Have you ever tried to find an answer to this question? How come that we are forced to pay bribes or approach a middle-man to get our basic government documents like a driving license or passport made? How come in Canada or US one does not have to pay a bribe for such documentation? How come these basic documents are provided to you with one visit to the office concerned in Canada or US? Why is that despite having all the necessary documents and qualifications, you still have to make many a rounds to the offices to get the job done?
Our political/ social/ religious leaders always blame it on the enormity of Indian population. Anyone with knowledge of automated computerised systems knows that if one person’s documents can be done, then a million of such documents can also be done. It appears that no one wants to correct the system. The politician fears the loss of his vote bank and all other leaders fear the loss of money the corrupt system brings.
What makes the officials corrupt? The salary the government officials receive anywhere in the world is pretty high compared to the common-man’s standard of living in that country. Salaries (and pension) paid are adequate enough to maintain a decent standard of living for a family and does cater for all the basic essentials of food, housing, education etc. Then why is the greed or need for the extra money?
Let us examine a person’s life in both India and North America and analyse as to what are the causes for less corruption in North America.
A child goes to the school and that’s where they are trained to be valuable citizens of their country. Most important role in this training is played by the teachers in developing the mind-set of these children and they imbibe good values from them. The teachers’ selection and appointment in North America has its own high standards where as in India we are all well aware of the hefty bribes paid to get the post. In most of the private schools, mostly run by the religious institutions, they sign for a monthly salary of few thousands and take home actually a fourth of it. Here merit and teaching ability are of least concern and only their paying capacity is considered. How can you ever expect such teachers to develop a good value system in their students?
In the North American society, the children after their high-school education tend to look after themselves and graduate by taking loans and/or doing part-time jobs. In India, the parents cater for all these needs and it continues even after their children have got married. The donation/ capitation fees/ normal fees for medical and engineering graduation are pretty high in India and everyone wants their children to be either an engineer or a doctor. When I retired after 25 years of service in 2004, my total pension emoluments was about Rs 30 Lakh (3 Million) and that was the amount needed in case our daughter was to take up medical education in a private medical college at that time anywhere in India. This clearly shows that most of the parents of such students have resorted to some illegal method of getting extra money, either by corrupt practices while serving or have evaded taxes and duties while selling their properties by under-valuation etc. Everyone connected with these professional education institutions – the political leadership, the administration, the courts etc are all well aware of this reality. The real irony is that most of these institutions are run by various religious denominations and they encourage this corruption in the name of their Gods.
Why can’t it be made mandatory for all those parents seeking admissions for their children in these medical and engineering colleges to prove their sources of income? It will never come through as most of these institutions are owned by either the political leaders or by religious groups. Neither the politician nor the God can be made uncomfortable by passing such laws. The politicians do not want to mess up with their vote banks and never antagonise the Gods.
After graduation, everyone looks to get a government job and there too a lot of money changes hand in many places. In some cases it is either recommendation or the money and in many cases it’s the merit. Where is this money coming from and where is it being used? Could be to pay for someone’s medical or engineering admission and the cycle continues. The only way out is to make the selection and appointment of all government post as transparent as possible. Only problem is that the looser is still either the politician or the God. So that can never be expected.
Now comes the costliest of all events – the marriage. In North America, the bride and the groom have to arrange for the marriage expenses and sometimes the parents do chip in. The amount of money the bride’s parents in India spend is well known, may be to make up for the money spend on the groom’s education, may be to finance the groom’s higher education, may be to finance the education of the groom’s siblings – the possibilities are endless. Still the money gets back into the same system and the cycle continues. Legislation and enforcement can control this menace to a limited scale only. Despite enactment of the Anti-Dowry laws, ill gotten money still changes hands and the Gods also seem to be enjoying it.
Next comes housing – everyone seem to be building houses bigger than their neighbour’s. It is never based on family needs, but in many cases only as a status symbol to show-off one’s mostly ill-gotten wealth. In North America, the old parents down-size and move to smaller homes, or to a gated community, or to an old age home once their children move out for education or jobs. In India it is always up-sizing, even when one is on his death bed. Only social awareness can eliminate this problem.
Now comes the ultimate – to get even with the Gods who has to forgive and remit all sins in getting this wealth. Huge offerings are made in the God’s houses to please Him. Most of the offerings are of no use to humanity like golden crowns, golden crosses studded with diamonds and chariots, elephants and even one’s hair. It is not understood as to which God is going to be pleased with these offerings. In North America, most old people donate all their wealth or part of it to the charities, which could help the humanity and may be the Gods will always be better pleased with them.