Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bolé To, Corruption is Sometimes Sweet

I have been a wanderer throughout since childhood. This is substantiated by the fact that I stayed in 18 houses in Delhi and around, and 10 houses in abroad, in my fifty years. I have seen many incidents, good and bad, which are enough to turn around the mindset of a person. I, like most, do not support corruption in any way, but some of its form has coaxed me to think again in the matter.

Walking through the main streets of Damascus on a sunny afternoon, I found an old man with his fourteen years old son sitting beside the road. They were selling some fruits on a cart. Though the traffic was heavy on the road, there were only a handful of pedestrians walking. It was clearly evident that the sale of those local fruits were negligible. I felt pity for them as they were sulking under the heat. On the next day, I found them again sitting there. The looks on their face clearly said everything. I couldn’t resist myself, but suggested them to sit two hundred yards ahead where the open space beside the same road had plenty of shades. The old man replied that such cool places cannot be invaded by hawkers. A week later, I had found only the boy sitting at the same place under the sun. On enquiring, the young fellow said that his father was bedridden. Further, after a couple of days, I couldn’t find their cart there.

It was in 1994, I was driving through the Nyerere Road of Gaborone in Botswana. Suddenly I was given a signal by a few policemen to halt. Putting myself on the brake and halted at the side, I came to know that it was due to over speed. The policeman who came to serve me, had taken out his receipt book and asked me to shell out Pula 100 (US$50) as fine. As an Indian, I took him on the side, putting my one hand around his shoulder, as a gesture of friendship. I offered him Pula 10 for his own, as is the practice with Indian Police. I was astonished to see that he couldn’t understand my point of view. He was rather astonished to see Pula 10 being paid instead of Pula 100. I tried my best to make him understand that the Pula 10 was given to him as sweets for his children. After pursuing him for half an hour, he enquired, why I was not paying him the fine money, when I was so kind to pay for sweets. I lost hope and abandoned him by paying the fine.

In many countries, unlicensed vendors are considered as law-breakers, and are subject to lawful detention. In most countries, except our sub-continental ones, rules are strict and are followed. A poor fellow cannot sit anywhere to sell his stuff. In Delhi, I have seen plainclothes policemen visit the temporary vegetable markets, with a register in their hands, and taking commission from the vendors. At 25, I had animosity for these cops taking commission from those underprivileged people. I also had indignation while paying bribe to the traffic police near traffic lights for insignificant break of law. But now, at 50, and after looking around many places, I feel these trifle corruptions are the necessities of life, they are sometimes sweet.


Blogger abstract said...

"Corruption is Sometimes Sweet"
This obviously stems from the fact that the law is not always based on principles of morality, but rather on the 'convenience of the many' and sometimes the 'greater good'.

Moreover, it should be noted that the corruption you are talking about is legal, and not moral.

August 29, 2008 at 2:06 AM  

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