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It was a cold Wednesday morning and like most people I went online to check up on the news. To primarily check on global happenings and also if my company has been acquired by Reliance Jio as yet. Am I officially part of the Jio family?

I was almost about to start plucking rose petals, “Mota bhai loves me. He loves me not”. Just then I stumbled upon an intriguing piece of news, which boldly stated that India has been crowned as Asia’s most corrupt nation according to a report by corruption watchdog, Transparency International.

As a patriotic Indian my immediate reaction was that this has to be a conspiracy hatched by Pakistan, China or it could even be Papua New Guinea. Basically, anyone is to be blamed but ourselves.

As per the report, India’s bribery rate stands at 39 percent. Also, fifty percent of people who paid bribes were directly asked for a bribe. When you come to think of it this is a fairly encouraging figure, at least people are not left guessing whether to bribe or not.

Further on the report stated that thirty-two percent of people who used personal connections agreed that they would not have got access to public services had they not used them. This is pure networking. Many of the connections we form as humans are merely for some sort of future gain. Like for example in a flight if you observe an elderly couple striking up a conversation with you and being ultra-curious about your life and overtly friendly, there is a good chance that they are merely judging you at the back of their mind for your suitcase carrying abilities.It’s just that you don’t really realise that you are the one being interviewed out there.

I recollect the simpler times we used to live in the early nineties. when the Indian economy had not really opened up to globalisation. At that time and it was sort of every non-resident Indian’s duty to smuggle in all sorts of foreign branded goods for loved ones back home. Even if one had to wear six watches over your wrists in flights it was socially acceptable.

As John F Kennedy once said, "Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.". Quite evidently he would have not come across NRIs packing for a trip to India wherein luggage weight was directly proportional to your patriotism or the lack of it. Airlines in general were perfectly comfortable with any luggage weight till the time immediate family members were not enclosed within the suitcases.Nosy distant relatives were allowed though as a matter of airline policy.Many years later baggage weight rules were introduced which spoiled the fun for all of us at large.

This was way before social media was a big thing and one could not really throw any ‘social media influencer’ tantrums in front of airport staff to get away easily.The customs official was always a revered personality who was entrusted with the powers to decide what goodies a nation of one billion-plus deserves or not. It was pretty heartening to see scores of NRIs pleading one by one to the customs authorities with creative excuses to avoid paying any duties or many times bribes too

Corruption is merely a parallel economy in a way and in a country with limited employment opportunities it has given rise to thousands of middlemen across the country who help getting your government work done for a fee.This fee paid to the middlemen is basically a bribe to have the glorious opportunity to reach someone influential within the government department and bribe them. Then again, the middleman is a modern-day magician whose supreme confidence, I truly aspire to inculcate within myself someday.

“Madam I am telling you don’t worry I have my guy at the customs. Just last Sunday we got a whole elephant in through the green channel. And you are taking tension for a LED TV?”

While doing my chartered accountancy course there was a major focus on ethics and the importance of financial accountability, and rightly so because students after completing the course would mostly join corporates and be responsible for managing financial affairs.

The ethical dilemma for private-sector employees unlike government employees is a bit different. For in the private sector at large no one really offers you bribes for actually doing your job. I believe private sector employees should at least have the privilege of being asked for a bribe however small it is. Whether they accept it or not is secondary. My argument is that at least then the employee can get a chance to judge and introspect where his or her moral compass truly lies.

“I will make you an offer that you can’t resist. Take my complaint for my faulty Wi-Fi connection and your Netflix subscription this month is on my account.”

“Sir can you make it for two months. There is a Diwali discount offer going on.It will be cheaper for you only”

However, what the report points us to are simply facts about corruption and as a country we are all about belief not facts. It’s the supreme ability to look at an alarming fact on its face and saying “No that doesn’t really work for me”. It's pretty much how we decide the poverty line in our country.

In conclusion, beyond corruption there are many important affairs to focus on really. A nation of one billion-plus people and we have to make do with only one Naagin TV show. What a shame! We were supposedly the original land of snake charmers. Alas, we can all just live in hope and most definitely die with it.

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