Gowhar Naz

Punish bribe givers too!

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Poor governance has been a problem throughout the developing world. But in our case, good government is missing altogether as a result of different reasons, producing a collapsed state that is struggling for existence. Recognition that ‘institutions matter’, and that good governance is a key  to economic growth and development, and a crucial part of any development plan of action, there is an immediate need for a competent and open government both at centre and state. We as responsible citizens need to support organisations working in this space as well.

Poor governance breeds corruption and doom developing countries to poverty. We are all painfully aware that corruption is not a problem unique to poor countries like India and Pakistan but developed countries like America and Japan have faced continuing problems combating it as well. For those who have been closely following Kashmir’s  economic growth and development, it is no surprise that people in Jammu and Kashmir are the worst sufferers of corruption because of government apathy.

The Centre for Media Studies (CMS) in its annual corruption study – CMS India Corruption Study 2017- has placed Jammu and Kashmir along with Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh as most corrupt among 20 surveyed states. The study reveals that “Karnataka (77) followed by Andhra Pradesh (74%), Tamil Nadu (68%), Maharashtra (57), and J&K (44%) emerged as more corrupt states among 20 surveyed states as far as ‘experienced corruption in public services’ is concerned.”

The report states that JK was also among most corrupt states in 2005. “In 2005, the more corrupt states were Bihar (74%), J&K (69%), Odisha (60), Rajasthan (59%) and Tamil Nadu (59%).”Further the study says that more than 33 percent respondents stated that state government is not ‘committed at all’ towards reducing corruption in public services.

It is a fact that our society is a bribe giving and a bribe taking one since times immemorial. Many people in a position demand and take bribes really is a worrying thing. One has to bribe for almost everything including free stuff: driving license, aadhar card, passport, birth and death certificate, marks card and school leaving certificate etcetera.  More worrying is the fact that a greater number of people among us are willing to pay bribe. We beg officers, or people at the helm of affairs to accept our bribes (chai) and do services for us.

A few days ago, I met afriend after a long time. I was excited to know about his well-being, (all) the more so, I was told that he has just got a job after very strenuous efforts. He was happy and unhappy at the same time. When I asked him about the reason for it, he couldn’t hide anything from me (his best friend).I was listening him keenly and biting my nails (a bad habit). He finished his story in 5 minutes. A terrible, terrible story!

Yes, he was happy to see me and happy to get a job for which  he had applied some five years ago — a long wait. Unfortunately, he is yet to receive the joining order.

“Somebody has raised an objection”, he told me. I tried to console him by saying that it was not uncommon, but a normal thing in this part of the world.

Strange but real, now the candidates who have qualified the interview and tentatively got selected were demanding some money (probably 5 thousand) from my friend, so that they can bribe the authorities to get the joining orders as soon as possible. To my surprise those candidates demanding money and willing to do some Jugaad with the officers are actually already doing a government job.

Corruption kills and,  therefore, poor candidates suffer. Incompetent candidates get recruited on political basis murdering the merit and qualifications of deserving candidates.

When something goes wrong, we try to find and punish the blamable individual to avoid the recurrence. I myself have given bribes, but fortunately never taken a one. I corrected my mistake and denied a bribe for passport. My friend denied too.

Bribery is common here in Kashmir. If you claim you have never offered it to anyone, then you must be a liar. Yes, you cannot be an angel, because, there are no angels in Kashmir.

We must punish all those who give bribes and those who take bribes. Take a pledge, never to give a bribe, no matter what the  circumstances may be. This will be a huge sacrifice and the problem is that, we are not in the mood!

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