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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Solving Corruption

My people, including myself, lack dignity & discipline. Not surprising, considering that we had a little too much of it growing up in India. And typical with age or even human frailty, one wishes for his childhood with the passage of time. I too, long for the simplicity and authority of an earlier time when the folk seemed more genteel and courteous but then realise that I rebelled against those very ideas when I faced them. 

Our generations have undergone drastic and sudden change without the advantages of graduated absorption and accordingly, social interactions or transactions have acquired a different hue & colour in their applications or perspectives. This is not wrong in itself, but the world is surprisingly over-populated and the human race seems to have become a sprint rather than a marathon.

The New York Times claims that the average American sees 5000 advertisements a day from a variety of sources and acts accordingly. The average Indian sees at least 500 instances of corruption, rule violations, minor misdemeanours and social nuisances and also acts accordingly.

Corruption is endemic states our media most emphatically while breaking the same rules and regulations while in pursuit of such rule-breakers. Irony is definitely not a term to be found in their dictionaries and nor is hypocrisy. The virtues we espouse publicly are western in genesis and hence, privately we choose to ignore them whenever we think we’re not being observed. Such is our plight, the modern Indian.

The uncle who condemns the deplorable law & order situation is un-surprisingly the first to break lanes in traffic to get ahead. The cousins who spew fundamentalist and alarmingly socialist views in our drawing rooms are quite secular and capitalistically compromising in handling their due payments & not above paying off the “fragrant grease” (as the Chinese term it) for expediting their matters. 

That I have not followed that principle is why I am being published in an online journal, perhaps but then, this is not a rant, merely an observation.

A favourite mentor once explained that in India, problems are never solved – they are resolved, absolved or best, DISSOLVED - preferably with scotch & soda. People do not wish for end-game solutions, lest they and their comfort-zones are antagonized or changed.

We Indians might make a hullabaloo about corruption and love to talk, rant or hear about it on mass & local media but we do not truly wish it gone. We fear that if we were to live in a truly corruption-free society, we would not be able to do what we have always done. Simple facts of life, pleasures even such as littering, over-speeding, drunk-driving, traffic abuse and all those simple truths of everyday existence for an Indian might disappear. Or worse, cost more than they do now – And we hate inflation, us Indians!

Charity begins at home, mercy is a taught quality – most of our “moral science” virtues are afforded by civilizations which do not have worry about empty bellies and desperate dreams, such as those owned by 1.3 billion Indians. Which is why, we see a negative connotation of Moses Abrahamovitz’s famous theory of convergence. We learnt how to leap-frog into western technology and while doing so, inadvertently picked up their social mores without the appending years of individualism, personal limitations and social tolerance. 

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing indeed.

Corruption essentially is an issue of self-pride or nation pride and even ego, if one takes it that way. It is a state of disconnected-ness which leads to insecurity or fear and thus fostering aspirations or even creation of desire or fear of normal fulfillment and hence adoption of other modes of acquiring one’s desires. In a way, it could be called a state of mind or being, subjected to an individual or a nation, in the throes of deprivation or desperation – in short, corruption is the reflection of a society or a people who are afraid of their future and wish to secure it at any cost. 

Socialist India was far more structured and the division between the haves & have-not’s were not nearly as discriminatory or visible as they are today. Corruption like inflation was similarly controlled till the late 70’s, not that it was non-existent. The authority paradigm was stronger with social value systems in place to curb against extremism or blatant antagonism.  Since 1992, rapid liberalization & globalization have caused a massive imbalance (of sorts) in the parent-child, teacher-student or the authority paradigm resulting in several generations who are disconnected, lacking identity or self-worth, seeking the price of everything without ascribing value to anything, they are truly Wilde(s) children. 

Solving corruption therefore necessitates we recover the coming generations if we wish to hope for a society without corruption or one with structure & values which are not over-ridden by a mob-mentality. Demanding today’s generations to change and follow the westernized model of society as being self-realized and structured is like expecting a fish to become amphibious over-night, not to mention a land-dweller by the next day. 

Education is obviously the key, but exactly what sort of education? 

We need values and dignity – discipline essentially in almost all endeavours.

We need vigorous penalties and a systemic approach towards mal-functions or break-downs.

We need specific branding and visibility upon which to base our value systems.

India Shining is not a brand that benefits the society holistically. The numbers of visa applications to the west prove that we’re not happy with our own image or of our country. It doesn’t satisfy us to be Indians and till we resolve this crucial issue – from children’s bedrooms to schoolrooms, we will not escape the issues of corruption.

Blindly copying and emulating the west is not enough for the rest.  We need self-realization and perhaps a dictator while we are at it. Not that I would know much about power paradigm shifts anyhow, but we Indians are still too naive and need guidance with firm control. Anything less is proving calamitous in every predictable future for our nation. 

Incidents like the one in GS Road, at Guwahati happened and were dealt with monetarily and therefore significantly forgotten within the period of a few weeks. We would be incited and provoked into a social media circus in the belief of a rural octogenarian who has 17th century solutions for 21st century problems and less than a year later, it’s in the past and the new fight is about invasion of the lungi-clad religious fundamentalists led by a perfume merchant who preaches. 

By the way, did you know what was the title/surname of the perfume merchants of Gujrat?


Someone return our dignity & discipline – we are lost.