Sunday, January 07, 2007

The Indian Railways, the Army and my first experience at Bribery!

Me and my friend K were returning from New Delhi to Chennai after our exams at Chandigarh. After a looong bus ride to New Delhi we found ourselves standing at the end of a short queue at the current booking counter of the New Delhi Railway station.

Standing in the queue was quite uneventful except for a guy or two who tried to jump the queue inviting abusive language from the others. Then there were the women who refused to stand in a queue and considered themselves too big for such formalities. The guy at the counter was fair he sent back every one of those women. Standing in the queue was so uneventful, that even after an hour we found our queue was shorter by just 6-7!

While inside the counter there was so much activity that it could have been easily mistaken for a tout's office, but for the location. There were people walking in at frequent intervals, slips of 'paper' were passed around and the guy sitting behind the counter had booked around 15 - 20 tickets in the same time we had been standing!

As we got closer to the counter we learnt that we had to cough up a few extra notes to get the tickets. Those who did not utter the magic password were told that the chart has not arrived, and to come later! K asked me if I had any 'experience' at bribing, though both had none we were emboldened by those around us and we decided to go ahead.

By the time our turn came someone senior had come into the counter and was watching over things with hawk eyes. So when our turn came we uttered 'Sir urgent, we're ready to pay extra' The counter guy still told us to wait. An hour later when the 'hawk eye' left suddenly the chart appeared by magic and we were all given tickets after paying him some bribe.

Our bribing didn't end there, when we rushed to the train, We found, there were many like us who had obtained current tickets by bribing the counter people but through the back entrance. The TTE came a little while later, we had to then pay a bribe to get a berth to sleep! We shared the cabin with a few army men who were returning home for their holidays which was already delayed by the snow fall in Kashmir causing them to forfeit their previously reserved tickets. We learnt, that even they, had to bribe their way to get into the train and then also to get a berth!

It's bad that our country's government officials are neck deep into bribery and corruption that they're bold enough to accept bribes over the counter in full public view. It's even worse that most departments of our government have powerless vigilance departments.

It's bad that we don't remember or respect the men who brave rough weather and the enemy to protect us with their lives. It's shameful, that our government officials who lead cosy lives, have to suck bribes out of these poor army men also.

So at the end of the day, even before I have earned enough to become a tax paying citizen, I have already bribed twice and become a bribe paying Indian citizen!

6 comments:

Vi said...

The queue situation sounds familiar. When I last visited India I was waiting to buy a train ticket as well and several people walked right up to the counter.

Can't say too much about the bribery--at least you know that you can eventually get your way if you add a bit of incentive.

Arcopol Chaudhuri said...

Dude, since now all of this bribery is happening in full-public view, I really wouldn't be surprised if a few years down the line, you have billboards springing up in town..
PAY YOUR BRIBES ON TIME.
Hehehee

Cheers!

Prahalathan said...

@ vi
It's unfortunate that the queue situation is familiar. I was not asking for anything illegal... I was only asking for an empty ticket on the train :(

@ Arcopol Chaudhuri
Pay your bribes on time! Avoid problems with govt. officials... Interesting possibility :D

Prahalathan said...

@ Desipundit
Thanks guys!

Dr Lokeshwar said...

bribing has become india's charecter!
i hate bribing but the system here will engulf you inside slowly(endocytosis) and ultimately there is much possibility that you will also be bribing in time course?
i beleive that what supreme court said recently,should be implemented for the nation's welfare......"hang those who are corrupt"
shankar shows the effects in indian....but whereis the root...?why is that a person who is strong that he wont pay bribes is termed as "polaikka theriyadawan"
peoples attitude should also change?
regarding vigilance...i'm afraid if it is acting!
only solution to save the country-'HANG CORRUPT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD WHEN WHOLE PUBLIC IS WATCHING"(gulf style)
may sound a bit harsh....but corrupt are being saved in the name of democracy!
has vijaykanth anything to say?

Prahalathan said...

dr lokeshwar
Corrupt leaders should be hanged like that to make an example for others. Justice should be speedy... cases should be disposed off within a year.