Corruption of the people, by the people, for the people!

A few days back, a family friend was complaining about how a particular member of the housekeeping staff in her apartment complex ‘requests’ for a tip every time she sees gift-wrapping paper in the garbage!

Why did our friend give a tip whenever asked for? This housekeeping staff member’s responsibilities include collecting the garbage bags kept outside each apartment every morning. If there is no garbage bag outside any apartment, she rings the doorbell and asks the occupant to hand over the garbage bag. She is not obliged to do this. Our friend was afraid that, if the housekeeping staff member was unhappy with her, she would not ring her doorbell whenever she forgot to keep her garbage bag outside her door, which happens quite frequently.

Strangely, our friend’s cousin living in the same apartment complex also forgets to keep her garbage bag outside her door quite often, but the same housekeeping staff member has never asked her for tips.

Why this difference?

The maintenance and housekeeping of the apartment complex is done by a contractor. The housekeeping staff member is an employee of this contractor. She is not supposed to do any work other than that assigned to her by her employer. The residents are not supposed to get any personal work done by the contractor’s employees. The residents are also not supposed to make any kind of payments to the contractor’s employees.

One day, when our friend’s part-time domestic help had not turned up for work, our friend had asked the housekeeping staff member to wash her vessels. When the housekeeping staff member politely pointed out that she was not allowed to do such work, our friend suggested that she could do it during her lunch break. She offered to pay Rs. 50. The housekeeping staff member jumped at this opportunity to make some extra money! Soon, this became a regular feature. To ensure the housekeeping staff member’s ‘loyalty’, our friend started tipping her during festivals, and paying her larger amounts whenever she helped to clean and decorate the house before a birthday party or clean up after the party.

One day, the contractor realised what was happening, and warned his employee that she would lose her job if this was not stopped immediately. She stopped doing any work at our friend’s house. However, by now, she had got used to the extra money. Hence, whenever she saw gift-wrapping paper in our friend’s garbage bag, she would request our friend for a tip! Our friend claims that, when she did not tip on a couple of occasions, she experienced the ‘non-cooperation’ described earlier. Hence, she would give a tip whenever asked for.

Our friend had become a victim of the ‘corruption’ which she had herself created! No politician, bureaucrat or policeman was involved. This was corruption of the people, by the people, for the people!

I reiterate what I had stated in my post ‘Can we eradicate corruption? Yes We Can!’: many people believe that the nation will undergo a transformation the moment Narendra Modi becomes Prime Minister in 2014. Many others believe that will happen the moment Rahul Gandhi becomes PM. Many, many others believe that will happen the moment Aam Aadmi Party comes to power. Frankly, all are living in fools’ paradise. The government and the PM do have an important role to play, but any transformation in our nation is possible only if we, the people of India, change for the better.

14 thoughts on “Corruption of the people, by the people, for the people!

  1. The all pervading corruption begins with the citizens and the society in which we live in. The Mumbai police first question the watchmen who have a convenient excuse for leaving their post – to get milk, bread and eggs for the residents and more particularly for the Secretary and/or the Chairman. When compared with this, the garbage woman’s corruption is nothing. Who lured her into it? An upper class memsaab!

  2. Whether NaMo or RaGa or even AAP will be able to rid us of this deep seated cancer is still a matter of doubt. Here we don’t consider the ‘maamul’, hafta, chaai paani or ghoose as bad by any stretch of imagination because it is ‘speed money’ or ‘facilitation fees’. When passed on by Niira Radia, it is for Professional Lobbyist Services rendered!

    • The doctor can prescribe the treatment. The patient has to agree to be treated.

      NaMo or RaGa or AAP would be the doctor. The patient is WE, the people of India. We have to agree to refrain from corruption.

  3. Perhaps we are giving credence to petty jobbers, ourselves do not have regards for job they do & target them as corrupt ones. That is only power we can exercise being middle class. We are the real culprits, keep criticizing, sitting in comfort & not taking part in making the country. We do not have any idea about the ground realities, how the poor make their living. Even a single meal can buy a vote, & for decades corrupt governance continues?

  4. 🙂 The “flexibility” was her downfall. The one giving is as much the culprit, if not more, as the one who receives. My building kaamwali went through a love(when we were new)-hate(when we refused to indulge her)-indifference (when we ignored her) and now, rather sarcastic humor (when she knows she can’t change us).
    It drives me crazy, however, when people paid to do their jobs expect a tip to do that same job shoddily.
    We can practice, we can teach our own. If each one did that, there’s hope for a better India.
    Last week, when children were speaking about corruption as a topic of debate at my son’s school, it was very interesting. The sponsors, in their speech quoted a funny example of corruption that we shrug off – There was this kid who would pick up pens from school. So one day the father scolded the kid telling him not to bring stuff from school. Instead, he would bring it from the office.” Ha. ha.

  5. Actually, I would call it a blackmailing tactic. It has become part of our life, whether it is a shopkeeper, autowaala, kaamwaali, kacharaawaala, a boss in the company, or client. If it is not part of written document, everyone tries to exploit the situation in their favor. I just treat this how one
    manages & negotiates the situation. To curtail the corruption one need to have proper system in place.
    I would like to narrate one incident wherein I was caught talking over phone while driving. The constable was not willing to let me of with bribe less than of Rs. 200. When he noticed I had only Rs. 150 in wallet, he simply let me off without any bribe. A great human gesture of corrupt police! But I paid him Rs 150 as bakshish for this.

  6. Funny! In America we take our own garbage to the curb. We don’t have servants unless we are rich enough to pay for them. Blackmailing is not cool, but getting ahead by working a second job as in the case of the situation above would be applauded. It seems like the owner (contractor) doesn’t really want any of his people to rise above their poverty situation. Maybe he should contractor more jobs within the apartment building so that his people could earn more money. To do an extra job on your own time should never be considered conflict of interest, since the contractor is not providing the service to anyone in the building.


    • Thank you for your comment, Mary.
      I will reply to your comment in detail, perhaps in the form of a separate post!
      For now, I’ll say just this: some things that work well in America may not work at all in India.

      • Good to see comments from an American. Just a comment on the garbage part (nothing about corruption), it sometimes pains me to see really old Americans living by themselves in their homes and doing their household chores. When I first moved to a home, the household chores coupled with the harsh, extreme weather were really overwhelming. I had a neighbor approaching 90 and living alone who was a mow-aholic (always mowing his lawn!) …sometimes he used to rake our leaves too (bless his kind soul) !!!

        Now on the corruption part… I cannot remember any instance of corruption (ie. breaking rules for ‘financial’ gain) from our puranas – Ramayana, Mahabharata.. can anybody ? There may be some instances of Lord Krishna ‘cheating’ – pressing Arjuna’s chariot down to protect from Karna’s arrow – to get the ‘good’ side to win ! Hopefully we are not taking that as license to ‘cheat’ ??! Krishna also said ‘Do your duty without expecting any rewards’ — perhaps He knew we Indians (or could I say Hindus) will especially NEED that advice ??! I have observed (with shame) that the western societies are practising this tenet more than us Indians.

  7. I fully agree that most Indians are always hoping & praying for good things to happen without having to do anything themselves. As simple as watching a cricket match on TV (i.e. no real cost involved) and hoping and praying that Sachin will hit a century and India wins. And when India wins, millions of these couch potatoes feel they have won because they rooted for Sachin and India. Such tendencies are also strengthened by our Hindi movies where the hero ( and heroine) face unbelievable difficulties but finally win. And the audience, who had paid some money for tickets, come out feeling like winners. Similarly, we expect everything going wrong to suddenly become right just because we took the trouble to believe in NaMO / Kejriwal/ Rahul and actually went and voted for him. The trouble is we don’t want to take any trouble ourselves or make any changes (I won’t even call them sacrifices) in our lives, in order to see things change in our society. The educated middle and upper middle class have become a pseudo-intellectual armchair society, with great ability to argue about right and wrong, but without any intention to act. Meanwhile, the political class and the business class continue to exploit the poor and the system respectively to get what they want.

    So unless more and more people actually become like Arvind Kejriwal or Narendra Modi and start changing the way things were done in the past, without fear of consequences, we cannot expect the improvements we are used to hoping & praying for.

  8. Pingback: Tangy Tuesday Picks consist of amazing posts picked from Indian blogs.

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