My grandma once told my cousins & me as children, that charity begins at home. She had told us, kindness has to be learned & practiced with family primarily, secondly with friends, followed by the rest of the world.
The virtues she bestowed upon me, remain etched in my mind. I can hear her voice speak to me, the moment I close my eyes, although twenty-seven years have passed since I first heard it.
After she had laid down the foundation of my values, I remember how I kept drifting away from my virtues.
It began with a touch of sweetness, & I was tempted to grab, what I had mistaken to be as kindness. It seemed exciting to me, every time I lied to my Aunt, & told her, that her husband was busy gardening & not polluting the air with the cigarette smoke, in return for a bribe smeared with chocolate I received from my uncle. I loved collecting fifty paise from mom, each time I fetched milk from the milk booth for the family after refusing to go & buy it initially. I felt like a queen when dad promised to buy an expensive toy for me if I did well in my exams.
I enjoyed this part of my childhood, until the day my virtue pushed itself up from beneath the debris of the myth I believed was charity or kindness. It shook me up, & I realized, that everything I did until then, was not what my grandma had taught me.
I was twelve when for the first time I realized, we pay the price for a thing because we value it, & the excess of a price we pay to acquire the same thing reveals the worth of the person we rely upon to obtain it & the worthiness of the one who pays for it.
My parents had felt blessed to have a Real Estate attorney as a part of our family, who had exploited my parents for the excess money they had paid to him, to obtain a plan sanction for our dream home’s construction. The Attorney’s worth as an exploiter was at the stake of the people like my parents, who were worthy of their desperateness, & haste to acquire an asset.
I realize today, the ease to exploit and to get exploited stems from the childhood days gone past, without learning to differentiate between reasonable & unreasonable demands. I thought to myself when I saw my parents desperately plan the budgets to meet the expense of the bribes that were needed during the entire process of our home’s construction, that my parents were happy to encourage bribes & face any challenge to meet it but were not prepared to challenge the devil (bribery).
I asked myself then… what would have happened if my dad chose to invest his time to help me understand the importance of education instead of quickly agreeing to buy a toy I wanted in return for doing well in my exams. I questioned, what would have happened if my mother chose to teach me the importance of helping her with the chores, instead of paying me fifty paise for fetching the milk. I thought, what would have happened if I had revealed to my aunt, the smoking habit of her husband & forsaken the chocolate for keeping my uncle’s secret.
There was no charity at home anywhere. I now know, when I was thinking about all this as a twelve-year-old, I was at the peak of the conversation with my conscience. My grandma who was no more by then had come back to awaken my unconscious values, & virtues. It was for the first time I realized my responsibilities as a child towards my family, my parents.
Corrupt ideas evolve basis the situation of a person in need of something. The excitement & the need for my parents to move into a new home as soon as possible made, the real estate attorney look like me, who as a child, got chocolates, toys, & money for doing things which were meant to be my responsibilities (Studying for exams), or duty. On the other hand, the excess remuneration my parents paid to him, made them look miserable.
A busy life today is in need of many arbitrators, who can execute the actions on our behalf without disturbing our routine. Vitamin M (Money) is the survival mantra. There is no profound way to determine the cost of dependency on them. Due to lack of time to attend to our personal needs, there is no concern we exhibit to verify the price we are paying for the services obtained from an arbitrator, although, we feel the pinch of it.
The equation of an unreasonable demand = time not available to learn, understand or invest x cost of work not determined + perquisites paid. In short Price = Cost + Profit + Bribe (Corruption).
Are there remedies to fight corruption?
Standardization of remunerations to eradicate undue capacities enjoyed by a handful of people to obtain things easily, Adherence to protocols by Govt. personnel to avoid illicit activities, approved pricing policies for goods sold & services rendered by businessmen to slash the imbalance in earnings, subsidies provided to citizens living below the poverty line, are some of the remedies I could think of from a never-ending list of options available…
We have from ages developed immunity to corruption, as we have felt threatened in many ways to go against it. The educated patch of the population, social media, & the ability of structured thinking developed by the nation’s citizens has given us more power to share & expose the truth today.
My tiny drop of an inference drawn from the ocean of life is, corruption is not something you should fight. It is something you must thoughtfully deal. Let us make a choice!