All for chai-paani
Ever seen the expression on the faces of passengers the moment they see a railway ticket examiner catch someone travelling without a ticket? It has ‘thank-god-it-wasn’t-me’ written all over it.
Why not? We love recounting boastful stories about how we ‘got away’ scot-free, how our ‘baggage was unchecked’, or how nobody ‘asked for our identification’.
Corruption is a crime. Paying a bribe is also one. However, accepting the notion that the bribe is to be paid anyway, only worsens the malaise, since in this instance, acceptance is a sign that society has succumbed to it.
In a mission to fight corruption, in August this year, a non-profit organisation launched a website called ‘I Paid a Bribe’ (www.ipaidabribe.com), which allowed users to anonymously declare and share accounts of when they paid, accepted or declined a bribe. The website, in this way, also claims to track the ‘market price of corruption’.
Awanti Bele, one of the people behind IPaidaBribe, says, “Discussing corruption evokes a familiar pattern of reactions. Most people accept it as inevitable and unavoidable. Many even say that nothing should be done about it; that it’s a form of gift-giving and that at least, the corrupt deliver efficiently. Most people also see corruption as a social trend arising out of an erosion of value systems.”
According to the research by Janaagraha, the organisation which runs the website, there are seven common excuses for accepting and condoning corruption.
1. Corruption is everywhere. 2. Corruption always existed. 3. The concept of corruption is vague and culturally determined. 4. Cleansing will require a whole change in attitudes and values. 5. Corruption is not harmful; it is the grease that moves the economic engine. 6. Nothing can be done if the people at the top are corrupt and corruption is systematic. 7. Don’t worry, with the free market, it will eventually go away.
On Ipaidabribe.com, the most commonly reported instances of...