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Saturday, June 1, 2002

Like the summer heat of India, bribery is something which most of us have come to accept as part of being Indian. And just as in the case of the weather, many of us talk at length but do nothing about it because we think that it is a doomed fight anyway. We haven’t even given it a try. And what is worse, for every one person making that extra effort, there are hundreds actively discouraging from the sidelines. Every one of us should shun the company of such cynics with as much dread and aversion as we would a plague. Show me a single cynical achiever! But then, nor can mere drawing room talk about the all-pervasive corruption bring about a change. Action alone is the solution and the thought of possible failure should not be a deterrent. We have to remember that in attempting great things even failure is great and there is nothing to be ashamed of.

Recently LOK SATTA had been informed that a certain professor in the Osmania Medical College had been charging the final year medical students an amount of Rs.7,500/- to avoid failure or to ensure a pass in the upcoming examinations. One of the relatives of a bribe giver directly reported to us that about 80 students had given the money and something should be done about it. We immediately contacted Dr Anji Reddy, the Director General of Health Services and Mr Mohanty, The Director General of ACB. Both acted promptly. Mr Mohanty trapped two examiners and caught them in the act of taking bribes. Doing a little sleuthing himself, Dr Reddy found that the figure of 80 given by us was inaccurate and that the number of students who paid was actually 95 in all. He immediately ensured that the professor was removed as examiner pending further action.

Dr Reddy and Mr Mohanty could have very easily heard and kept quiet saying to themselves, ‘why should I bother – anyhow not much action can be taken against this person, besides there are so many others in every field doing the same thing or worse’. ‘If this chap is well connected, I might end up being penalized’.  A very typical reaction of most people who are in positions of authority. Fortunately for us, both Dr Reddy and Mr Mohanty are among the few who are more interested in doing a good job rather than just keeping the job and hence were not afraid of any possible ramifications. We do not have too many such individuals who are both honest and courageous. Not everyone is willing to be proactive or capable of being so. Doing the right thing in our present environment requires effort, and why go through all that effort? We need to create an environment where more people in authority are able to stand up and do the right thing. The sad part of this story is over a hundred medicos gave a signed petition asking for the erring professor to be retained as examiner. With the menace of corruption being the staple of most discussion what prompted these bright youngsters to come up with such a request? I wonder!

We cannot afford to tolerate deep-rooted corruption even in areas like examinations, judiciary, recruitments and crime investigation. Neither should we expect people to keep performing heroic acts everyday. Corruption is not the disease. It is only a symptom of the failure of the governance process. This is why working for reforms is so important and so urgent.