Friday, October 15, 2010

A Sad Reflection

The first incident happened a few years ago.
There are occasional inspections conducted on business units by the Inspector of factories in the town I live and work. But usually the trumpeted inspections happen a few weeks before the festive season of Deepavali, to remind business units to shell out the yearly quota of consideration to the Government officials. Unashamedly officers and their cahoots venture from departments like Income Tax, Provident Fund Directorate, Employees State Insurance Corporation, Inspector of Factories, Customs Dept, etc. And the exercise is clamantly conducted, both by the Business units and the officials!

At that point in time my business unit was not registered with the Provident Fund and ESI offices, though it in fact was statutory to be registered. More because of the unique situation in this business town where employees refuse to part with their contributions towards Provident fund and ESI. So the employers too did not pursue the matter much.

The via media was to grease the inspectors from the offices of Provident Fund and ESI.

Such an inspector began hounding me. And though I told him that I was willing to register with the department soon, he threatened that he will impose penal fine on me with retrospective effect. And that could run into a few lakhs in the least. The alternate was compromise formula where I part with twenty five thousand Rupees as my contribution to his kitty.I thought and declined. He used his official experience and clout to scare the hell out of me, laying down the other consequences even if I pay the fine or go for litigation.
I agreed to the via media. And he agreed to come early the next morning to collect the money. He did come and in tow a teen age boy with an attaché brief case. The money was received by the boy and he nonchalantly put it into his bag and ticked off in his diary against my name. The Inspector parted with a vigorous hand shake, and assuring me of his services all the while. I saw him to the door and then I enquired who the boy was. “Well this is my eldest son. He is second year in college”. said the Inspector. I stood staring at the father and son duo as they departed in their Maruti car.

Looking back at the very incident it is disturbing still. Because the parent initiates the child into a conduct and life that would be formatively very damaging .for the child! And when a handful or a dozen of such children grow into men and women the society will fall apart.I felt unkind to myself .

The second incident was of a similar kind, but had a different twist, more because of my recalcitrant attitude. An official from the fire Service called up and demanded contribution. I gave him a hundred Rupees. He refused to accept and demanded five thousand Rupees. I declined sternly. He made a quick inspection of the factory premises and declared that the fire extinguishers installed were far few than the requirement. And that was an infringement of the rules. Hence I could be penalized. An argument ensued. He did not reply to my question, as to what right he had to demand from me. But he threw the one hundred Rupee note on the table and jumped up  gesticulating. He warned that I will know his prowess when my premises faces a fire break out. And then he will ensure that not one fire tender is at our doors.

I remembered the pictures and stories about the NYFD on the day Sept 11 2002.
But well this is us!!!


A New Beginning said...

its just hopeless, I really dont understand where moral values have vanised from the lives of people...and its a disease thats caught many in its web...

dr.antony said...

Bribery is an important part of life in India. With an elaborate and almost Byzantine bureaucratic system and a long legacy of a corrupt civil service, it’s hard to escape the clutches of corruption. From handing over a hundred rupee note when you get pulled over for speeding to escape a ticket, to assuming that getting a file from the government offices will require “grease money,” to scams worth thousands of billions of rupees involving the top politicians in the country: we have come to accept corruption, while at the same time berating it at every juncture. Innovative means are sometimes used to fight it: there were reports recently of people in Orissa, a state in India, who printed a note with a denomination of zero rupees to give to officials demanding bribes in order to register their protest at this practice. Other states like UP and Rajasthan are leading the way.The Gulabi gang of UP and the Rajasthan muster verification initiative to mention few.Literate places like Kerala have shameful places.
But so long as we play along,there will be no end to this.

Shilpa Garg said...

Corruption is a global phenomenon, but I believe it is our religion in India.
The sad and sorry state of affairs, truly!! Will we ever break free from it's shackles?

anilkurup said...

@ A New Beginning

Hopeless? Well if we say so we will be termed pessimistic and cynical.

dr Antony

You well described the malady that is endemic .But can we bee free from a certain responsibility?I felt ashamed when I paid the fellow. That was not the last time either, to confess. And don't know how often in future.

But the unfortunate reality- outrageous it is , was the father taking the son along as a kind of a trainee in the art of sleaze and corruption.
Can you imagine the boy when he grows into an adult?

anilkurup said...

@ Shilpa Garg,

Yes indeed it is a religion in this country with more following than the conventional religions.

Insignia said...

Oh!! Oh!! you know I am sick of bribery in our country. I have so many incidents to share. Just hope things improve.

anilkurup said...

@ Insignia,

Good that you are travelling now and can gather encouraging subjects to talk about .
But there is no possibility of wishing away the decadence here!

Balachandran V said...

Well, another round of India-bashing, uh? What did that picture say? 'I have a right to use bribery to get my needs met'? When a policeman or a lowly babu in a government department says it, one almost sympathizes. But, in India, the scale of corruption is geometrically proportionate to the scale of status. The higher you are, the higher is the bribe and degree of corruption.

I think it was quite smart of the PF inspector to bring along his son. what is the point in hiding the truths of life from him?

On the other hand, non-deduction of PF and ESI contribution wasn't a smart thing to do,was it? Or not to keep the statutory number of fire extinguishers?

I am sure all of us will have many such stories to tell - I would like to listen to someone who has accepted a bribe,- even if it is a bottle of Scotch { Anil? ;) }.

anilkurup said...

@ Bals
What else can an Indian do other than bashing himself?
This is why I opine that none of us are epitome of morals and ethics we speak aloud. Each one of us are varyingly responsible dont you think so?
And Bals you can exempt the Scotch. I will not talk about accepting the spirit as bribe because I have had many a drink of that bribe , ha ha ha, you know for sure.

kaalpanique said...

its the oil without which the indian machinary doesnt run it possible to fight it?

anilkurup said...

@ Kalpanique,

When we accept corruption as an indispensable noble act , how could one fight. Look at the sham in the Assembly of Karnataka.
Do we need any more proof that as of now it is a lost fight. I wish some one could challenge my view and prove otherwise.

RGB said...

Father initiating his son into the act of bribery? It couldn't get worse!