Don’t miss the corruption in our everyday life
Source: DNA INDIA
Corruption is not only the 2G scam that percolates into everyday Indian life.
Cricket is an area where rottenness has set in. Eleven spoilt brats hog the limelight… and lose three out of five times.
The recent IPL auction was a shameful affair televised nationally: players being sold off as if they were pieces of meat - and most not finding buyers, while a few were bought for absurd prices.
Cricket is also the destroyer of other sports: It monopolises the media and advertisement attention and, as result, India, an upcoming superpower, is ranked 145th in football, 232nd in basketball and is nowhere in the world. Compare this to China which, in less than 30 years, has come to dominate world sports.
Take ads. In the West, sportspersons usually advertise for sports goods. Here, Dhoni, a hero to millions of youths, will not only endorse Coca-Cola, which is harmful to health, but even whisky (under the guise of soda). Is that not a form of corruption?
Speaking of Bollywood, its reputation is grossly overrated: many films are copied frame by frame, from western movies, there is hardly any message, and actors in India do not come from acting schools but are often the children of famous people.
Is industry any better? A Hero Honda still peddles as ‘latest technology’, motorcycles that were in used in the West in the ‘80s. If you look at the motorcycles’ ads, notice that the emphasis is never on the technological features, but on some highly paid actor performing (fake) stunts, amidst dazzling girls in non-Indian landscapes. Indians want to get fairer. Unscrupulous companies, such as Hindustan Lever, thus peddle creams which claim that in a few days you can become whiter. Is this not also a form of corruption?
Take airlines. Jet Airways claims to be the largest airline in India. Yet it offers its passengers aging narrow bodied aircrafts, while its chairman, Naresh Goyal lives in a palatial London house with five Rolls Royce (whatever you may say about Vijay Mallya, his fleet is made of brand new wide-bodied jets, he lives here, and his Force India has put India on the map of F1).
There are even more subtle forms of corruption: look at how the ordinary man is always ready to jump a queue or cheat the taxman or the banks, making life miserable for the lawful customers as the first assumption of banks in India is that you want to cheat them.
Yet we have to excuse Indians. For the last 20 centuries, terror has been bred in the Indian psyche from the Hindu Kush, where, says the Encyclopaedia Britannica, hundreds of thousands of Indians were massacred, to 26/11.
It is not only Hindus who suffered: the forefathers of 95% of today’s Indian Muslims were brutally converted. Buddhism was wiped off from the face of India by the ruthless onslaught of Arab armies. Even the Syrian Christians, who had integrated themselves into the Indian mainstream, were shattered by the arrival of the Portuguese, who imposed a fundamentalist Christianity and split them into two.
Thus, terror breaks the social fabric, breeds corruption, forces the terrorised citizens to cheat to survive - and the habit stays, even when freedom has come. What to do then? Pay better. A cop who has five children to feed, will be less prone to corruption if he has a good salary. Punish harshly. You don’t have to go to the extent of the Chinese government, which shoots politicians guilty of corruption, but if Raja, who swindled India of billions of dollars, would go to jail for 10 years, it would act as a deterrent and put faith in the common man that he too should become honest.
Good governance is a must. Whatever you can say about Narendra Modi, when you go to Gujarat, roads are paved, no bribes are sought, industries flourish, and ministers work 7 days a week. If India could have five states functioning thus, it could prove a watershed.
For the truth is that Indians are a great people. Corruption was inflicted upon them by terror, but it is a disease that they can get rid of provided they elect the right people.
The author is the editor in chief of the Paris-based La Revue de l’Inde and the author of The Guru of Joy