Sunday, July 29, 2012

You, Yes YOU are Corrupt

Corruption is the latest chick in town. Its hot, Its happening and its trendy. Everyone seems to be talking about it. It has caught the imagination of this 'Young' country and the population has begun to display a rat-like behaviour- running after the pied piper, who himself is surrounded by rats of extraordinary quality. In case you didn't get the subtle reference, I meant Lord Anna here. People are out on the streets demanding 'freedom from corruption'. The youth is bombarding the social media to bring about an 'Indian spring'. The country is boiling in a delicate frying pan, despite the fact that the gas beneath it, is visibly turned off.
Just the other day I came across a teenager wearing a white Gandhi cap. He was a part of a group that was protesting against corruption. Here is a transcript of the conversation that I had with him-

" I Love your cap", I said, "You mind telling me where you bought it?"
"They are distributing it for free", he said, pointing towards a stall in the corner where numerous such caps rested one over the other.
"Do you know what its called?" I asked.
"Yeah," he said as a matter of fact, "Anna Topi".
I was a little taken aback. It did have "I am Anna" written in bold, black letters.
"Its actually a Gandhi cap", I tried to correct, "It takes its name after the Father of the Nation".
"Whatever", he remarked," Gandhi was Rahul Gandhi's grandfather. Might be as dumb"
Now this was a serious intermix of relations- personal and political. Yet, I decided to press further.
"What are you protesting against?", I asked.
" Corruption", came the one word reply.
"And how do you think it'll be eliminated?"
"Lokpal", another single word.
"What will a Lokpal do?"
"He will arrest everybody who is corrupt. Even the Prime Minister, the President and everyone else. Our Constitution guarantees a Lokpal"
I was almost about to laugh. Getting a hold over myself, I proceeded, "Do you think this protest will get you a Lokpal?"
"Congress is corrupt. MMS is impotent. We are a democracy. I have the right to speak".

This was nothing short of a slogan. A slogan that has been reverberating across the genus of pseudo-intellectuals today. I really didn't know how to continue the conversation further and thus I walked away. However, it did set me thinking. Are these half-baked truths, persistent character assassinations, dirty blame games and irrelevant knowledge going to lead us anywhere? Why have we suddenly developed this herd mentality? Why this continuous search for a magic wand? If we, as a nation, have to deal with corruption, we are just not looking at the right places. Cleansing corruption needs a conscience, more than it needs a law.

At the outset, let me clearly state that an anti-Anna opinion does not automatically become pro-Congress. Just like "Don't Vote for Congress" does not by default translate into "Vote for BJP". Nevertheless, we as an aware citizenry need to understand a few basic facts. Facts which will determine which course our nation takes in the future; Facts which will give the coming generations a breathing space; Facts which will help us make an informed choice. Let us get to them, one by one.

Fact 1#- Corruption is Omnipresent, Omniscient,Omnipotent. You just cannot deny its existence. It was there in the past, It is here in the present and if things continue the way they are, It will be heightened in the future. Hire a cab, the driver will charge you more than he needs to. That's corruption. Go to a school. The administrator will charge a few hundred bucks to get your child admission. That's corruption. Drive a car. The traffic policeman will charge you some undisclosed amount to help you avoid the 'hassles' of court. That's corruption. And thus the fact remains that we, the people of India, who have been granted immense liberties in the Constitution, happily forget our duties and indulge in massive everyday corruption. After all who wants to go to a court? Who wants to lodge a complaint against a bribe-seeking officer? Who wants to tread the right path? We all are always looking for some 'under-table' deals or some 'Chai-Pani'to spare us the horror of following rules. When there is a procedure to follow, we vouch for a shortcut. Who has the time to stick around an office and claim his/her rights? Don't we then deserve what we get? If A.Raja bungles up a whopping amount out of the taxes we pay, it is us, who have acted criminal from the very start. One by, electing him to power and Two by finding various routes to escape taxation. Always remember, the money we hide from the authorities is as black in colour as the money that is reportedly stashed away in Switzerland.

Fact 2#- Corruption is not a Congress-specific phenomenon. The UPA government just happens to be in power at the wrong time. At numerous platforms, at various junctures, I have seen people uttering nonsensical words and shoving spectacularly idiotic arguments in each other's faces. Twitter, by personal experience, has been a victim. A breed of 'Internet Hindus' has cropped up. I am told these are full-time workers who get paid for lambasting the Congress party. I am not sure if that is true but the way false information and empty rhetoric is dominating the social media today, the prospect seems very likely. Ms. Sonia Gandhi, for them, is an Italian Christian. Mr. Rahul Gandhi is a dumb fool. Dr.Singh is an impotent PM and the entire cabinet is the 'Chambal of dacoits'. How ironical is the fact that the people who uptil a few years ago showered praises on the Gandhi-Singh duo, today leave no stones unturned to malign their character. Let me illustrate this with an example.

Have a look at this picture. This is circulating like wildfire on the Internet and is being touted as a validation of the Congress Party's corruption. Anyone with a decent command over English will be able to spot a minimum of five grammatical mistakes in the text. Have the Swiss authorities forgotten their basic language lessons? The letter gets the logo incorrect, the name of the bank incorrect and not to forget, in its entirety, it violates all agreements of confidentiality ever signed. And I am still wondering, why would the Swiss 'Corporation' choose to address the letter to the 'Indian Government' and then release it on Facebook.
The fact here is, that the NDA government, when it was in power, was as guilty of corruption scandals as the UPA is. The difference lies only in the fact that media coverage and transparency in functioning of both, has grown from then to now. In today's times, you merely need to file an RTI application to expose a Kalmadi. Back then, you had to conduct a sting operation to nab a Bangaaru Laxman. Without getting into the details of which is a better alternative, I'd only reaffirm one statement "ELECT WITH INTELLIGENCE". The power to vote in a democracy is much more significant than any other power. Verify the credentials of the contestants and vote on merit. Its quite another unfortunate matter that those who cry their throats hoarse shouting anti-corruption slogans today, are the same people who accept cash, accept liquor and accept women as a compensation for their vote during elections.

Fact 3#- Anna is not God. Neither is Baba Ramdev. The sooner we understand this, the better. In this nation of traditional ambiguities and growing individuality, we have surprisingly pegged our hopes to men, who we know absolutely nothing about. No one wants to know how Anna Hazare got the scourge of liquor eradicated from his village. We conveniently turn a blind eye to the complaints of people who were mercilessly bound to poles and beaten up, with a stick. Also no one questions the sudden rise of Baba Ramdev to international fame and popularity. From practicing the simplicities of Yoga, to running the complexities of a multimillion conglomerate, his rise has been phenomenal. Yet, when we are shown a mirror, we look away and cry conspiracy. Is this how we plan to run the "Jaago India" campaign? Are certain individuals above all other institutions for which this country fought? Truthfully, this agitation has lead the country into a deep quagmire today. Not only has it slowed down the policy making structures but it has also created uncertainty in the nation's economic climate. Investors have begun to doubt the political stability of the country. And as a domino effect, we are losing out on jobs, employment, income equality and social parity. Still, who do we hold responsible for it? Our Prime Minister! Just to put things in perspective, it was the same guy who opened this country to the globe. In other words, the clothes that we wear today, the phones that we use, the cars that we travel in and the computers we are reading this on, were brought into this country due to the efforts of the man we today have as the head of state.

I am sure this article would invite a lot of ire. And I am prepared. They say, when you don't have an answer, you raise your voice. When that doesn't work, you raise your hand. The sole unfortunate fact is,that we, the hypocrites we are, don't channelize our energies where we should.

You want to get rid of corruption? Well, here is the Mantra- STOP giving bribes. STOP accepting compensations. BE honest to your NATION. ELECT sensibly. VOTE when you must. Raise your VOICE. COMPLAIN against the official. Don't stay QUIET. If you can't do any of these, I am sorry to say but You, Yes YOU are corrupt too.

As a final word, the next time you point a finger at how the politicians are ruining your livelihood, make sure you have black ink on it.