By Gitanjali Maria:
A few weeks earlier, noted socialist and Gandhian Anna Hazare led a crusade to fight the malady of corruption so prevalent in the society. His fast-unto-death, asking for better representation of civil society in the Lokpal Bill, earned the support of different sections of the society from all parts of India. Many believed that this was to be India’s Jasmine Revolution and Jantar Mantar, the site of the protests and fasts, India’s Tahrir square.
But what made Hazare’s name a household one was the fact that he was fighting, or atleast highlighting the graveness of a social disease that was so deep-rooted in our system and so prevalent and common, that everyone has at some point of time been victimized by it. From getting passports and land records registered to registering FIRs or getting dates for hearing, money has to pass hands for things to be put on the fast track or even at a normal pace. If it is a sad fact that things that we consider to be our right also have to be attained through the backdoor after exchange of money; it is sadder fact that people who break laws are also freed from justice if they can pay enough to bribe the officials involved and others concerned.
Many people languish in jail not because they are guilty but because they do not have enough bribe money to pay and prove that they are innocent. Many are forced to forfeit job offerings abroad because the passport office clerk was not paid enough money to get the papers done in time. The youngster speeding in his Honda City is not fined by the traffic police because he is a high profile politician’s son while a middle-class teetotaler is proved drunken using false tests and fined for drunken driving. This is the state of India, today. Public office or status and money are used to achieve one’s own interests and that is corruption — one of the biggest challenges facing India at present. No wonder people crave for a Tahrir square here to vent their angers.
Simple statements or status messages on Gtalk or Facebook or clicking on ‘like’ buttons won’t usher in the revolutions that we would like to have. Preaching demands practice too. It is difficult to stand in the queue and get your work done when you know that your neighbor is getting the same thing done without sweating it out but just by giving the clerk an additional fifty rupees to get it done behind the doors. It takes courage to say no to giving bribes; taking bribes is an altogether different aspect. Only when there are givers can there be takers. Money is something which most people have and some have in ‘excess’; but it is guts that we lack, the guts to say — ‘you better get the work done on time or I’ll bring you to task before the law.’ Things will start to work when each of us put in an effort. We too are a part of the system not merely viewers.
It takes time; it will definitely take a long time. Patience and perseverance is what is needed. The temptation to fall into the trap of giving or taking bribes is too huge, but your principles must guide you, not simply status messages or ‘likes’. To be a social activist is a tough task, but the opportunity it gives to change the society and the system is satisfying. Each one of us should don the role of a crusader; how much ever small role it may, every part and every character of it is important, just like the little squirrel helping Lord Rama build the bridge to Lanka along with the monkey brigade.