Anna Hazare, Lokpal and the trendy Indian youth

The world seems to be filled about posts on Anna Hazare and Lokpal; maybe the last thing that you need is to read one more armchair analysis. It’s a free world though; so I need a place to write and you might not need to read this. So stop here if you think you’ve heard enough! :)

First of all, I give it to Anna for clamouring this much support. It’s no mean feat to rally around so many people for a cause. Have to appreciate that. But is the cause good though? Giving it a naive glance it would seem so. But things are not so simple in the real world. The real world doesn’t comprise of writing blogs, tweeting tweets and liking posts. The real world is a lot different. The real world is a lot more complicated. And I don’t think Anna’s cause is going to have desired effects. Let me try to explain why.

Indians, you and I, have a culture of corruption inbuilt in our genes. It’s not just the politician who’s corrupt – that bracket includes the common average Indian. A simple example. You are caught at a traffic signal violating the red light. The policeman who catches you red handed gives you two options – pay Rs 100 to him and you walk free or he gives you a ticket that needs to paid in court. What would you choose? I bet 90% of you who are reading this would go for option 1. We are inherently corrupt and are willing to sacrifice our principles to cut some corners. That’s the only practical way we know of dealing with such a situation. I myself remember just 2 instances in my life where I have given a bribe. I did have plenty of oppurtunities where I could have bribed.. when I got my passport, when I got my DL, when I built my house – but I never paid a penny. I feel strongly about that; but then again I believe I was just lucky. I never was challenged enough in such situations. If I would have been; when I think about it; I might have paid. Even with so many ‘set’ principles in my head – I admit I’ll be corrupt if the situation demands it.

There is a general misunderstanding that only the person who accepts a bribe is corrupt. The person who gives the bribe is equally responsible. Corruption in India therefore needs to be solved from the bottom levels before we go into tackling it among the highest authorities. Frankly, I don’t see it making any difference at all. I read posts saying that the day Lokpal is passed; India’s going to be transformed overnight into Singapore. Bullshit. In fact, from the way I see it, it’s just going to be the opposite. An Indian does stuff only if he sees an incentive for himself in it. Very very few people are selfless or are keen to be professional in what they do. Applies to politicians, applies to government servants, applies to you, applies to me. Sadly, I think the whole motivation behind a lot of development activities in India is because the people responsible for it see an opportunity for grabbing something for themselves. If they think they’ll be caught; they’ll not take a bribe; they’ll just not do the project also. That’s where India is going to lose. There I said it! – India has actually benefited from high level political corruption. Sad, but true. Corruption is what drives development in India.

Ok, so that was my rant. What is my solution sitting in an armchair? Forget about the guys at the top level. Eliminate the root causes of corruption at the lower levels. Increase the salary of the policeman, the teacher, the clerk, the secretary and every single government servant. So that they don’t feel the need to be bribed to do their job. Atleast some of us would be converted – I’m sure. This may still be naive; but not as naive as telling me that having an additional bureaucratic engine would solve the problems of corruption in India. That would eventually just become another set of officials that need to be bribed. One more obstacle.

Corruption is not a problem that we can afford to solve at this moment in my humble opinion. We as a nation are not at that stage. There are a lot of other pressing problems like poverty, infrastructure and education to solve. Corruption is too big a challenge and too expensive to monitor and eliminate at this point. We’ll someday reach that stage. But we are nowhere near that now.

And like it or not; India is a democracy. Arm twisting the government isn’t the way to get things done in a democracy. Having no politicians is worse than having bad politicians. Think about it.

Let’s be civil. Let’s think of a practical solution to our problem and not indulge in foolishness.

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