First we had the NDA government, then we had the UPA government, independence day speeches, republic day speeches, visions like 2020 from Kalam. But corruption continues to be a integral part of Indian life, now in its 60th year of independence. There are two types of corruption in India, where officials who control essential services have to be bribed and the other non-essential. Before I go further, let me also state that there are many officials who are extremely upright and will dispense their duties with the highest ethical standards. What has surprised me most has been the degree of corruption in private enterprise, from IT companies in Bangalore, whose CEOs issue sermons about the future of India to companies across other verticals. Now let me ask you a question we have leaders like Manmohan Singh who have this clean image because he is PH.D in Economics. What has he done in the last two years to really address this issue. Let me give you some examples. The purchase managers in most companies are corrupt without exception. There was a story of a U.S. returned caterer who was trying to establish himself in the Bangalore industrial catering market. Returning with a standard of ethics he knocked on many doors promising quality, service and consistency to many. He made little progress and received advice that he should bribe the purchase managers or admins who run the canteen committees. Faced with mounting losses and against time, he made a couple of entries into established companies. What was very interesting that he started receiving calls from many admins in other companies. So the corrupt admins had their own way of screening out the honest vendors. If you get the business and do not pay up then the most minute foreign particles are detected and payments held up. In the Pune area there are umpteen stories of very mediocre characters who get jobs as purchase managers with lifestyles disproportionate to their income.
If you run a manufacturing unit, there are at least 18 inspector who visit the plant and their sole purpose is not to ensure that the company is conforming to rules but find areas of non-conformance and provide 2 options, very high penalty or decent penalty with a bribe to the inspector. Many honest manufacturers also opt for the second option because of the slow legal system which will harm the overall productivity of the company. Can the finance minister and the industries ministers advise us how to address this.
The next few examples will horrify you. One of my friends his brother died in a road accident in Mumbai. The body was taken to the government morgue. My friend then working out of the country rushed back and went straight to the morgue. The officer there asked him to step out and asked only his friend to come in, he openly quoted the price for releasing the body, he chose not want to talk to my friend for he was in a devastated state. There have been also instances of patients admitted to hospitals in a serious condition and doctors have asked for bribes to start the treatment.
The rich have the means to pay this bribe, what about the poor. Lets assume your maid servant’s husband dies in a road accident and goes to release the body, she will probably have to take a loan to get the body to finish the final rites.
It’s a misnomer to believe that corruption is only where the govt is concerned. It is worse in private enterprise where highly paid individuals go the extra mile to extract more for personal gain.
If you have any stories of corruption please send it to me. What I have tried to highlight are not the petty instances but where even the life of an individual is not respected, even the well compensated will go the extra mile to harass the honest.