Saturday, October 29, 2011

Quid Pro Quo




Old woman, Mary John promised to the Virgin of Vellankanni, fifty candles if her daughter was returned safe from her trip to the Kailas Mansarovar. She, as penitence for her litter’s sin in seeking an alien and false God in lieu of the only true God she was sworn to, offered a special mass at the local parish church. And when her daughter came back from her highly trumpeted journey safe and healthy as when she left, Mary John was pleased that her God heeded her supplications.  Still ,when she was told that her daughter’s Land Cruiser almost went off the mountain road in Tibet , but was saved by a whisker she   thanked her God for sparing her daughter  from a life threatening danger . It dawned on her then the sleight of her God, taking away the life of the little white lamb in their house instead. It fell dead one day with no apparent reason (Life of beast are in any case insignificant comparison to human beings).As a bonus to her God she said a twenty one “Hail Mary’s” and twenty one “Our Father who Art in heaven”.

Rameshan Nair was an ardent devotee of the bachelor god Ayyappan who abodes in the hills of Sabarimala. Rameshan Nair is a private contractor and has his fingers in all lucrative civil works in town. He has this uncanny acumen and knack to tackle bureaucracy and the powers that be. He had insider information on the tender just called for the construction of the new Airport terminal that would run into multi million. He manipulated and with insider help defrauded the various quotes and had his bid as the sole tender and at a highly inflated price. He in turn had offered his God Ayyappan a gold crown studded with gems. And he promised to bring it to the abode of the God by himself, only that the contract must go to him. God relented, after all who would not in face of gratification? And Rameshan Nair bagged the contract.

Haji Ahmed had business of rectified spirit. Besides the few thousand litres of authorised licenses the bulk of the merchandise traded by the Haji was smuggled in from distant States. The standing contract with his God and his plenipotentiary was that no untoward must happen to the smuggling of rectified spirit that happens incessantly. His God has been faithfully abiding by the verbal understanding and Haji Ahmed used to uninterruptedly without fail dispatch a sizeable amount in currency to the Masjid treasury.

What is wrong in these three cases of commissions and gratification? They are approved by the heavens. Aren't they?

We have thousands of men and women in India from various religion and faith, scamper to many places of worship- temples, mosques, churches, etc and offer money and in kind for various favours they ask, in advance and post- happening. You help me achieve this, help me get this, save me from conviction, and I give thee in cash or kind. Perfect the quid pro quo begins with the holy Gods.

Thence what is misplaced and wrong about a minister making the extra few hundred millions for favours done to some selected industrialists, and what is wrong, sinful, unethical and unlawful in paying bribe and receiving gratification. The matter begins with God.


In matters of commerce, they say, the fault with Dutch is offering too little and asking just too much. But Indian culture has the opposite we are even handed in giving and taking. The art of graft begins in places of worship. Else how could one explain the throng of men and women flocking the temple at Tirupathi, with the alibi of the story that the Lord should not default in his contract with the Lord of wealth, Kubera? Why do we offer quid pro quo to God? This is not spiritualism if someone argues in that fashion. It is pure, plain and unbridled graft, like the ones that happen daily in Indian social, economic and political life. Why is it that only when it is offered or given to Providence it is offering and to A. Raja it is bribe?

Indians cannot live without giving and accepting gratification. It is engrained in our physiological system and body chemistry. Our culture and civilisation does not jettison that, it embraces. The difference in the same exercise, when offered or given to Gods is termed offerings and sacrifice and when it is handed out to a bureaucrat, a poor peon or an elected representative then becomes bribe.Is there something amiss in our interpretation of the act, the language?

Ours is a rich spiritual culture and heritage. It is claimed in all history books in our curriculum. We have hundreds of years of spiritual existence in India. And consequently, ideally the penury and sufferings in the country should be a misnomer. A spiritually rich country that can claim five thousand years of civilisation , that can offer thousands of years and ancient spiritual solace to the entire world - festering  itself in poverty, disease, hunger and infamy of various hues! A strange contradiction!



18 comments:

Mélange said...

Hilarious post Anil.

On your three narrations-I had this friend,who belonged to a very orthodox Semitic sect where they consider pilgrimage to a certain place is among the must do 5 things.Hope you got it.My friend who is a born rebel, after returning from her aunt,who had just been from this pilgrimage, was sharing some extreme life situations with me.Her aunty was so much relieved saying her that after this pilgrimage,she is just like a small baby-born according to their holy book.All her sins are gone and she is free,eligible for heavens.It's her good luck.My friend who was just having patience till then,bursted out asking her 3 valuable questions about three different sectors of people who have done the same pilgrimage (politicians,fanatics,terrorists) and stated if God is already granted special permissions to these for heaven,then she prays everyday Lord to plz make sure she is out of the nasty place..How'z that ?

Whether it's the story of Kuberan or our culture,it's all human imposed tales for self-release,expressions,motivations and so on..One Such God exists ? who is there to accept nonsense ? Horrible.And bringing this to compare the wicked ones,apart from your hilarious notes there,Anil, have you in anyway transplanted so called 'soul' of Sukumar Azheekode ? or a Ramjat Malani ? Clever..

Btw,our culture.Hypocrisy.We recite,money doesn't matter on a daily basis.Greed is but one silly word to describe us..We hide behind philosophy.Horrible !

Mélange said...

Hilarious post Anil.

On your three narrations-I had this friend,who belonged to a very orthodox Semitic sect where they consider pilgrimage to a certain place is among the must do 5 things.Hope you got it.My friend who is a born rebel, after returning from her aunt,who had just been from this pilgrimage, was sharing some extreme life situations with me.Her aunty was so much relieved saying her that after this pilgrimage,she is just like a small baby-born according to their holy book.All her sins are gone and she is free,eligible for heavens.It's her good luck.My friend who was just having patience till then,bursted out asking her 3 valuable questions about three different sectors of people who have done the same pilgrimage (politicians,fanatics,terrorists) and stated if God is already granted special permissions to these for heaven,then she prays everyday Lord to plz make sure she is out of the nasty place..How'z that ?

Whether it's the story of Kuberan or our culture,it's all human imposed tales for self-release,expressions,motivations and so on..One Such God exists ? who is there to accept nonsense ? Horrible.And bringing this to compare the wicked ones,apart from your hilarious notes there,Anil, have you in anyway transplanted so called 'soul' of Sukumar Azheekode ? or a Ramjat Malani ? Clever..

Btw,our culture.Hypocrisy.We recite,money doesn't matter on a daily basis.Greed is but one silly word to describe us..We hide behind philosophy.Horrible !

R.Ramakrishnan said...

Hi dropped in thro KP. Interesting and thought provoking post. But are such contradictions peculiar to India alone ? These are globally prevalent practices.

adithyasaravana said...

ha ha... I read the whole post with a smile on my face..just now I finished writing something about religion and God..I am a firm believer, But I do not abhor People who are non believers.I have a great respect for Periyar,a staunch atheist, who bought about social revolution in tamilnadu.

Either it is warding off from untoward occurrences, or getting favours ,it is common to beseech god to intervene..well, He is rewarded back in cash and kind..
I do accept the fact that my God is incapable of changing the course of my life as I please, I do believe in a personal God..but this submissiveness gives me a sort of High..
Maybe Marx is right in telling that religion is the opium of masses..:)
I feel sometimes I am drunk till I am Heady..;))

ousu said...

Anil - Quid Pro Quo, just what humans expect out of everything that they know, they built and they gave shape.. if ever some one designs a way to do the trade with death, get an extra hour of life, probably that will be the biggest stir in the market and you and I could, definitely work a negotiable contract as to the percentage ;)

Happy Kitten said...

Yes.. blame it all on the Gods... be it the confession or the pilgrimage the "poor" masses have been taught that their sins will be forgiven if.....

and is it the Gods or the masses who have conveniently forgotten that they are also asked not to repeat?

This brings to my mind a relation who made tons of money clandestinely but gave generously to the Church and priests.. he even spent much on newspapers for inserting the "Favors rvd.. thanks to a random saint" columns..

anilkurup said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anilkurup said...

@ Melange/R.Ramakrishnan/AdityaSaravanan/Osu/Happy Kitten

By far I see that the comments are bordering or are directed at the matter of worship , and the existence of God.

In fact I have not intended to initiate discussion on theism or atheism. I only wanted to touch upon the relative similarity if not the mind set of offerings and payments be it to what we call God or to a politician or bureaucrat to get things done, for favours expected and received.Intention was to think loud.

And yes indeed India is an exception in matters of faith and greasing hands be it with almighty or the mortals in power. There are no gimmicks like "Laddus" and "aravanas" at the Vatican ,
Jerusalem , is though a holy centre for various faiths is journeyed to more on tourism.

Indian's believe that any one can be bought and all have a price tag be it God or be it A.Raja.And that there is nothing lacking in ethics or immoral in such a thought .
Can some one suggest something to the contrary?


@ R. Ramakrishnan,

Thank you for coming to the Blog. The reply to your observation is included in my general reply above.
Hope to see you often.

Happy Kitten said...

Since one cannot take spirituality out of the majority of Indians [here let me assume that atheists are a minority :)], conditioning of the mind cannot be ignored. Vatican or any other Church elsewhere may not take laddus or the likes, but the "Confession" and the various "Hail Mary's" or "Qurbanas" in return for peace of mind is similar.
Many hold God to ransom and tell him that since I am doing you such a favor, you better do what I am telling you.. of course not outwardly :)...

Think this is universal and not just in India.. and this hand greasing of the authorities may be curbed if laws are toughened.

anilkurup said...

@ Happy Kitten,

“ Spiritualism?” What is that? Something inanimate equated with animism? Or is it something perceptional and inanimate? I understand it also involves closing one’s eyes and chanting , mantras or Hail Mary’s or threading rosary till kingdom come. It also involves idolatry, hero worship a’la temples and churches .Equate that with the hero worship we show to politicians etc whom we consider more powerful than us like God. So here again we are using the same policy flatter to deceive!
Confessions , who ever invented it is a good psychological suggestion a kind of auto suggestion, that unburdens one of guilt of having done wrong. But now ,it is only a means that can be often used to wash all sins and start afresh to sin.
Toughen laws? Who will? We are all equally culpable. Aren’t we? We literally follow the dictum, “give unto Caesar what is due to Caesar and to God what is due to God.”

Daniel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daniel said...

I have a rough idea about the evolution of forms of government starting from theocracy to monarchy to dictatorship to democracy. I think the culture of bribe must have started from theocratic and monarchist forms of government where they God/temple/church is the most powerful person/body, and a common-man has to provide "something" to them to get going. But offerings continue to exist even though the forms of government have changed :)
Autocratic and democratic forms of government are the most dominant forms of government now and have inherited the culture of bride from theocracy and monarchy. This is not there only in India but all over the world.

Latha Vijayakumar said...

Very nice post. I am admiring you. Beautiful writing.

NRIGirl said...

Seems to me this is two posts in one or written in parts - separated at the image.

Found it quite interesting how the mind flows...

kavita said...

I want(not buy) one 'treadmill' , if someone gifts me one i will offer 51 ladoos to God .

anilkurup said...

@ Daniel,

I understand that even from the very early pagan times man has been offering products of his toil to the forces of nature and inanimate that he thought were supreme.


But when you look around now, you do not see it in the intensity and commercial fervour of plain "quid pro quo" as we notice in India.
Perhaps the caste system and its set of rules and regulations played its part in the evolution.

How else, can we, Anna or no Lokpal explain the general acquiescence
of the masses , the resignation to bribery, giving and taking? Offerings for favours are at the heart . aren't they?

@ Latha Vijayakumar,

Thank you for coming on to this Blog. I appreciate your comments be it good are critical.

@ Happy Kitten,

No this was written in one go. Yes , I pen what comes in my mind. No premeditation . That is why I call it musings.



@ Kavita,

Good that your absence from the Blogdom is past.

By the way don't you feel that asking for a Tread mill is trifle insignificant and he /she may feel peeved that you offer something in return for just a tread mill?

Meera Sundararajan said...

Making deals with all, including God seems to be the way of life with us. Then there is also the issue of doing " Prayashcityam" to get over sin or " Paapam"- everything has a price! I should not be so scornful because I have also been sometimes guilty of this. But my kind of deal with god is different e.g I usually negotiate giving up something I love for a specified period! :-) I am trying to get rid of this habit. But it is a childhood malady- refuses to go!

anilkurup said...

@ meera Sunderajan,

yes the affliction from childhood you have is understandable. In a way that is the problem we all face.
Sacrificing, or giving up something, we love- money to gain something we love more wealth is what I tried to discuss about. And that exactly is quid pro quo, isn't it? Give and take ,a fascinating respectable phrase!!!!