My Commentary On The Beginning of Corruption


I read this article and felt tempted to write a note on it. The article was published on 17th Dec’11  in The Statesman. M Kaempchen brought about some very interesting points. Here is the url: http://www.thestatesman.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=393713:special-article&catid=38:editorial&from_page=search

I have slightly different opinion on some of the points he mentioned.

Soon after a baby is born in India, a bed is given to him or her too. They are not taught to wet it, instead they are told not to. When a child cries, his parents tell him or her not to and try to pacify. That can be done in two ways – either by coercive manner or by pleasant manner. But in both of the cases, the objective is to teach the child not to cry and quarrel. When the mother or father speaks, children are not asked to interfere. These are more of common sense and have nothing to do with being protective. He is right when he says that Indian parents are more protective but that make the children risk averse – that creates less number of entrepreneurs, creates less number of bungee jumpers, creates more dependent people but definitely don’t make more corrupt human beings. A person who is late in standing on his own feet is not necessarily corrupt. He has been taught by his parents and by his school many a times on what is “right” and what is “wrong”. But preaching and practicing are two different things altogether and I find few different reasons for Indians being more susceptible to corruption.

Difficulty in leading a life –We all know things take time here. In spite of being efficient and educated and knowledgeable, you still have to fall an easy prey to the inefficiencies of the system that are around you. You know you want a better system, you know how it should be, but you can’t change it overnight. For getting a passport, you still have to spend a large portion of your life standing in the queue and running from one place to another. So, you pay some amount and get it done easily. Is it right? From the under-privileged standpoint “No” because you got a better service just because you had some more money. From that person’s standpoint, it is hell “Yes” because he saved pain and avoided wasting a portion of his productive life. Do you know of a system called “Express Courier Service”? You pay some extra amount of money so that your courier reaches quicker. What do you call it? Correct or Corruption? Just because it’s not a back door entry, its correct. Now, think about a system that is efficient and processes all claims in the order in which they have received and where there is no concept of bribe. Let’s see how we can achieve this. The government imposes a strict rule that each employee of the passport office must process X number of files each day and in the order they have been received. There is also a rule that defaulters will be punished. This includes some “right” in the system. But then, what happens to the average processing time? It is long because number of employees against number of passport aspirants is low. So, you increase the number of employees – you need infrastructure, investments, efficient IT enabled systems. Oh yes, you need them. How does the government recover this extra cost? It increases the cost and then a percentage of the people complain and protest of the price being higher. Another percentage starts demanding quicker service and agree to pay more money. You introduce an express service and then it becomes crowded too as the growth in number of people is even higher. So, there generates a latent need of getting an even more quicker service – Government cant introduce it. So, they bribe and get the job done.

Now, this has nothing to do with what they have been taught by their parents. Even if they had not been protective and told the kid many a times not to bribe, he would be doing the same thing as he wants convenience. The basic challenge that we face is the difficulty in living a life and absence of a strict rule. Make a strict rule that people spitting on the road will be punished heavily and it will come down. Similar rule was passed for smoking in public places and vehicles and it is now nothing compared to what it used to be. Rules and implementation of the rules will make it less prone to corruption – where I know that my things will be done without causing much pain to me. People bribe because they don’t get the best service otherwise. Make best service a habit and see how corruption comes down. If you expect a mentality change to happen, it will not happen automatically. We must start with the rules so that at least a major portion is taken care of and then handle other cases as they come.

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