Remarkable Efficiency in the Corruption System?

The whole Indian system is bloody inefficient- Says who?”, thundered my pal; Mr. Professional (MP) recently when I was cribbing about inefficiency being the principal ingredient of the Indian DNA.

“Have you ever tried registering your property (site/house)? Then you would have inevitably come across the remarkably efficient bribe system. Everything is fixed. The bribe you pay (over and above the registration charges of course) is either a fixed percentage of your property value; or follows slab-rates depending on the property value. It doesn't end there. Each person's share of this pie is clearly defined beforehand, all the way up to the minister; no less. And have you ever stopped to marvel at the process of bribe collection and distribution?”

I definitely saw sense in what MP was saying. I pointed him to this excellent article by Atanu Dey which explains how trucks are routinely overloaded in exchange for a bribe. I was astounded at the way it works – and how seamless the entire process seams to be. Everyone stands to gain – the lorry operator, the corrupt officials at the check-point, the road construction contractor, and not to mention the babus and netas.

That only charged up MP all the more. He now focused his energies on bashing the LPG cylinder delivery chain. “Do you have any idea why you have to wait for 10 days to even 2 weeks for delivery of you LPG cylinder from the day you book it? It's because the dealers are stocking it up and providing it in black. The process is so streamlined, you won't even suspect something's cooking. You'll even dismiss the delay as yet another manifestation of the Great Indian Inefficiency Syndrome!”

Well, well, well. MP's right this time. The various processes and systems which corruption has spawned should be taught as subjects at the various B-Schools. They're probably six-sigma or better. If only this skill had been put to proper use. And here we are, the educated middle class, who's blissfully putting it all down to inefficiency. Ha!

Poland to Castrate Paedophiles

According to this news item in today's ToI, Poland has approved a law that mandates castration of child sex offenders in some cases. The news item also adds in the same breath that this move has sparked criticism from human rights groups.

Two points I want to raise here:

One – Heinous crimes call for heinous punishment! Why can't other countries around the world take such concrete and seriously tough steps to curb the menace of child sex abuse?

Two – The part about criticism from human rights groups had me thinking: Can an adult who mercilessly sexually abuses a child really qualify as “human”? Why can't human rights groups look from the child's point of view for once?

Looking forward to a humane world which treats its children as human too!

B-Cancer and T-Cancer

We all have heard about blood cancer and lung cancer. But, ever since I came to know that my close friend Lai has “nose cancer”; I have been discussing with friends and I came to know about forms of cancer I had never heard about – cancer in the knee-cap, in the esophagus.

Another very prevalent form of cancer about which awareness is only recently increasing is breast cancer. In the past five years, I have known of about eight women who have lost their lives to B-cancer. All Indian, most of them middle-aged. I always used to hold our culture and women's attitudes responsible in equal measure for this. Its not only about awareness. Its also about the social outlook towards the problem. We Indians being notoriously conservative in all these (often wrong) matters; the problem is only compounded. People (both women and their husbands) shying away from consulting doctors; and self-examination being either unheard of, or worse – people having partial and wrong information about self-examination. After all, its our great culture, I used to think, where even using the B-word is taboo (if you haven't noticed, I'm even using “B-word” .. instead of .. well .. the B-word) – let alone getting oneself examined for cancer.

But that was before a friend told me about yet another form of the disease – testicular cancer. A few days after I came to know about this, I was also pointed to former World cycling champion Lance Amstrong's story (he has survived T-cancer to become the world champion).

And now that I know about T-Cancer, I no longer blame women or culture or society for the prevalence of B-Cancer. Suddenly, I understand the hesitation, the shame, the shyness that women must be going through when faced with the prospect of an examination. I understand it is not only about the examination itself – it is also about how to face society. Which also explains the hesitation to consult even lady doctors.

However; shame, shyness, culture – none of these justify neglecting or concealing the disease, whether B-Cancer or T-Cancer. It is a matter of life or death, for God's sake! I feel that the awareness (at least regarding B-Cancer) is spreading these days – which is definitely a good thing. All we need now is a change in societal outlook towards these killers – an outlook which strongly discourages young men and women from ignoring these diseases.

On a closing note, I think we should put the internet to good use in such matters. Information regarding self-examinations for various forms of cancer is available on the internet; including videos (for example on sites like videojug). These can be used to make the youngsters more aware of these issues; which would help them take preventive measures.

Looking forward to a society which values human life more than it does shame! JAI BHARAT.

Stricter Traffic Rules: The Real Reason

There was a news item last month - traffic violations in Bangalore will become dearer; not only in terms of the fine applicable, but also in the sense that repeat violators stand to lose their driving licenses. It appears to be a very good move .. on the face of it.

But just dig a bit deeper; and suddenly it all becomes very clear. It is just a very smart way for the traffic police to make more money; and demand more bribes. The target – those people who insist on paying the fine and getting the receipt rather than paying a bribe.

Given a choice between paying a bribe and getting your “violation” tracked, thereby risking losing your license; what would you prefer? I think I'd rather pay the bribe – principles take a back seat. Especially because of the fact that it is virtually impossible to drive in Bangalore without breaking some rule or the other – albeit unwittingly. For,

  • Many of the signals are faulty. Some signals stay permanently red for most of the days; and suddenly start functioning properly only when there is a cop around.

  • With bullies behind you honking and shouting and abusing you when you wait at a red signal, I think the sensible option is to face the police rather than face the bullies!

  • Signals in Bangalore do not follow a standard convention (especially the “blinking green arrow”, free left turns; “free straight” all are very irregular)

  • Huge number of signals are obscured by signboards, trees, and other such.

  • Most importantly, sometimes you are concentrating on the vehicles around you rather than craning your neck to see where the signal light is. Or, you are following a bus and the signal is simply not visible.

Bottom line – since it is very difficult to perfectly follow the rules while driving in Bangalore; and since I would not risk losing my license; I think I will need to compromise on the “no-bribe” principle if this proposal is implemented by the transport department.

On a closing note, how I wish the traffic police and transport department tried to target the deliberate violators; rather than the unfortunate ones who break the rules by mistake!

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Disclaimer: This is my personal blog. All the views and opinions expressed on this blog are entirely my own and do not reflect the views of my employer, organization, relatives, friends, acquaintances or any other person/entity.