Saturday, November 17, 2007

Its not OK

It was only this Friday evening that a few friends and me were having our weekly meandering discussion at a local coffee shop, relaxed in anticipation of the weekend to follow. Amongst the great variety of topics that we touched upon from art movies to career ambitions, we also had a brief banter on corruption. Some of my friends professed a tolerance bordering on admiration for people who took pay-offs under the table but got the job done, citing the example of a certain politician from Bihar, his undeniable charm and his recent success at turning around the Ministry under his charge. After all, the pay package in government jobs hardly amounts to anything, they felt!

Corruption is not exactly the murder of men which on the face makes it seem less evil. But the important fact that most people miss out on is that it is the murder of dreams which is as bad if not worse than actual murder. Money meant for a noble purpose, for the education of those school-children in the rural hinterlands, for that much required government hospital revamp, for that metalled road that would have ushered in a new life into the dying village, all reduced to shambles because of the greed in the system. And why pick on only government projects, the passing of a corporate tender with a little help on the side just means that the actual best offer lost out!

Add to that, the countless frustrations and roadblocks that the man really intent on improving his conditions the right way has to face, finally bowing to them broken and stripped of all hope. The rot that sets in with every hand-out is a cancer eating away all sense of honour and morality, making all intelligent but honest men seem like idealistic fools. The unaccounted for money feeding countless vices and evils which seem to have reached unsurmountable levels today. Unfortunately, people bred and fed on that money unable to think beyond their own sorry selves worship the source of that money as if he/she is some magnanimous philanthropist, forgetting that it's money stained with dead dreams and sold honour. Corruption is choking our breath out and the funny thing is that people are mildly tolerant of that fact.

Its not OK that today the line between heroes and criminals is so blurred, and it really surprises me that people are so confused for it is really not so complex. A businessman who makes his pile cheating the government of taxes is lauded as the harbinger of India's economic boom, worshipped as the face of new India! That the means to getting to an end is as important as the end itself should be a self-evident fact. If a person doesn't care for the means to get to his end, he's just a desperate criminal, plain and simple. A true hero is the one who knows that he has to get there only by the right way or not get there at all. Its not OK to hero-worship someone who jumped the queue, broke into the ticket counter and now is virtuously claiming that "Look! I am giving away free tickets!"

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