Corruption can be addictive

Corruption can be addictive. Often, persons who start making money by unfair means continue to do so, sometimes without any sense of proportion.

One day in the early 1990s, I visited my customer, a private limited company, to finalise their requirement of spare parts for 4 machines which were in the last month of Warranty. The Managing Director introduced me to their new General Manager who had been the DGM (Materials) of a large automotive ancillary. The MD told me that henceforth, the GM would handle all spare parts requirements. All capital equipment requirements would continue to be handled by the MD. He also told the GM that he had very high regard for me and trusted me completely. After a cup of tea, I accompanied the GM to his room.

The GM explained to me that, while we had submitted a quotation for various spare parts amounting to about Rs. 60,000.00, most of these parts were not needed immediately. They would immediately order only the urgently required spare parts amounting to about Rs. 5,000.00.

This was followed by an interesting conversation.
GM: How much cash payment will I get?
I: Sorry, sir. Our prices do not contain any provision for cash payment.
GM: You should be able to pay something, at least a few percent.
I: Sir, even if we can pay 5% of the order value, it would be only Rs. 250.00. I would not like to insult you by offering such a low amount. It would be worse if my Head Office agrees to a lower percentage like 2%.
GM: I’m OK with whatever you can offer. Please check with your Head Office and let me know. When can I expect your call?
I: The day after tomorrow.

The GM had actually asked for a bribe of Rs. 100.00 (2% of Rs. 5,000.00)! Even considering that their annual requirement of spare parts would be about Rs. 60,000.00, 2% of that amount would be Rs. 1,200.00 per year. As I had told him, this would not be a bribe, it would be an insult!

I was totally confused. Was this guy actually asking for a measly bribe of Rs. 1,200.00 per year, or was he testing me? If he was testing me, was it with or without his MD’s knowledge and approval? If he was actually asking for a bribe, wasn’t he afraid that, in view of my excellent equation with his MD, I might report the matter to his MD? Of course, I realised that, if I reported the matter, he would claim that I had misinterpreted his attempt to get a discount for the company.

I had to close the matter. After considerable thought, I hit upon a solution. Two days later, I telephoned the MD on his direct line, explained that I had been trying to reach the GM, but was unable to get through (this incident took place before the advent of cellphones), and informed him that I had referred the GM’s request for discount to my Head Office, but we could not offer any discount. The matter was closed.

7 thoughts on “Corruption can be addictive

  1. It happened to me also. Suddenly the HR mgr of a leading company/client was in my office around 9am a few years back with no warning. I was surprised. After a few small conversations he said his daughter’s marriage is fixed. He asked me point blank a large sum of money. I said I do not do such things; if he invites me, I shall give an appropriate gift.

    I did not complain though I did know all his bosses. No business came for about 2 years till his activities were discovered and he was dismissed!

    • I appreciate that you did not agree to his request/demand knowing fully well that you were likely to lose business. Very few persons put their money where their mouth is!
      However, why did you choose not to complain to his bosses?

      • Probably prisoner of the typical middle-class mindset -“Why buy trouble?” and be indifferent to wrongdoings or accident victims on the road.

  2. I just started reading your blog recently and I loved the posts I read! Great work! I always felt the need for a positive yet sensible blog on India and I am glad you are filling that gap. (In your proactive style, please don’t ask why I didn’t try to write it myself :P)

  3. In India corruption is known by many different connotations – in the north “ghoose”, in the west as “chaipani”, in Karnataka -“sulpa adjust maadi”, generally it is incurred as “speed/faclitation money” to kept out nuisance value. Big tycoons paid their ‘consultants’ Radia “Professional Fees”! They are not concerned what the ‘consultant’ does with the money!

  4. Pingback: Corruption: a twist in my life | Proactive Indian

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