Yesterday on my way home from work, I heard a certain radio commercial, which went like this...'an arrogant guy wants to enter a restaurant/bar but is stopped by the manager, since there is private party going on and entrance is on invitation basis only. The arrogant guy refuses to budge and starts taking names of certain influentional people (government officials) inorder to get entry. Finally, the manager gives in and allows the guy to enter. The ad ends with the tag-line 'IT PAYS TO HAVE THE BIG GUYS ON YOUR SIDE, WHO DO YOU HAVE?'.
It got me to thinking, about some of the incidents/events which I have personally seen or observed, which made me realize that the ad's tag-line stands so true. Once again it made me realize the implications of the extent of corruption that have come to occupy so much space in our society and it's menacing proportion which is threatening the very foundations of our society and State. According to me, even an act where people break certain rules/regulations without actually engaging in money/goods exchange, just on the basis of influential contacts could be defined as a corrupt behavior, which most of us indulge in pleasant or un-pleasant circumstances.
Here are some of the recent incidents from personal experience -
1. Just last week, a close family friend opened up a posh nightclub in one of the suburbs. Now according to the state rule, Mumbai night clubs have to shut down by 1.00 Am on week days. This rule is exempted for nightclubs that are based in 5 star hotels. Now I have seen quite a few clubs which have been raided by cops for being open beyond the allocated time. So this means that the cops are doing their job, well not exactly. The family friend's uncle is the DCP of Mumbai, which inturn means that the club has the indirect-authority stay open beyond 1.30 am for business.
Another example of the same can be given for club 'Vie' in Juhu. Mrs. Smita Thackarey is one of the five partners of the club, therefore Juhu station allows it to be open till 3.00 Am during week days.
2. I work in the garments manufacturing industry, till the beginning of this year we had 'Excise' rule imposed on us. Now every year, we had these excise government officials who would come to our factory to inspect the invoice and other official papers. Inorder to make them clear our company papers which would enable us to get some monetary refund of the 'excise' amount that we had paid to the government, we had to keep these guys happy. Mind you, not that we had done anything un-official or some ghapala and therefore were paying these guys to clear it for us. It's just that if you do not please them, they would simply remove un-necessary faults and thereby delay the entire process.
Now that the 'excise' rule has been lifted, these guys still come-over without any prior notice and take loads of garments from us for 'FREE' and we allow them do so because we never know, tomorrow the rule might be enforced again.
3. One of our senior sales guy is going thru a major crisis. The house he had purchased couple of months ago, turned out to be from bank loan taken by the previous owner. Now, the bank has issued a notice against our sales guy and threaten to take the house, since the previous owner has not paid the loan. To cut the long story short, we contacted the local police station and filed a criminal case against the previous owner. To take advantage of this situation, the head police officer keeps sending his man every second day to take some free clothing from our company. Some times, its trackpants for his wife and some times cricket set for his son.
We have to go along with this, otherwise the cops won't do their job. The previous owner happens to be a senior accountant at a MNC. So with the help of his boss's high influence seems to be getting away with murder here. However the fight and struggle is still on...wish us luck !
4. This event is the most painful and heart breaking for me and it occurs every damn year. Just before the local elections in the area where our company is located, the standing politicians will send their goons to collect 'chanda' which actually means 'hafta'. We have to pay them obscene amount, why because if we don't then we land-up suffering miserably. For example, these guys control most of the worker-unions. In many instances, these politicians don't give a hoot about the workers but sadly, the un-educated workers seem to take them as their messiah and see us as the bad guys. They have the power to bring middle-size company to a standstill by starting a 'strike'.
In an overly competitive garment industry, even a small-scale 'strike' could be the end of the company. This crime is just not limited to the elections, they keep coming around asking for 'chanda' at times for Ganesh festival, Diwali festival, Party meetings - it's an on-going process and we bear the brunt all year round.
In 1985, my dad did oppose to this injustice and filed a report against a certain politician. And what happened after that seemed just out of a commercial Bollywood movie. My dad was attacked by a mob on his way back from work in the middle of a busy traffic light. Luckily and thanks to the help of few passersby that my dad was saved. After that we received numerous kidnapping threats and murder threats. This did not stop my dad and finally the culprit was arrested but after few months was let loose again. During that time, my factory was shut down for nearly 6 months. I remember my dad and his few loyal staff would stay up late at night working, preparing court papers.
But today we cannot afford to take such risks, we were lucky to survive then BUT maybe this time we won't.
The above events portray two dimensions of corruption. One is the 'exploitative corruption' where the public servant exploits the helpless poor citizen. The other is 'collusive corruption' where the citizen corrupts the public servant by a bribe because he gets financially better benefits. Some how I feel,the growing State intervention in economic and social life has vastly increased the scope of corruption.
Today a person is giving importance more on the basis of 'who he knows' rather than 'what he does'. It's a sad reality that is stumped right in our face, every bloody day.The public at large has become cynical and tends to accept the evil as natural.
For your information :
The most corrupt departments are -
Central Government: Customs, Excise, Income Tax, Defence Procurement, Central PWD, Industries, and Railways.
State Governments: Commercial Taxes, Police, Regional Transport, Education, and Registration.