"Be the change you want to see in the world" – M K Gandhi
A friend of mine, talking about corruption once said, "India is like this only, we just have to flow with the tide… who has the time to spend… it’s just not worth it".
Another friend, a senior manager in a reputed company, talking as if corruption was a commodity, once said, "This is the going rate… what’s wrong in paying?".
Attempts to refute these statements and questions were resulting in long debates and at the end of it, strained relationships… so I breathed deeply and let it pass… maybe the day will come when they realise that things could have been different.
These days, these same friends are wearing "I am Anna" caps and black T-shirts, in support of the anti-corruption uprising. Maybe the day has come when they do realise that things can be different?
Lokpal or no Lokpal, the time has come to wake up… to stop being selfish… to change our attitudes to life… so that our children don’t face the same corruption issues that we do today. We cannot let this opportunity go by.
What can we do to help in reducing corruption in India? Here is a starting list.
- Do not offer to pay anything more than the official charges for birth/ death/ marriage certificates. If the waiting time is 3 days, then don’t ask for it at once by paying a bribe.
- Do not offer a bribe to the policeman when you are caught for talking on the cell-phone. Instead, ask him how much the fine is, pay after getting a receipt and don’t talk on the cell-phone while driving ever again.
- Do not bribe the RTO officials to get your driving licence renewed/ vehicle fitness certificate at the RTO. Instead, go to the helpdesk at the RTO and follow the instructions.
- Do not bribe the BWSSB line-man to open the valve to release water. Instead, visit the concerned BWSSB office and get a schedule of the water timings and enforce them on your line-man.
- Do not bribe the electrical inspector who visits your apartment, expecting an all-clear certificate. Instead, let him do his inspection, give you the defect list, and you rectify the defects to get an all-clear certificate.
- Do not bribe the BESCOM officials for getting the meter transferred to your name. Instead, go to the senior officer, check all the requirements, and follow the prescribed procedure
- Do not bribe the BBMP officials to get your property registered. Instead, keep all the documents ready and have them checked by the officials before the registration so that they cannot stall you on the day.
- Do not bribe the BBMP officials for getting your khata registered/ transferred. Instead, get a list of the requirements from them, keep all your papers in order, get them checked by the BBMP officials before submission and force them to do their job.
- Do not bribe the policeman for the passport-verification process. Instead, fulfill all the requirements he mentions.
- Do not pay the road sweeper for sweeping in front of your house. It is her/ his job and is being paid for it. Instead, if you feel you want to pay extra, do it during a festival like Diwali, Id or Christmas.
… The list can go on.
Remember, whenever, wherever…
- Do not worry if you do not speak the local language. Speak in English or Hindi… most likely you will get through.
- Do not offer a bribe and if asked for a bribe (aka service/ processing/ submission charges or fees) do not pay.
- Do not be embarrassed or scared to very politely tell them that you do not pay bribes and if this is the way they work then you will be constrained to tell the higher ups or the Lok Ayukta.
- If you still have a problem, approach the higher ups or the Lok Ayukta.
- Avoid middle-men (including agents, contractors, brokers, touts)… they only carry out the acts of corruption on our behalf.
All this may cost us… cost money and time. All this may test us… test patience and resilience. But, if we try to follow this and more, in our daily lives, then there is hope… hope that during our lifetime, we will see a changed India… an India where every day is not a challenge… and an India where all of us can breathe easier.