Monthly Archives: August 2011

Lokpal: Its our turn now…

Here are some of my humble thoughts and opinion on this Lokpal movement and corruption in India.

At this juncture given the fact that the Government has in principle agreed to Shri Anna Hazare’s demands, we are almost there… A Lokpal bill in the parliament that will create a system that punishes people in public service who are corrupt. So willingly or unwillingly, seemingly or truly the political system is going to their bit to curtail corruption. The new law would punish the corrupt within two years from the time a case is filled… Our assumption is that corruption is going to be all gone with this law… But think twice… Take a moment to introspect…

Do we really think people in public service like politicians, cops, and bureaucrats are the only ones responsible for corruption??? Perhaps one may not want to agree openly but the answer is NO.

I think as citizens, we have a lot more responsibility in eradicating corruption than the corrupt. It is not enough we just watch movies like Indian, Annian, Lage Raho Munna Bhai, and clap our hands, enjoy the movie and shout slogans with Anna Hazare Ji and at the end of it all forget our responsibility…

There are so many touch points of our everyday life that people want a shortcut… I think being corrupt is a ‘state of mind’… It is not that some people are always corrupt and all others are never corrupt. The moment a person is not able to follow the regular procedure due to circumstances and wants a short cut or an easy way out, there starts corruption.

Some examples:

If we go to a temple and find long que, we want to find someone whom we know in the Temple… we want to use his/her influence to see the God sooner than all the others who are waiting in line… Sometimes, I have seen people tipping security guards and priest for the same.. If we are not willing to wait to see the God, why do we go to temple… When a person is a part of the corruptive act, it does not seem to bother him/her. But when a politician does in 1000s of crores, it seems big and hence their blood boils…

The person who jumps a traffic light and is willing to tip off the police man is equally responsible for corruption as the policeman who takes the bribe. If you jump the light and it’s a mistake, face the consequence… Accept your responsibility to pay the fine. As soon as the policeman says are you willing to go to the court and pay the fine, the immediate reaction is how much should I pay you? Going to the court and paying fine for traffic violation is a lengthy process no doubt but not an impossible task. Believe me, the feeling of doing the right thing at the end of the day is priceless. I once had parked by mistake in a no ‘trespassing area’ in the Southern Railways office. I did not see the sign and parked, although was unintentional it was still a mistake. I decided to do the right thing. I spent the whole day in getting the FIR filled, then waiting in the court room for 4 hours for the judge to appear and pay Rs 300 as fine. The policeman who accompanied me to the court asked me why I went through the whole process and instead could have just tipped the other guy who caught me Rs 100. I just smiled at him and moved on because I know I did the right thing and I can sleep peacefully at the end the day.

How many people who raised slogans recently are actually willing to wait in all the necessary lines to apply for a passport or ration card or driving license and fulfill all the necessary documentation requirements? In a country of billions of people, there will be delays and there will be lengthy processing times for things… If getting a passport or ration card or DL is so important, follow the process. The notion that if we follow the process we will not be able to get anything done is a myth. Following the process will be time consuming but will surely get you the results. If everyone starts following the process, the delays should be substantially less because the system does not have any speed breakers.

Like the above, there are thousands of everyday touch points with various government agencies and authorities where the public should act more responsibly. All of us are good people. There are circumstances when there is a temptation to break the rule… It just takes a little bit to overcome that temptation. And we do that, we become humans who can distinguish the right from the wrong. Corruption does not stop when the corrupt stops taking bribe, it actually stops when the public are not willing to give bribe for anything.

The Lokpal Bill is a great starting point. Something apparently have been waiting from the 1970s is finally going to see the day. Thanks to Anna Hazare Ji, his team, the public who supported him, the media attention and the politicians ofcourse who are going to make this Bill a reality. But we have a long way to go and as citizens we have as much responsibility and should not absolve ourselves from that.

images from:
Anna Ji’s picture downloaded from http://www.blog.oneclickhappiness.com/2011/08/history-life-and-times-of-anna-hazare.html
Bribing picture downloaded from http://www.usoge.gov/training/module_files/ogewrkctr_wbt_07/b1.html