Although I seldom watch TV, the events of last 3 days have forced me to switch on the Box so I can witness what Anna calls the ‘2nd movement to free India”. The congress has proved to the country that they are nothing but a bunch of good for nothing morons who double up as thieves when the opportunity arrives. I have maintained this belief always campaigning for the BJP in all the elections. My simple principle is that spineless people are no good as friends or enemies.
Media today is no different than sensationalism at its best not reporting the facts but what gives them the TRP’s. So if it’s good to make Anna a hero today they will do it and if tomorrow the tide turns they will end up making him a villain as well. With all my patriotic emotions bursting at the seams I was forced to do some soul searching, the prime driver being that whether I am qualified to support a movement against corruption. The answer sadly was a NO I am not Anna Hazare. How can I say something I really don’t believe in – Have I not paid a bribe ever ? I have. For some clicking a ‘like’ button is just something that makes them look good in the eyes of others but for me I will fall from grace in my own eyes if I did something like that.
But then I thought that perhaps I was being too hard on myself. I had paid a bribe but why did I do it. Am I a victim or a abettor of the crime. Well to set the record straight I have tried my best to avoid paying up wherever and whenever the system allowed me to but then there have been times when there was nothing I could do. I have to work to make the money to pay the government its ‘hafta’ and to keep myself afloat. I am not wired to quit my job and go around circling the of government offices living in a state of poverty. And who is it that I will be proving a point – to the 3 monkeys ?? Another consideration is that with no money the question of paying or not paying a bribe will itself wither away.
I have realized that for me paying a bribe has more to do with convenience than with morality or ethics. The concerns of my conscience are far larger than currency notes.
Going into the total recall mode I remembered how I used to keep a 50 Rs note handy so I can roll it as soon as a traffic cop approached asking me to go to the Police station with him or to take my driving license away only to be retrieved after appearing in front of the magistrate. But now with Bangalore Traffic cops having Blackberrys with printers I have graciously admitted my guilt each time I am on the wrong side of law, paid 100 bucks and happily walked away with a receipt. In fact I have some 5 of them with me as a symbol of a hidden pride in an efficient system that lets the citizens as well as the authorities do their duty with efficiency and honesty. To me the BBry traffic receipts are a symbol of a ‘free and fair’ India.
Let’s try and understand the concept and how things have changed for me. In the first instance when I was paying a bribe I justified that the penalty of wasting a day at the court and paying the fine as well was not commensurate with the offence of jumping a red light when it was almost orange. The law in this case was on the wrong side itself. But with the bbry I knew my sin, the penalty was just and I could absolve me and my soul by paying up and getting a receipt as a souvenir. And what is at the heart of this – transparency and ease of operation that drives compliance with convenience.
I have been canvassing about the wonderful experience I had with the Bangalore passport office. I paid up extra for the ‘tatkal’ but I got a receipt and my passport was delivered within the 2 working days as promised. I spent half a day at the passport office where everything was well organized and all of us understood that the delay is only because of the numbers getting serviced. That was not too bad either as it just took me 2-3 hours for the whole process sitting in a clean and comfortable air conditioned environment.
However for certain other cases I will continue to pay bribes. I cannot change the law which says that I should pay the government a property tax which is 15 % + some other taxes of the rental income even when I am already paying a 30 % income tax on my rental income itself on a house that I bought after paying all my income tax..And why the hell should I pay the property tax anyways when there are no roads or water in lieu of the registration and stamp duty already paid. The funniest thing is that we pay exorbitant amount as BWSSB charges not to get a drop of municipal water ! The guy at the property tax office wants a cut for looking the other way and I will do what’s best for me. Don’t you think that the options are pretty straight forward for a sane mind ? The system created a monster and I am just dodging it and moving on…I can fight it when there is an equal chance of winning but would not sacrifice my life for nothing.
In the book Shantaram Bhai Abdul Khader says – I don’t see how much crime is in the sin but I see how much sin is in the crime. That’s my guiding light when it comes to paying bribes. End of the day I care about myself and my family and not the Congress and its corruption brigade which garbs itself as the government.
I sincerely request all of you who read this post to keep a hand on your heart and dig deeper into your soul before wearing a Gandhian cap or a fancy T shirt. The fact is that the power we give in the hands of those who are supposed to serve will drive us again and again to the brink of Pay up or else ………