Corruption : A Need for Middle Class Indians

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By Bishwajit Okram

Corruption is made to be a requirement for middle class survival in India, many middle class individual in the country thinks. Anna Hazare, whose crusade against corruption in India hit the headlines in all the major national and international news papers in recent past, is relentless in his fight to remove this basic requirement for middle class survival in India. But these middle class are not expecting anything from him.
During the most beautiful festive season, October-November, I along with my two daughters and wife, paid a month long holiday trip to my country, India. I have been quite inquisitive, and extremely curious about the so called ‘second independence struggle’ of the noted Gandhian, Anna Hazare, against the corruption in India. He has become my idol for his courageous struggle. Therefore, the first and foremost thing I did once I landed in India, was to talk to my friends about his movement against corruption in India.
I reckon, visibly, there was nothing much changed in Delhi except for the well carpeted Indira Gandhi International Airport and the posh shopping malls mushrooming here and there! All, manifesting the burgeoning growth of middle class in India!
The greedy taxi drivers still remain the same. House wives are still squabbling and wrangling with vegetable vendors for the price of vegetables they buy. Corporate executives are busy greeting and presenting gifts to their valuable customers and clients under the opportunity of Diwali festival, but to retain and gain loyalty. My friendly friends, as always, ask if I got duty free Scotch, Black Dog, French wine and Chocolates.
As it was Diwali time, families were busy counting the gifts and the presents they received and expected to receive. Babus, in other posh colonies and Pandara road colony of Delhi, are cooling their heels waiting for Diwali gifts from the urban middle class; all in the name of the festival but indeed for a purpose otherwise.
Indian middle class has the busiest day in a year: the eve of Diwali. Roads are flooded with haughty, snarled, and unruly, drive to kill traffics. One must see Diwali eve of Delhi, there are lots to understand from it.
Now, it is time to talk to them, which I did to some of them representing the hardcore middle income group and my friends. For the sake of their privacy, I have not revealed the real names but the followings are their strange but very valid views on the subject matter.
Many think the system of corruption in India is too big that it can not easily be changed. People, mostly from the middle income group thinks Anna and his team can not remove this system.
One such individual from a middle income group from Delhi, Gagan Singh, an accountant by profession, said: “This system can be changed by the people who are in the system : the middle class. Anna and his team are not from middle class and they are not in the system”. Philosophically he added: “ A system is made by a vast majority of people. For India the vast majority of the people is from the middle income group. Therefore, without the determination of the middle income group of people, corruption can not be waived off from India.”
According to a survey of Transparency International, 55% of Indian, in some stage and in some form had paid bribes to get jobs done in public offices successfully. Incidentally, nearly 50% of Indian family comes under middle income group. If one reconciles the two figures, what Gagan Singh said was not far from truth.
One Aruna Chauhan, a marketing executive in Delhi, said: “ Look at the team Anna, senior leaders are mostly those who have both time and money. Their profiles speaks for themselves: Kiran Bedi, a former IPS officer; Arvind Kejriwal,a former Revenue officer; Shanti Bhushan and Prasant Bhusan, both are noted lawyers; Manish Sisodia, a former Zee News Producer. The crowd who gathered around them were mostly students and young executives who have time, if not money.”
She added: “People from middle income group do not have either money or time to spare for such activities. They are worried about their survival on day to day basis. In a highly competitive environment such as India, without paying bribe it is very difficult to get my works done first and faster than the others”.
India is now the world’s third largest economy. It is expecting to grow further, which means greater scope and opportunities for scams and scandals. The country’s image has been badly tarnished by 2G Spectrum scams, commonwealth game scams, fodder scams and many more other scams. Aruna was perhaps right under such circumstances of economic opportunities, for a middle class, the only way to pass through hurdles of obstacles in her growth could be by greasing palms of those who can let her pass the hurdles. And it all began from here, the so called corruption.

Another IT professional, Imtiaz Khan said: ‘It is not team Anna who can bring a change into the system but the Information Technology (IT). Corruption is about lack of transparency and IT can bring this transparency.’
Boby Bazwa a self employed 40 years old , father of 2 children in Delhi said, ‘In India corruption is needed, for a normal men to grow in his life and in his business as much as a sick person needs vitamin and medicine to cure his illness’.
He sarcastically said on being asked why he did not join the movement of Anna Hazare : ‘Anna is 74 years old man, free from many of day to day family responsibilities. He has time to go for it.’
Many, having said all these opinions, in their heart, secretly desire to change this corrupt system however pessimistic they may be about Anna Hazare and team. But their points are worth considering: it is indeed those who are in the system that should stand up to change the system because they only knitted the maze of corruption, they can unravel it as well. Otherwise, corruption will remain as a need for the middle class Indians.

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