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Law and outlaw

Law and outlaw
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Why is it that Indians who seem to enjoy violation of the law in their own country turn law-abiding the moment they land in another country? How is...

Why is it that Indians who seem to enjoy violation of the law in their own country turn law-abiding the moment they land in another country? How is it that Indians are more disciplined in America than they are in their homeland? What happens to them in a matter of hours of their journey from one hemisphere to another? It is a miracle. Everything in India is in disarray. Everybody travels that extra mile to be undisciplined. We have a right to be corrupt. We have all the reasons in the world to be more permissive. We have any number of examples of our elders taking logic for overdrive and live by exceptions and not by rules. And, after all, this is India, a comfortable, flexible, and unscrupulously free for all.
How is it that they can fine-tune their attitude to the utmost perfection when they land in America? Here is an example. We were driving the other day with a friend of mine, his wife and a child, on our way to Burney in California. Suddenly my friend, who was at the wheel, became tense and asked us to stay calm and not to move. Before we could wonder what it was all about, he stopped the car and a cop appeared at the window. My friend's hands were on the wheel. The cop very courteously greeted him "Good morning sir, you are exceeding the speed limit, going at 87 miles per hour''. My friend did not respond, nor contest his statement. The cop asked for his driving license, identity and insurance. He proceeded to his car, perhaps to verify the documents, and came back in five minutes. He gave my friend a chit and said very courteously "Thank you sir, you have a baby in the car. Drive carefully''. Our car moved. That's all. What happened? The cop found my friend guilty. My friend calmly accepted his verdict. He gave a chit, imposing a fine. "But why did you not question his decision?'' I asked. My friend smiled. "The cop had all the evidence before he stopped us. There is nothing we can do except to oblige. Or contest in a court of law.'' The dearest thing a person cannot afford in America is time. Hence, he will pay the fine and close the episode. How convenient? Here is an offender. Here is the law. And here is an Indian who respectfully accepted his crime and would willingly pay the fine. Remember our parliamentarian pulling his gun at the toll gate man for asking his identity. What is very sensitive about it? Why is it that Indians do not respond the way they do in America? For one thing, they know that the law of their land (it is a cop here) is corrupt. They can always purchase the law for a price. And if he is a politician, he can bully the system and subvert it. Here is an instance when somebody tried to do that in America. Sometime back, a cop stopped a girl for a traffic violation. The girl responded in a typical Indian style: "Do you know who I am?'' The cop coolly replied "Before you enlighten me, madam, let me see your driving license, insurance please'' After he did and convinced that everything was in order, he asked her: "Pray, tell me who you are''. She said: "I am the daughter of President George W.Bush''. The cop, with a smile, said: "All the more reason why you should abide by the law. Now that you are what you are, I am increasing the fine by another 50 dollars. Take care and proceed carefully''. His photograph and the brave encounter appeared on CNN and all the papers in the country. `Yet another incident which created history. Sam Walton was a grocer in Arkansas before he started the world famous network of departmental stores called 'Walmart'. He was easily the richest man in the world in his time. His daughter, Alice Walton, the second richest woman in the world, celebrated her 62nd birthday on 7th October, 2011. While returning home, she was driving the car in an intoxicated condition on Texas Highway near Weatherford. She was stopped by a woman patrol cop. Enraged, she shouted at the cop: "I am Alice Walton, bitch!''. She was promptly arrested and kept in jail, on her birthday! The police force in America is an independent body answerable only to the Defence ministry, and hence it discharges its duties unmindful of power centres, unlike the CBI in India. Who can dare to do this in India? Who could dare to report the unruly behaviour of a Cabinet minister's son, a film hero who stopped two law-abiding citizens in the middle of the road at Hyderabad obstructing the morning traffic until his henchmen arrived and beat them black and blue? Nobody reported the crime, including the victims. Why? They knew pretty well that nothing would happen in this country. Even if some misguided 'honest' cop tries to go out of the way to report the incident and register a case, what will happen to him? He will be shouted down by his immediate superiors. He will be made to eat his words. Or the minister's party men will go berserk, crying 'foul'. The poor cop would be transferred to a remote place, a punishment for his indiscretion, price to pay for his honesty. His daughter's academic year would be disturbed. His sick wife's medical treatment would be in jeopardy. More importantly, the juicy monetary returns he is grabbing at Hyderabad will eventually stop. Why bother? Caesar's wife is above suspicion. It is the 'attitude' that makes all the difference; an attitude shaped by a vigilant system and the law and order with zero tolerance. In a country where we hear about scams each day, rapes by our lawmakers, murders by parliamentarians, people's representatives going to jails regularly, you cannot expect the common man not to enjoy the privilege of being corrupt. He cannot have the luxury of being honest. Abiding by the law of the land is the necessary condition for every Indian in America as it hurts his career, his existence in the foreign land and, importantly, his fortune. But breaking the law is a way of life in India. Honesty is a weapon. It shoots the messenger also if the system does not stand by him. That is exactly what is happening in India. We hear everybody talking about this latent trait called 'honesty' in India. But it is a very scarce commodity in our day-to-day life. And hence our country. (gmrsivani@gmail.com)
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