Friday, November 19, 2010

What does corruption in India mean?

Three big corruption scandals have hit India over the past two months. The Commonwealth games is being investigated with skeletons coming out of the closet. The 2g scam involving spectrum Raja has been given the tag of being India’s biggest corruption scandal post independence. The amount runs into 1.76 lakh crores of loss to the state exchequer, unimaginable in a country like India. Even the Kargil martyrs haven’t been spared. The politician-army nexus has snatched flats meant for those who sacrificed their lives for the nation. The Adarsh housing scam has brought down a chief minister. The Congress led UPA (United Progressive Front) is being cornered by the opposition which itself is not any better when it comes to corruption. Two cases involve the BJP in a 500 crore land scam in Karnataka and the CPM in the Lavlin case in Kerala.

As the media have a field day with various scams the citizens of India have to understand the concept of corruption in India. India is ranked 87 in the corruption index. Why do people take money below the table? Existence, survival, security and the like may be the initial reasons of doing this. Once we enter this world, one cannot realistically come out of it. Life in India is undervalued. It is therefore not acceptable to take money over the table but everything is possible in the dark and undisclosed India. The same mentality makes us do anything and everything as soon as we feel that no one is noticing. This is the after 6 way of life.

The church is also at fault for encouraging and not fighting corruption itself. Despite countless sermons on the topic of God and mammon, Christians simply do not stop paying and accepting bribes. The act of not paying the salaries that the priests deserve and instead wishing to pay for ‘services rendered’ brings about a culture of dependence which is similar to bribing. Any discussion to introduce proper salaries for priests will bring about an explanation that priesthood is social work and therefore does not deserve a salary. This light of the day denial is accepted as the need of the hour in the dark of night. What this does is to bring in various categories of priests. There are the ones who will struggle for their day to day living expenses, the ones who will look for weddings and programmes to attend to make that little extra money, the ones who will sell insurance policies and do real estate and the ones who will try to go for a stint abroad or even better settle somewhere outside India.

The M.P.’s in parliament crossed party lines and came together to increase their own salaries by an unprecedented amount. But the list of scams is not showing any sign of decreasing. Power is seen as the single most effective way of getting what one wants. This power is attainable through money, both black and white. Money is used to get white, red and black robes and money is used to further violence from the confines and the safety of these robes. A poor Jesus is only for sermons which happen to be inside richly decorated and huge churches. Jesus is even twisted to include the God of prosperity who gives us whatever we ask. Black or white! It does not matter.

Corruption in India will not end any time soon. This is because it happens because of us the people and our dual natures at dawn and dusk. Even though the space to come together and prevent corruption exists we will never do so because we will never stand together on such issues. The only thing we are going to do is to watch TV, whine about the sorry state of affairs in India and then go to sleep. Jesus on the cross has a definite meaning for our lives. But are we willing to speak up for what he died for? Or are we just going to have Jesus stay on the cross, as a decoration for our churches and homes?


Anonymous said...

Jerry Achen,
We all remember the Khalistan issue in Punjab, every day there was a problem in the Punjab public life was a nightmare in those days. Many political parties use it for fishing in the dirty waters. Finally, public opinion and the people in Punjab turned against the activates of the Khalistan group and stopped the support for them gradually the problem stopped by itself. Similarly corruption in the society can eliminate by the support of the public. Bribe and giving money to get things done are encouraged by our people only for example to get a electric connection , approval of house plan, or to get a birth certificate our people are willing to pay and reduce the waiting time. We have rules to prevent corruption, but it is applicable to the lowest level no one is taking action to the high level corruption. The opponents of the “Emergency rule” also agree that those days government machinery was functioning efficiently, and public was able to receive the service of the public servants without paying any bribe. Do we want to wait for a similar rule?

Fr Jerry said...

Thanks Cecil. Khalistan like issues crop up due to the dis-satisfaction of a section of people in a particular place. When the government does nothing, insurgency can happen. India is also learning this through Kashmir the hard way.
Corruption obviously cannot be the work of the corrupted only. We by paying bribes are as corrupted as those taking it. But the poor are forced to give, even though they do not want to and do not have the money to! This calls for a systemic change as well. The citizens who can afford to raise their voice can definitely do so. By afford I mean, those who won't be hunted down by government servants.
Another issue is the salary of people. The government and institutions like the church encourage corruption by having lesser salaries for the people. When they are not able to live, they try other means. Everyone should be paid according to their work.
Corruption therefore can be brought down by a concerted effort from all. The church could take the lead in this matter.
Whether an emergency like situation would work in a country like India remains to be seen. Alternative power centres may work for a limited period. But they will also become corrupted over a period of time. In a country like India we cannot think of such a situation because it will take away the right to voice our opinion. Thanks again for your insights.

Parimal Tripathi said...

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Fr Jerry said...

Parimal, thanks for dropping by. The concept "Jaago re" is very noble indeed and makes sense in a country like India. I am sure that much would come about from this enterprise. But why the association with Tata Tea and the Tata group? Are they above the issue of corruption affecting Indian society? Or are they supporting the cause fully accepting that they are also part of the problem? One would want answers to these questions. Thanks.