“Independent” India. 62 years young. Largest Democracy in the world. Secular, sovereign, socialist blah blah. Birthplace of Chess and Mathematics. Ironically, is that why, India is inadvertently competing with the top corrupt countries in the world to outdo them. India is at the 88th position out of the 160 odd countries, with the least corrupt being Finland; and the most being Haiti. Japan, on the other hand, after being razed to the ground in the second world war, is at the 21st position. There are demographical reasons that aid Japan over India, but still 62 years is a huge timeframe for progress in different fields. Corruption is so deep rooted in our blood corpuscles and neurons that life without corruption is next to impossible. Every one of us would’ve faced some situation at some point in life which forces us to give in to corruption. I shall quote an incident in my experience to prove this.
Problem statement : Water Leak from the inlet water pipe [to my house] from the corporation mains line.
Ideal solution : Lodge a complaint with the water supply board regarding the problem so that they can fix it.
Modus Operandi : Go to the Water supply Board, meet the official in charge of my ward, lodge a complaint giving the location of the problem.
It looked as simple as that. But I wasn’t too sure about it being this simple. And it didn’t turn out to be so simple after all. Any problem which involves the Government, leads to a problem greater than the problem itself! [Mr.Murphy, please take this statement as my corollary to one of your laws]. I approached the official in charge at the water board to lodge a complaint regarding the leak. To my utter shock and surprise, he told me that this leak had to be repaired by us, the owners of the house; and that the water board will not do anything about it. On blatantly questioning him if it wasn’t the responsibility of the water board to cater to such problems, he responded saying that they would cut off the supply to our road if they get complaints of a major leak or pipe rupture. He also said that he will send some of his workers if I need them, but I’ll have to make a ‘small’ payment. On asking him if I could proceed and ask my plumber to take care of the problem, he said that he’ll be permitting me to do it only if I produce a ‘road cutting permission’ from the corporation. Next stop, Corporation office.
I walked into the unusually calm corporation office [courtesy : tomorrow’s Gowri & Ganesha festival] and told them about my problem. The Junior Engineer [JE] who is in charge of my ward was supposedly out, attending a meeting. There was no other person to authorize this job to proceed. Getting the ‘road cutting permission’ [RCP] isn’t a simple task either. I have to first approach the JE, asking for RCP, pay the said amount to the corporation to cut open the road. This is like a penalty to be paid for damaging the already potholed road [as if it is in a pristine condition..!]. On producing the challan and a ‘small amount’, the JE will give a notice which serves as RCP. This RCP must be taken to the water board. The official there will then give a permission notice to repair the pipe, obviously after taking some tips. This is the procedure to be followed if any of your water pipes on the road break, for no fault of yours. This is what I was told. Please enlighten me if I am wrong.
Ideal solution [modified] : Do not approach the water board. Do not approach the City Corporation. Get your plumber and a mason. Dig the road open at the required places. Replace / repair the pipe. Re-dress the road as if nothing had happened.
Time for some troubleshooting. Who is at fault?
Is it the corporation which laid low quality roads?
Is it the water board which shunned its responsibility?
Even if it is not the board’s duty to repair the pipes, is the system right in letting it be?
Even if I am a law abiding citizen who wants to set things right in the way they are meant to be, the system doesn’t allow me to do so. Why should people pay property tax / consumer tax / income tax, if the very government which collects them refuses to help its citizens? Every year there is a budget which quotes the money allotted to every sphere of administration. But there is no record which informs the general public about the expenditures incurred in that year. There has to be a system which accounts to the public in black and white. The money inflow and outflow, with deficit or excess has to be shown. With this done, there is transparency and belief in the system. That may act as a saving grace for people like me who are losing faith in the system.There is no greater a tragedy than fighting the system itself, rather than fighting with the system.
Disclaimer : The above text is based on real life experiences. Any reference to people, living or dead is purely intentional and not coincidental.