An ordinary weekday was rent with the news of a new controversy – one Mahesh Kumar, already a part of the staff of Railway Board, was caught paying 90 lakhs as bribe to get the post of Member (Electrical). The post was going to be vacated soon since the current incumbent was on the verge of retirement. This role controls thousands of crores of railway spend. Since that post was a little iffy, a few crores less guaranteed him the post of Member (Staffing).
Imagine if a man has this kind of money to pay as a bribe – he already has so much money (or access to so much). Did he really lack anything?
Of the 1.2 billion people in this country, how many see one crore in their careers? How many see even a lakh in their lives? How many study hard to be equipped with some certificate to get a job? How many still struggle to get a job? (If the participants of KBC are any indication, a large number of Indians are underemployed – that is, their qualifications are much higher than the job they are doing. Post-graduates selling vegetables?!)
Where did Mahesh Kumar get that money from?
Surely it wasn’t all hard work – any number of us are working hard and we don’t see even one-tenth of just the bribe money in our lifetimes.
Mahesh Kumar has been described as “bright” by seniors and juniors. There are tons of “bright” people in this country struggling to get a decent job.
Obviously he was brighter than they thought – but in an area that maybe not all knew he was operating in – corruption. In fact, corruption seems to have been the primary career that he was pursuing. Some may have suspected (considering the rich haul that the authorities got from his house – his lifestyle surely belied his true profession). Even his latest move was to grow in his chosen career path – being in control of the kind of money that his coveted position has would probably mean that he would “earn” back a minimum of 10 times his “investment” within a year.
But the great question is: Is Mahesh Kumar an exception? Are his greed and ambition beyond normal?
Almost every government post is allegedly on sale. Starting from a posting/job at octroi nakas to the highest posts in the corridors of power, allegedly, every single government job can be bought – whether or not a person is qualified for the job. If you grease enough palms and if they are the right palms, you can spend the rest of your lifetime getting your palm greased. Thus is the cycle of corruption perpetuated.
Is there any way to break out of this vicious grasp for the rest of us? With more and more people greasing palms in the hope to make good once they have the authority to, there is little or no escaping – unless there is political will and strong laws.
Ideally appointments should be made based on defined criteria and tests. There should be a board for selection (and not a single person’s decision). There should be appraisals (as in the private sector). There should be succession planning so that there is transparency.
But this seems to be a long – very long – way off since it is not even a notion in the heads of those counting their ill-gotten monies. Until then, be ready to part with your money, honey.
Image Source: IANS