ROOTS OF CORRUPTION

ENAM LONE

As we seem to plunge further and further into the dark and hopeless abyss of corruption, with scandals and scams of frightening magnitude coming to light one after another, one wonders if there is any likelihood of an end to this menace. Menace that has tightened its grip over a substantial part of our society at a collective level, and of our conscience at the individual level. And, is in process of completely invading and ruining both.

But every once in a while, it pops its head out and shakes the very foundation of our justice and judiciary. We awaken for a brief moment of sanity to protest and seek ‘compensation’. And then dive into the slumber of oblivion again. Amid all this, we forget that the roots of corruption are quite deep beneath the surface and what we are able to see is just a trailer. The Mushtaq Peer drama, similarly, was just the tip of the iceberg. There are countless others out there, preying on the poor and desperate populace, exploiting their necessity and stabbing justice in the heart.

It pains beyond measure to witness the gravity of corruption in Kashmir. Right from the ranks of sweepers all the way up to the power wielding babus. In effect, we seem to be bound together, less by a common thread of culture, society or language, and more by the common trait of corruption.

Something as trivial as getting your ward admitted to a kindergarten standard in a school nowadays requires that you have some ‘channel’. If not a ‘channel’, then spare money, without doubt.

On another similar note, getting an appointment at a doctor’s private clinic requires that you ‘buy’ the doctor’s attendant first. I remember going to such a clinic some time back to get an appointment for the approaching Sunday. It was a Thursday. The person at the counter told me to come by on Monday because all appointments would get booked on Monday itself. Monday afternoon I went there but still he denied me an appointment, citing all sorts of baseless ‘reasons’. I helplessly watched people come, and leave with those ‘acknowledgment slips’ in their hands. But he wouldn’t mind my complaints. It turned out that he wanted some ‘chaai’ as well, in addition to the 300 rupees of doctor’s ‘fee’.

Corruption in the subcontinent in general and the ‘Valley of Saints’ in particular has reached to such an alarming level that it would be a respite for common people if corruption were legalized, and ‘rate lists’ given to people specifying the amount of ‘chaai’ that they’d be required to pay to get what they otherwise deserve by merit. That way, at least, they could save time, if not their hard earned money.

But unfortunately, as of yet, this social disease doesn’t seem to have a readily available cure. No amount of campaigning or social awareness can rid our society of this disease entirely. And we can’t expect any vigilantes to come to our rescue every single time. For those who are supposed to be the custodians of honesty and social equality are not trustworthy any more. It is, again, one of those disabilities of an individual’s conscience and honesty. And the best way out is tending to it at the individual level. As they say, “Charity begins at home.” That way, we can pray, things might take a turn towards the better.

An engineer by profession, the author interests in literature and can be contacted at: www.facebook.com/the.lonely.sojourn

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