Friday, January 3, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



The octopus of corruption: missing links of transparency & accountability

The "octopus of corruption" is not an accidental phenomenon, it has been nurtured long and carefully planned for centuries now (Hari Jaisingh, Dec 27). Muslims invaded India for "the amount of gold, coined and cuncoined", as Babur put it, and they started the practice of granting favours in lieu of gold. They forced their subordinate rulers in the land to pay tributes as wages for peace and the thrones the latter wanted to cling to. The rulers, in turn, fleeced their subjects to collect the vast amounts of gold, coined and uncoined, that they had to make a present of. No doubt, they retained a part of it for their own luxuries. The state's functionaries, who were designated to collect the amounts at the village level, made their own fortunes. The English, so very hard working and upright in their own land, came to expect and accept costly presents and services from the people they favoured. This is the role-model of the rulers and their agents we inherited in 1947, and it is sad but true that our MPs and MLAs did not think twice before adopting it. They have been behaving much like the rulers, not like the elected representatives that they are. Bureaucrats and other officials took on the role of the functionaries of the durbar.

And we the people of India have continued with the practice of purchasing favours from our elected representatives just as we had been doing when we were slaves. We find nothing wrong with the practice of purchasing jobs (PPSC scam) or transfers because we and our ancestors have been doing it for the last ten centuries now. The author refers to the "purchase of goods for personal use at the employer's expense" as yet another form of corruption, which it undoubtedly is. But what to do if the employer himself offers this mode of corruption. Supplying laptops to MPs and MLAs (and they will not deposit these with the government on the expiry of their terms) is an example, as is the free electricity and water and bungalows and pensions for life!


The truth is that we want favours. A millennium of slavery has shaken our faith in ourselves and we feel we do not deserve a thing on merit. We do not demand water and electricity connections as our rights, bue beg for these from the employees concerned as favours and express our gratitude by paying bribes. We feel obliged when a Tehsildar provides us with a “tatima” of our own land and feel grateful when an SDM certifies the skill of driving that we possess. We want favours from our panchayats, from our councillors, from our MLAs, from our ministers and indeed from God Himself. "I would not have protested if a strong fight a strong, but here a lion is killing cows; Lord, thou hast something more to do here." So said Guru Nanak. Why should Lord help those who take on themselves the role of cows and present their necks to the lion's jaws? That the jaws are Indian, not foreign, should be no consolation as Nehru thought it was.

L.R. Sharma, Jalandhar

Corruption among doctors: The facts and figures given by Hari Jaisingh are not simply awe-inspiring but make one gasp for a breath. We are living in a country where Rs 26,728 crore is given as bribes, 30 per cent of national funds are given as secret commissions and kickbacks and more than Rs 50,000 crore of black money is deposited in foreign banks by people in power. From this data one can say that a parallel economy is working in our country which is more powerful than the genuine one.

Myself and my wife both are doctors. It is disgrace to read that the country's health network (doctors for all practical purposes) is the most corrupt and is responsible for Rs 7,578 crore of bribes every year. When the conditions are so bad, remedial measures are warranted at the earliest. The cadre of doctors is above 2,00,000 in the country and if you work out per capita corruption associated with doctors then it comes to be Rs 3-4 lakh per year. If we see in terms of population, as every 10th person is affected, this means 10 crore people are affected. This should make the doctors sit up and think why their noble profession is getting disgraced day by

Dr Tirath Garg, Ferozepur

Rotten system: It has been almost two decades now since the issue of corruption became open and since then, endless and intense discussions have continued but without any results. Today our system stands rotten to such an extent that honesty has become a sort of luxury that only a few can afford. Just the way people read a news item “50 die in Chennai” and switch over to the next, forgetting the last in a split second, an article like “The Octopus of Corruption” too exhorts their inner selves for some time and then they are the same old ones. The day the process of reforms for a clean system begins occupying our minds, overcoming our never-ending 'bhookh' and insecurity, the death-knell of corruption would be sounded.

Jagvir Goyal, Chandigarh

Corruption: from top to bottom: The prevailing system does not encourage upright and honest persons. Earlier, corruption was at the lower level, but now it has become like an “aabshaar" (waterfall), which flows from the top to the bottom. The need of the hour is that those at the top must become upright, honest and totally free from corruption. If they become so, then the persons down the line will not dare to indulge in corrupt practices.

Gurdershan Singh, Chandigarh

Stringent punishment: The reason for lesser corruption during British rule was that the corrupt officials were awarded a stringent punishment. There were no political safeguards to cover up the shady deals of officials. Due to the fear of stern punishment, nobody dared to indulge in corrupt practices.

Iqbal Singh, Bijhari (Hamirpur)

Scandals galore: During the past 30 years, corruption has been growing at a supersonic speed despite many crusades against it. Corruption is now synonymous with words like scams, scandals, rackets, hawala, school/college admissions, transfer of government servants, bogus donations, plot/house allotments, recruitment, allotment of petrol pumps/gas agencies, seeking medical services etc. The list is endless.

O.P. Sharma, Faridabad

Selective action: Unfortunately the small fish has been caught in the web of the Vigilance net, the big are still enjoying the fruit of political favouritism. The Punjab Chief Minister has failed to contain corruption among his own MLAs and Ministers. If today elections are held in Punjab, I am sure, the Congress would be rejected by the people. The Tribune should also highlight this side of the Chief Minister.

Multan Singh Parihar, Jalari (Hamirpur)


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