Sunday, July 31, 2011

Yes I'm Corrupt...

Yes I’m corrupt – but less than what I was ten years ago. Yes I'm corrupt.

1990 – That was when I recall making my first STD call. I remember my dad taking me to a phone booth. The guy operating the booth could decide if he wanted to connect my call – I had to pay him extra else the line would be “busy”. I did.

1995 – I remember understanding the train ticket booking system. You went to an “agent”. You gave him 10% per ticket or Rs.250 whichever is higher. He went inside the booking chamber in the station and paid a percentage to the operator who then booked the ticket. It was long time later I realized that it was NOT how you booked tickets and that what we did actually constituted to paying a “bribe”.

2000 – I remember opening my own bank account. I thought I would be required to pay an “opening charge” to an introducer – to my surprise (a pleasant one) – bribe was no longer the norm. The bank account still exists.

2005 – I buy my first mobile phone and can make calls at any time of the day – including STD. I ‘message’ for free.

2010 – I pay my taxes online. There is no “tax for paying tax”.

And they say, corruption has increased over the past years. The scale of corruption might have increased. The 2G scam – well I will refrain from giving it a number – the amount is quoted to be far above my comprehension – seems to be the biggest scam ever in the Indian History. But is it more than the cumulative “charge” taken by that “STD operator” across India? And so on and so forth…

The point I'm trying to make is that while the scale of corruption might seem to have increased, it has become extremely concentrated. The system is more open and “reform” – the same reform that many “activists” claim is the root of evil in today’s society – has reduced corruption at the grass-root level. Why do I bother if A Raja garnered the money if I get a good mobile connection wherever I go? For one, I’m sure he couldn’t have kept that money for himself. There would be a Tata-Radia hiding somewhere in the closet. Secondly, the government might have lost out by selling the spectrum at giveaway prices – but isn’t it exactly what prompted the telecom price-wars that ultimately benefitted the “Aam Aadmi”. The combined NPV of public benefit would surely be more than the amount that Raja is being charged for.

Anna Hazare might go to jail for fighting against corruption – and many on FB might “like” it or “attend” the “Aug 15th event against corruption” – I will continue to live my usual life knowing I’m paying my taxes – and JUST THAT. Yes, my money might be going to a pocket of an “undeserving individual” whose only qualification is that he is an uneducated MLA/MP – but as I theorized long time back – any money making dupes someone else – so in essence – everyone is corrupt! Don’t go so hard on Raja because he made more money than you – that is not anti-corruption – that I call ‘envy’.

P.S: On second thought, oh yeah, prosecute him – get the black money back – that will mean people will have more money – but oops – the prices of common goods might have just gone up by the same amount by the time – and even if they don’t – who doesn’t ever want more money! :D

7 comments:

skhajone said...

I felt you were on a far end of spectrum, a little moderation as showed in your PS wont be that bad.

You should elaborate this idea a little bit and add to freakonomics :)

Sayan said...

Well written. The problem is that our reform process is only half complete. It is at a stage where crony capitalism rules supreme. What India needs to do is to take the liberalization process to its logical conclusion.

Either have socialism or a proper free market. Anything in the middle will result in more Kalmadis and Rajas.

Pooja Chandra said...

But consider also tht just like u did 10-15 yrs back, a lot of ppl today will also define corruption basis what they face.... yes stuff like taxes etc have changed.... but the war isnt won yet.... thr still many who face corruption in some other facets of life- personal or professional... hence the anna hazares of this country are able to garner so much support

PP said...

@Kaku: True, just was irritated over Anna trying to blackmail simply by saying "I'll go on hunger strike" for everything... Common ppl hv no idea wat including (or not) the PM wud mean... Most ppl who are agitating hv nt read the Jan-Lokpal bill...

@Sayan: The Doomsday sayers are preventing just that. We can't leave it midway.

@Pooja: Exactly wat I thot of - I took examples of exactly those things what a common man does everyday - of course if u are plannin to strt an industry, stand for election, u'll still deal with a lot of corruption - but how many ppl in this country are affected by that!

anurag said...

I guess Anna and everyone else with him are not just behind A Raja or any inidvidual for that matter but against total prevelent corruption in system. This is more to supress the openly prevelent corruption in all walks of life. This if successful would at least scare the ppl who are deeply involbved in corruption. If at this stage, this initiation/ movement fails , it might infact increase the level of corruption as they would be no more be scared of anyone. Think of a taxi-driver whose taxi gets stolen and he has to pay a bribe to get his FIR written ..or a retired clerk who has to pay bribe to get pension.. you should also mention such points before you say it has decreased ay grass root level. As for P.S. , i am pretty sure that once it comes back , it will not be "evenly distributed among all people of India" to get price rise but would be incresed towards development.

Puneet said...

@Anurag: I didn't say that the grassroot corruption has been eradicated/eliminated. I said, it has reduced - all because of reforms. Are you saying the grassroot corruption that you talked of didn't exist earlier? But there were multiple other kinds of corruption too - that no more exist. And regarding PS, well do you know that India can actually print the same amount of 'black money' anyways...!! So can we say, well jo gaya so gaya, utna hi hum yaha print kar dete hain... will that we used for development?

anurag said...

It is dificult to measure how much it has differed from then to now, so it would be inappropriate to say is has decreased on grassroot level. Also i disagree with the expales you have given, these may not represent what was/is faced by middle-middle class or lower middle class or poor class of India who form a large chunk of Indian popluation. Most examples about lessening of corruptiona are about using of internet. how many of us (can) use internet for routine work , very very small fraction.Even if a coomon wants to do these works online, he will again have to pay a "fee" in some form.

I also find the point you made about price getting less for aam-aadmi (due to 2g ) a bit disappointing. Please crct me if I am wrong, you dislike Anna movement in its means but not ends, because it *undemocratically* questions and protests against a democratically chosen govt but here you are justifying a wrong doing because it has wrong means but right results. I beg your pardon if that part was supposed to be humor :)