Monday, 18 April 2011

Petty corruption? Or Big corruption - which is the real problem?

Today’s Hindustan Times in its Intersections column titled “Want to end petty corruption? Free the bribe giver” has proposed that to end corruption the bribe giver has to be freed. While I am all for taking stern measures to end this menace of corruption, the writer has assumed that bribes are given to get that work done that should legitimately be done. This is a very naive view, and represents only the small bribes, which though extremely annoying and frustrating, are not what most of us feel are the bane of this country. And it is this class of bribe givers who would have responded to sites such as This represents a one sided picture only – and even here those who have, say, jumped a red-light and preferred paying off the constable rather than accept the challan would not have volunteered information at such sites and hence would not be covered in the statistics on petty bribes discussed in the colomn.

Most of us deliberately pay bribes because we find it more convenient - why not pay some money to the TT and get a berth at the last minute in the train? Or why not tip the colony maali to drop of some manure at our door step? Or pay extra to jump the others ahead of us in the queue? Convenience money is the true term for "petty bribes" and it is a holier than thou attitude which attempts to justify the bribe giver.

The larger and more significant bribes are given to allow a wrong act, which is extremely beneficial to the bribe giver who ensures that the quantum of bribe given, which might not even have been asked, is adequate temptation, if not almost impossible to resist.  

Of my own experience while working, I can vouch for the fact that bribe givers very very frequently attempt to tempt the officials sometimes with that which they know will be difficult to resist. I remember on first reporting at an assignment, a customer called on me with a huge (over one ft cube) box of chocolates. Having already built up a reputation, obviously considered a negative reputaion by those on the other side of the table (since I used to flatly refuse in the past), I was cautious. I explained very politely (and I thought, very tactfully) that I was living alone and there was no need for this, to assuage his feelings of possible rejection, I thanked him politely, served him tea etc. and took a single bar of chocolate. Well done I thought. Only to have him declaim to one and all that I was too proud!

Occasions of Diwali are impossible – all and sundry land up carrying parcels as token of their gifts – leaving me to explain to my children why on Diwali so many people turned up and why I sent them back with their gifts – after spending, what for us was a near fortune on extending them hospitality since they had come home on Diwali. Year after year it persisted till we were left with no option but to lock up the house and ensure that we did not spend the days preceding Diwali at home. Awkward situations and persistent pressures were similarly faced by many of my colleagues. Relax your vigil even momentarily, and you are doomed for all times, since the bribe givers pressure tactics only get strengthened.

If bribes are really to be tackled, it must be accepted that the gain to the giver is more than his loss – which is why he has paid his supposedly hard-earned money.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

The silent National Anthem

We had gone to see a movie yesterday at Big Cinemas, Noida. As was expected, they asked the audience to stand up for the National Anthem which of course we all did. What followed cannot be described in words, and has to be experienced.
It was a silent rendering of the National Anthem by young children who are hearing handicapped. Their emotions, their expressions, their exuberance and joy – I run short of adjectives, have to be seen. On coming back, I got onto the computer and was able to trace the same, the link to view this is
Also do see the comments – one of which is - It's utterly totally completely brilliant
But briefly, it is the National Anthem, shot entirely in Sign language and children with hearing and speech disabilities have acted in it 

Monday, 4 April 2011

The Fair, by Kyra

A drawing done by Kyra, a nearly 7 year old girl, who is very very fond of drawing and painting. Such attention has been paid to details, don't miss the merry-go-round, or the various stalls. i loved the fact that some things are being given free, and that the kids say 'please' at the stall when they ask for what they want. i'm sure that she will become a great artist when she grows up.

Good work Kyra.

World Cup

this has been a truly wonderful world cup. and i think that we had the toughest games, with most strong teams. it's not that we did well throughout, we played badly in a couple of games, lost one, tied one, [that one was as good as losing it, because it was a tie because of the english team's lack of courage in going all out for an outright win]. but all our games were nail biting, didnt know till the last what the end would be. but the fact is that we learnt from our mistakes, and tried to improve. one fact stands out in the final match. all odds were against us. we lost the toss, our bowlers gave away a lot of runs, and we had a very big total to beat. then when we came in to bat, we lost both sehwag and sachin for a mere 30 odd runs. BUT there was no panic shown. every player who came in played a very solid game. no tension, no rash shots, no defensive attitude, just tried to keep the score board moving. ones and twos, we wld get the boundaries later, they wld come. gambhir started this way and others followed. he reminded me of rahul dravid, mr dependable. only he was better, as he didnt get bogged down. it was a pleasure to watch. and also a real thrill. win or lose is another matter, but it was the team's attitude that really impressed me. if they go on like this, mentally cool and calm, they will beat australia's record of winning the world cup any number of times. truly at this time we are the no: 1 team in cricket. and it was the youngsters who did it. so a very bright future ahead for india in the world of cricket.

well done india.