Corrupting Ourselves At Convenience

Posted on January 26, 2012 in Specials

By Kunal Anand:

Our flat in Delhi did not have a dedicated water connection. The owner had applied for it and after getting the necessary approval from the Delhi Jal Board (who were very co-operative), today, the process of making the connection started. When the workers started to dig a small stretch of the road to make the connection, a policeman on his Royal Enfield arrived. He demanded to see the necessary documents. Our documents were still with a man who was responsible to get it from the Jal Board. I called up the person and he said it would take him an hour to reach there. The policeman started getting restless.

My neighbors talked to him and suggested me and my friend to give him some ‘Chai-paani’ (bribe) and get the work done. But we didn’t. I said that since we had the proper documents, we would prefer to wait for an hour than to grease the palms of a government employee. The policeman used his time to eat oranges (without paying of course) from a roadside vendor. My resolve not to bribe him strengthened. My neighbors said that he might ask us to visit the police station if we didn’t pay him. We were game for it as we had done nothing wrong.

Finally, the papers arrived after 45 minutes and the policeman left. We felt good and proud for having resisted the temptation to get the work done the easy way by bribing. But one question that disturbs me is what would I have done in case I didn’t have the proper papers? There have been instances in the past when I have bribed the ticket-checker in the train to get a berth in case I didn’t have a confirmed seat. Even for my driver’s license, I paid an agent as I wanted it quick. Isn’t my honesty and uprightness all about convenience? I guess most of us do the same. It’s difficult to resist the temptation. After all, if spending a few extra bucks saves us all the headache of standing in a queue or waiting for months for an LPG connection, then so be it.

But the bigger question is if we do so, then what right do we have to call a government corrupt or a policeman greedy? As far as I can see, if they are the ones asking for bribes, it’s we standing on the other hand ever-eager to oblige them.

Have you faced an incident when you gave a bribe for your convenience? Share in the comments section below.