again, making the above suggestion did not take more than a minute of my time, but the complete curbing of bribery will only be accomplished with continual efforts, wherein the efforts taken are genuine ones to change people’s mind against bribery and corruption, and not merely an eyewash.

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