At present, I am living in my village. Of course, it is more of an option to me than a choice. For almost ten years I could not live in my village. Reasons were the residential schools and the college afterward. Meanwhile, whenever I came to my village during the vacations it was a heavenly feeling for me, as experienced by the 60s-70s-80s Hindi cinema’s city returned protagonists having their noble roots in villages. I would be mesmerized at the then-apparent peaceful and pious environment of my village that spread seamlessly through other neighboring villages as well. Maybe it was true; since people seemed genuine and true to me at that time or maybe I could not analyze the black faces behind the white masks then.
Long before all that when I was 6-7 years old and when I would go to the Sarkari school e.i the Primary school of the Bihar government. On the way to that primary school of the Bihar government came a PDS shop, where as a child I would look onto the black tin-board adorned with the white letters revealing the fare prices of rice, wheat, sugar, kerosene oil and pulses. I can only remember this much. On asking my grandfather or father or any elder we got as answer that it was a dealer’s home. A dealer in local language meant and it still means the person authorized as the PDS Vendor. That person whose house we crossed on the way to the school had been a dealer long before. But at that time someone else was the dealer who the people said had bribed the officials to get the dealership transferred from that person to their name.
Only God knows what the truth was.
Many dealers came and went, at the present, the same person whose house came en route the Primary school is the dealer of my area ( There are many in my village and subsequently in my Panchayat and every one of them has their areas decided by the government officials.).
Today on 23- Feb-2017, that dealer is distributing kerosene oil to the eligible persons. By eligible persons I mean those having their names in the beneficiary’s list of the government. When I was studying in my room which is outside the main door, a boy named Saddam knocked the door asking for the stapler to staple the PDS coupons.
“Why are you stapling all, when you have to give it to the dealer to get the oil every month?” I asked.
“Not every month, we have to submit it at once”, replied that tenth class student.
“But this way how could you know that if you have received the oil for every month because he might skip a month or two and say that you have received your entire quota.”
He smiled and answered, “He always does the same. Takes all the coupons at once and distributes for only ten or eleven months’ quota.”
“And if anyone wishes not to submit all at once then?”, I asked again.
“He says lena hai toh lo nahin toh jao”(Take if you have to, on my conditions, or go.)
I was like, Oh; the big man has his conditions.
Looking at the coupon I saw the price was 17.60 INR per liter of Kerosene.
But asking for that got to know that he pays 23 INR per liter.
I stopped studying and came out to inquire others about the situation. Everyone had their stories same when it came to the condition of surrendering the coupons, which includes a beneficiary copy as well. I.e. overall he collected the two copies of a coupon for each month. And it was same for the ration’s coupons as well.
And when I asked about the prices they paid, every story deviated from each other drastically. Someone said 25, some 20 and the range varied from 20 to 26 INR per liter and for the cereals also the prices for each individual varied significantly.
The whole Idea behind collecting all the coupons at once is of course for the purpose of devouring the items of a month or two. In case the Dealer is a strongman the number of months gone undistributed might increase also. All those items flow into the black market, giving rise to the price of such necessities, at the same time affecting the prices for the APL as well as the BPL and all other such categories of families.
Imagine this situation in all or at least most of the total of 238617 panchayats most of them having more than two dealers. The amount of the commodities flowing into the black market will come in millions of tonnes if calculated, which I will not do. Because data in India goes unseen and emotions ride mostly. And imagine the influence of all these on many price indices and inflation and all interrelated matters.
All these means that the dealer is not only making black money from his store directly but also from out of his store through the black market. And so where is the tax? Where is the fair distribution?
A few days earlier the official vehicle of the BDO of my administrative block Ghorasahan which touches Nepal on its north, passed the road near my home, I was sitting out on the open space out of my house and reading newspaper. People, after the vehicle passed, talked that the officer had come to assess and inspect the dealer’s works and his registers.
Today I think, “Wow, what a coincidence, an officer visits the PDS store on a day when no distribution is happening, so obviously he cannot find the collecting of coupons and other anomalies and thus the report goes ALL FAIR”
Look, an officer visits the PDS store on a day no distribution is happening, so obviously he cannot find the wrongdoings. But wrong and corrupt practices are indeed happening. I myself can prove it with evidence because it not a James Bond requiring incident. But I am sure that even James Bond cannot do anything as the bosses and their bosses and their bosses and so on, are all the birds of the same feathers here. Whom should the truth and evidence be revealed to? Everyone is on sale; all it takes is a right price.
I have been living in my village for 14 months now, the longest I have ever stayed here since 200a5. Today I find no genuine faces as I have seen the reality behind the masks of virtue that everyone is wearing here. They talk something else and do something 180 degrees opposite to it. When I became a whistleblower against three Desi liquor sellers two of them even sold marijuana imported from the neighboring Nepal, after the Liquor was banned in Bihar. I saw true faces of people.
I had disclosed the news to the police and excise superintendent secretly. The people had reactions like- “Why the hell somebody should interfere in his (the sellers) matters?”, “He is doing his work” and countless more with many words of abuse. Of course many would praise also, saying “at least somebody has the guts to stop all this“. Believe me, only these words keep me going.
The villages have gone far from identifying right from wrong as seen in classic Indian movies. The people here need better knowledge not only for increasing the literacy rate but also for enhancing their morality.
Corruption can not only be eradicated from the society by making rules and merely enacting them. We have to make sure that those executing it and those being governed by these rules should have the moral balance and character in themselves. And it is only possible by a quality education, which teaches not just how to be employed, but also the meaning of being human, the value of truth, the importance of mutual respect and most important of all the logic to identify the right from the wrong.