Once there was a milkman who delivered milk to a busy middle class society of Mumbai. As part of his daily ritual, he milked his cows early morning, collected the milk in a utensil, measured the day's produce and then, as his unspoken responsibility as the ideal milkman, added water to increase the quantity. Of course, aunties complained and growled about how milk was bland and wouldn’t produce decent yoghurt. They bickered together under the banyan tree and even gave an earful to their disinterested husbands. On his part, the milkman never once failed to defend the milk and its purity or himself and his honesty. He fought the noisiest women, convinced the suggestible and reasoned with the most logical. By the end, he was accepted as ‘the milkman’ for ‘this society’ and they all got used to watery milk and unsettled curd.
The shameless open secret of adding water to milk now serves as a constant fodder for jokes and wisecracks and is thus accepted as well. What would a society be without its jokes? It has become part of the society’s culture and they cannot think of living a life with no water in their milk anymore. Everybody happy.
This story of resentment, anger, expression and then acceptance sounds reminiscent of our struggle with corruption. As an independent free country, we embraced socialism and inducted every inch of it in our fractured democratic system. Socialism did not pave way for the liberation of 'Aam Aadmi', instead unleashed a big monster of bureaucracy and red tape-ism. The task of clogging every functional artery with the bile of corruption was undertaken with such brute force that we were left no choice but to learn a life with clogged veins pumping evil. We withered, lost economic independence and surrendered our collective progress-economic and psychological, to corruption. Getting any work done without a decent amount of donation started sounding like a fable - Possible in our imaginations, yet so unreal.
We, on our part, like women in the household society, bickered and tried to rebel initially but, eventually embraced the system with its many follies. (Few exceptions, like that of Janta Party's movement in 1977, led by Jayprakash Narayan, which brought down Indira Gandhi's Governments)
Over the period of time, our undue tolerance towards this sweet habit of corruption has made Switzerland synonymous with bank accounts with over US $1456 Billion of black money, apart from snow-clad mountains and pink sarees. Hefty scams spanning everything from food, railways, clothes, oil, aviation, sports, international sporting events and 2G spectrum have made an Indian contribution to Swiss accounts. If Transparency International ranks us one of the most corrupt governments in the world, we are not surprised. Frankly, nothing bothers any one anymore. It's all a given to Indians. It’s accepted; and expected.
This is what the cynic in us would have us believe. Because he would choose to ignore the calls made by Anna Hazare for the draft committee of Janlokpal Bill, his hunger strike to table the crucial legislation When Anna Hazare declared a fast unto death, social media and national news was abuzz with activity. People poured all out for the support and common call for justice. They seem tired of Government's reluctance to work efficiently and give them their due. They were tired of terrorist attacks, housing society scams, Common Wealth shame and 2G spectrum fiasco. Tired.
And if you are tired of your stifled capacity to do anything for the country, if you are genuinely looking for potential solutions to the Indian condition, there’s somewhere you would certainly want to be – The Freedom From Corruption meet, April 27th-28th, India Habitat Centre, Delhi.
Parimal Tripathi is a volunteer content writer for Jaagore. To learn and speak about issues on street children, environmental pollution, garbage disposal, corruption, volunteering, volunteer work, community services, NGOs, Anti Corruption in India, social and civic issues visit http://www.jaagore.com
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