Do we Indians really have corruption in our blood?

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From the day demonetisation struck, the most popular refrain one has heard on social media and television channels is that we Indians have corruption in our blood. We give and take bribes quite naturally. From the garbage collector, who has to be paid an amount in addition to what is collected as garbage cess, to the hospital admin expecting a vasool for simply handing over a certificate (no lies in it) sooner than later, we are used to it. We are like this only, is the chorus.

So, do not expect any big change with black money seized or black-marketeers in the net. There may be a lull at the most before business continues as usual. The wise smile smugly. Anyone who did not indulge in bribes, from either side, should be a convert by now after hearing all those analysis in media.

Is it the famous tolerance that is responsible?

Or is it as a foreigner said in a message that went viral that our culture makes us corrupt? Our religion that encourages a healthy mode of transaction between gods and lesser mortals, and seduces us into thinking that if god can be bribed, so can his creations.

The same author went on to cite Indian moral ambiguity in the context of history and kings who sold their friends and nation away for a few gold coins more! He then proceeded to ridiculously pick the caste system to show Indians do not believe all are equal and hence, a few loose threads in our moral fabric.

The above theory is indeed laughable. One has to look at world history to see that greed and avarice are a global human trait and not restricted to erstwhile Indian kings. Caste system does exist in pockets of backward India, but in no way can it be used to explain why Indians are so corrupt. The logic is too far-fetched.

Of course, people like vigilance commissioners and others have gone on record to state that a mere 20 percent of Indians are not corrupt and have a conscience. Studies have gone to show how during polls the electorate votes for criminals who assure them benefits! Look at it as growing materialism or constraints of poverty, the power of money has risen.

Materialism aside, I believe that it is a combination of tolerance and laziness that makes us so vulnerable to pick the back entrance. If there is a short-cut, we love it. At work or on the roads. Witness the way big vehicles navigate narrow lanes tortuously for a few metres advantage. In the process, we get hampered by other vehicles also seeking the short cut.

In everything we do, we love the short-cut. Be it studies, work or even recreation.

It is by no way due to paucity of time. We are in no hurry, except on the roads. Sheer laziness, as I said. Add to it a benevolence at large and you have the Indian who believes ‘live and let live’ means ‘bribe and let bribe’. We do not grudge our fellow men a few extra indigo notes. Compared to the American or European, we are after all an impoverished lot.

No wonder, to get our work done we are willing to pay out the extra thousands or hundreds.

But why then does our blood boil to watch all those babus and politicians with their humungous wealth stashed away under the cots and toilets? Could it be that we believe in equality more than the gentleman with his caste theory of inequality could believe? Give us our ‘rightful’ share.

Perhaps.

But the question that begs an answer is: can nothing be done to change the system?

If we believe the country lags because of this corruption, what prevents many of us from breaking free? We are on an average as good as our average global contemporaries. The popular chant is that one man or woman can’t do anything. Stated in other words, nobody wants to bell the cat, no one wants to start the uphill task.

We are a lazy lot. Hence, corrupt. Cross-examine, please.

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