October 21, 2010

How I fought Corruption & so can you...

Ok, before I go on and blog about an incident that happened to me let me clarify a few points. Also since this account is detailed, it may seem to be long, however the issue is certainly something you guys would have a view on. So please bear with me.

1. We all may or may not have faced corruption, given in to temptation or have taken that as an option to ease our tasks. Let me confess I have in the past, once or twice... So I have been guilty...

2. I chose not to complain or crib in this post, but to just tell you a few points that could help you if you are in a situation like this. What your choice is later is completely up to your convenience. But the truth to the matter is, if you try, it's not difficult to resist it.

3. Lastly, I have not chosen to fight individuals in this incident and hence not revealing location / place where it happened. You also have the option of fighting it out in the court of law. But I have not done that as I don't consider myself to be completely devoid of corruption in my life so far and yes, we all may have made mistakes, lied, cheated been corrupt for we all are human including the person who is involved in the situation. The idea here was to fight the issue not the person. I may or may not have impacted the person in a positive or a negative way, however the idea was to do it the right way because I want to start making a change, moving forward and hope to succeed every time. I'll try. What happens next.. only time will tell. Fight the issue, not the people...

Here goes the story:

Well, I had to go to the Police Station to register a complaint of a lost National Savings Certificate which I had bought from a post office six years ago. Since I had lost it, I needed to file an NC / Complaint and procure a Certificate / Document also known as a 'Praman Patra' to produce in the post office to then follow a lengthy procedure of 1 or 2 months to get my money back.

So all that was required from the Police Station, was that certificate.

Question: What does one need to do to get that document?

Answer: He/She needs to file an NC/Complaint. Sign there and get it.

What happened here:

Me: Sir, I need to file a complaint of a lost NSC. I need a certificate / receipt of the complaint from you to show it to the post office.

Cop: (Asks a lot of questions, shows me some documents, affidavits so to speak, tries to understand whether I know the law or not... I comply and pretend to be ignorant and let him lead the conversation.) He deduces I'm ignorant and gives me his pitch.

He says, "You'll need an affidavit from a lawyer which will state all these points and then we will give you a certificate!

Me: Are you sure? But the post office told me, I just need to file an NC and then you'll issue me the certificate.

Cop: Forget what they said, I'm telling you this.

Me: So do you know where I can find a lawyer?

Cop: You go and find. I don't know anyone here.

Then the conversation get's interrupted, someone else comes and another cop comes to him. He asks me to sit aside in a chair and that he'll deal with me in a bit. (Probably a ploy to make me anxious. His first attempt to negotiate a deal out of me)

Cop: Kulkarni, ithe ya (Come here)

As I walk up to him, he looks at all the documents I carry along with me. (NSC Photocopy, My ID Proof and a written application in Marathi)

Cop: Me ek bolu ka tumhala? (Shall I tell you something?)

Me: Yes please tell me. (By this time I anticipate what he is going to say)

Cop: You'll go to get an affidavit done from a lawyer. How much will the stamp paper cost?

Me: I don't know sir.

Cop: Rs. 100, And do you know how much would the lawyer's fees be?

Me: I don't know sir.

Cop: Rs. 200, Also Rs. 100 for typist to write the affidavit.

Me: Is that so? *Me thinks, he thinks, I'm from Alibag*

Cop: So, what I can tell you is... something for your convenience, we can get this sorted out. See you'll have to pay at least Rs. 500 to them anyways, now we all know how our duty is. Konhi pan ek paisa aso kivhan shambhar rupaye aso, kadhi tyaala nahi nai bolnar. (Whether it's 1 rupee or 100 rupees no one of us would say no to it.) His own way, convincing himself, or rather me of what he's doing is okay and acceptable. Which maybe right in his own point of view.

Me: *Now I've got him* So how much do I give you?

Cop: It's upto you.

Me: Sir, I'm telling you the truth, right now I've only 80 Rs. in my wallet. (Trying to find out how much he would quote, which he never did)

I again got interrupted by another issue he attended, in fact, this was another girl who had lost her blackberry and this cop had dismissed her and her mom, stating some technical reason. Probably she knew someone in the Police Station, a higher up and immediately there was another Inspector out there. He scolded this constable and told him to get the NC/FIR/Complaint done and give them the certificate. The same thing I needed too.

Now, the devil inside me started running wild. I realised, there is no affidavit required and he was just trying to CON me, in fact trying to make his case strong so that I cave in and give him the required amount of bribe, which he had not yet quoted.

So this is what I decided to do:

I thought of getting it on my mobile camera and then decide what to do with it. I also thought to myself.. "Shall I give him the money and then get my work done?" But then I thought, what's the point?? Ok, I'd probably have to wait and maybe pay more for the lawyers fees... but wait, it's just not required in the first place. So I decided to go with my plan.

I waited there, stealthily, my mobile camera on shooting some random clips, whatever was going inside the Police Station... Still.. waiting and the cop is yet to call me to continue our conversation... But no luck... he is still busy with the other issue... I'm trying as much as possible to avoid being caught. i.e Hoping no-one notices I'm recording on my mobile camera.

Then the cop calls me...

I get up and start walking up to him and suddenly, there is another cop who comes from behind.

Cop 2: Give me your camera.

Me: Here...

Cop 2: Stop the recording.

Me: It's stopped

Cop 2: What did you shoot?

Me: Nothing as of now, just random shots...of people talking (I handed over my mobile to him. I admitted immediately what my objective was.)

Suddenly another guy joins him, there is another cop who comes. They start convincing Cop 2, that I was shooting for a while now... as if I'm the criminal now... I don't think there is a prohibition/criminal law against taking pictures / shooting inside the police station, however I didn't think it would be an issue as I co-operated and gave them my mobile.

Cop 2: Why were you shooting?

Me: Ask this guy (Cop1), I said.

Then I explained the situation and told him, he was asking for a bribe... blah blah and blah. By this time there was panic on Cop 1's face and at the same time he pretended to be angry. He was also trying to emotionally blackmail me by saying, this is what you did hah, talked sweetly and tried to nail me.. blah blah n blah.

Anyways, I showed him all the videos, deleted them even though I had not really got any evidence. While watching the video with my mobile in his hands, Cop 1's hands were literally shivering. Anyways, I don't blame him. He is not really the issue. Cop 2 was smart and knew they are in a soup and politely requested me to delete the video, not that it would matter.

First thing is first, the Cop misguided me, told me I'd need an affidavit for something I did not. We all know this was his pitch/ploy to get me to pay him the bribe. Secondly, he also openly asked me for bribe, however without actually quoting the amount. What I want to say is, I've been to a police station earlier, for a similar incident in college, where I lost my ID Card. Back then, proper procedures were followed and I didn't have to bribe anyone. So you know...

If this incident would not have happened, maybe I'd have caved in, or maybe not... I may have been wrong in actually doing what I did. But then again, maybe not. You guys tell me. At that point in time, that is what I did, for my convenience. I'm guilty of that. It may seem as though I actually tried to corner them using my freedom of speech, right to expression or maybe not.

Maybe I'd have spent unnecessary 500 bucks on an affidavit that was not needed. But the real question is how can we avoid paying them a bribe?? Now this incident may be restricted to that individual. I'm sure I may not or should not generalize by saying, the entire dept. is corrupt. That is completely an individual opinion. What he's doing maybe right or wrong. I'm not even arguing that point. I was able to do what I did, could have been because of many reasons which others may not be in a position to do. That is not really the question... The real question is.. the system, a system which we all keep blaming and do nothing about. The question is, is it his fault that he asks bribe? Or is it the system that is faulty. Doesn't increase their pay, doesn't care for their safety. They have to fight such a battle.. In the wake of 26/11 we all asked these questions. Is it their fault that all of them are not well off and don't have the luxury or comfort, which many have? Or is it just the peer pressure that all cops have to give in to? Does everyone who approach them encounters the same or they treat every case differently? Because I had the money and because he felt that I will give him the money? or he just did that to all...

Also, these are questions always asked and we all ending up saying the same thing, I used to as well. 'It's the system, it's the people, its the cops or for that matter it's the government.  I realized today it's no one but 'US.' Not all, but the ones who succumb to convenience and end up encouraging them to take bribe. So in a nutshell, here are a few things you should know:

1. Be aware of the law. If you don't know anything.. use Section 4 of RTI (Right to Information Act) and find out what is really the case. It's a little longwinded sometimes, but it can work.

2. If you can, refer to websites of your local police you will find a lot of guidance. I did that as an after thought.

3. Show some patience if you have the time, else you will always cave in.. Like I've before and I admit to being guilty of that.

4. Lastly, don't be afraid of the Police. They are here to "Protect and Serve" If possible do your research and then go ahead as per procedure.

Do let me know what you guys feel?



Athikur Rehman Ansari said...

Nice one Srini, we should all do this. Gre8 work dude.

Shraddha Sankhe said...

So you were vigilant and smart. I'm glad you wrote this.

Sadhogopal Ram said...

Well Srinivas, I feel you did the right thing depending on the situation which you were in at that time. I mean you did not had any other viable option to chose to.

Anyways, you ended the post with very apt solutions that if one is indeed aware of the law (depending upon his/her condition) and is not guilty then there's no way one should be afraid of cops, because they are here to protect and serve.

Pooja said...

Hey Srini,

I completely agree with you. Fight with the situation and not with people and your stand which you chose to take in this situation is truly commendable. And yes we all blame the system but we never do anything to change it we always voice our opinion but never act upon it when required mostly we do cave in for what ever reason we do. And for what ever reason that cop asked you for bribe, may be he thought you are someone who would have money or someone he could fool I think the real reason is we cave in their temptation and not oppose it which makes it easy for them to take an stand or ask for bribe so easy and being fearless.

srinistuff said...

Indeed. That is exactly my point. Glad you got it :)

srinistuff said...

Indeed, that is why I'm not talking about people.. but the issue and what we need to do as citizens. It's not about that one cop in particular, but all of us as citizens of the nation. :)

srinistuff said...

Yea... Thankfully, nothing else happened. I'm fortunate that this did not end in a bad mess.

I Paid a Bribe said...

Hey Srini

Greetings from I Paid a Bribe! is Janaagraha’s unique initiative to tackle corruption by harnessing the collective energy of citizens. You can report on the nature, number, pattern, types, location, frequency and values of actual corrupt acts on this website. Your reports will, perhaps for the first time, provide a snapshot of bribes occurring across your city. We will use them to argue for improving governance systems and procedures, tightening law enforcement and regulation and thereby reduce the scope for corruption in obtaining services from the government.

IPAB would like to congratulate you on not succumbing to the corrupt system. What makes your post special is that you acknowledge the deep-rooted nature of the problem and realise that targeting individuals will not help solve the larger problem at hand. The only way to tackle corruption is at the systemic level with procedural changes.

All your suggestions sit well with the philosophy of IPAB. We welcome you to take a look at our initiative to curb corruption. Follow us on fb and twitter to take this association forward (


srinistuff said...

Thanks for the information. This is a great initiative from your end.

Rajesh Punjabi said...

The system is the crux, because in today's time everybody, from top to bottom, has to pay a bribe to get a decent posting (or avoid a punishment posting). This is one way of getting back the "investment".
A similar thing happened to me when I had gone to apply for a driving licence a few days ago. Here the Inspector had a "donation receipt book" kept open in front of him for his local Durga Mata Pandal and was very conveniently asking people to contribute to it. He even coerced a Muslim applicant into paying by reminding him that he would have to come to them only to clear his test for his final licence.

Kudos to you for not succumbing to their tactics and I'm sure that if everyone is a little patient, they can get their work done without any such hassles.

srinistuff said...

Thanks Rajesh. Exactly... this thing has to stop... Not just about individuals... but 'WE' also have to stop by Governance... Self Governance is best...

nalini hebbar said...

I think we are naive to think it happens only in happens everywhere...the only difference is that it happens for trivial things here!
When the project is huge with lot of monies tied up in it, I would be putting my family's future in jeopardy if I start waging a war against corruption. This is what fuels corruptions.
Great job and great post...WAY TO GO!

srinistuff said...

Thanks Nalini. You are right.. it happens globally except globally they are called some Gates Watergate, this gate that gate... :P Also, at this level very few Govt, officials in developed countries are corrupt... If we can manage to eradicate that by being aware and fighting like this.. common man can benefit a lot... :)