In pursuit of filthy lucre
When the nation falls under a general corruption, both as to morals and principles, and with such a speed it spreads among people of all classes, it...
I have often wondered how and why a high official often lured by the rhetoric of a golden fee parts with honour and wisdom at the sight of filthy lucre.
When the nation falls under a general corruption, both as to morals and principles, and with such a speed it spreads among people of all classes, it leads to apprehensions of heavy judgments from Heaven, it is said.
It is amazing, though devastating to find that notwithstanding the most awful warning to evil doers, this land does nevertheless bring forth such a rank crop of sin and wickedness and of corruption every time there is a step toward reform.
The catch of new notes seized and the stash of the old currencies recovered from the vehicles and homes of 'well-meaning' individuals should not come as a surprise to us as we, as a nation, have not inherited a clean life-style any way.
Lawyers, bankers, politicians, bureaucrats, men of high positions and respectable designations and if all these are to be punished will there be sufficient room in our jails?
During the British occupation of Bombay between 1661-1947, it was said officially and chronicled systematically by writers, that "temptation indeed was a dangerous rock on which many a bark of responsible and highly placed local officials, including Governors, Members of Council, Judges, Magistrates, Police Commissioners, Custom Officers, Divisional Commissioners and public men holding trustworthy positions, including Editors, had in the past, clashed and foundered. “
Their debased mentality was attributed to the age then. How about now? The first Duke of Buckingham (1592-1628), Lord High Admiral, according to Kaye, author of "Administration of the East India Company (1853), extorted 10,000 pounds from the Company as douceur to obtain "his sanction to the dispatch of a fleet to India.”
Let me explain this word douceur a bit. In French, douceur means "pleasantness," and it is often used in phrases such as "douceur de vivre" ("the pleasure of life"). The word derives from the Latin adjective dulcis, meaning "sweet."
A douceur is a gift or payment - sometimes, but not necessarily, considered a bribe - provided by someone to enhance or "sweeten" a deal. In the United Kingdom, "douceur" specifically refers to a tax benefit given to someone who sells a historical artifact to a public collection.
King James I reportedly remarked to the then Spanish Ambassador "if I were begin to punish those who take bribes, I should not have a single subject left."
The History of British India is an interesting book to read. It is known to expose the corruption and bribery in the Government and the Company not only candidly but also lucidly.
The book says "when the East India Company was about to send an expedition these parts (Bombay) in the beginning of the 19th century and the employment of the services of Sir Edward Mechelbourne, a man whose mind was formed to the most correct principles of uprightness and integrity, was suggested to them,
the Company would not have him, not on the score of incompetence or untrustworthiness but because he was a bird of a different feather and a gentleman, and therefore incapable of flocking together with the majority of the English factors in the Company's aviary at Surat.”
The Directors of the Company were honest enough to candidly give out that their principle was "not to employ any gentleman in any place of charge as they wanted to sort out their business with men of their own quality. This gave birth to the proverb that the Company was known by
the man it kept and not the vice versa.
Oh my, some of the bankers who joined hands with men of ill-gotten wealth of today and emptied their vaults into the coffers of their friends, only to prolong the short term gain to the long term pain of the nation, are really no different.
Look at the Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu. Should he ever stoop so low as to have displayed such an unbureaucratic and avaricious mind? Is not the story of this official's close friend, the TTD Board Member (an ex now, of course), similarly scandalous and derogatory?
How and why such people attain their eminence is not a wonder for all of us as we know that it is the Company that keeps them in its folds to perpetuate its own interest. If only the Chief Ministers who nurtured them were to be clean, would it have ever occurred to us, that such a thing is possible at all!
Looking at the loathsome affairs, we keep wondering whether among our population there are gentlemen and there are factors, but the gentlemen are not the factors and the factors are not gentlemen. How many law-fearing Indians are there in this country? Perhaps they are confined only to the commoners, the poor and the denied of the land.
Avarice is the primary cause of all the frailties that the flesh of the society's rich is heir to and it is in vain to find grand views of human kind of men refined perhaps among them.
Providence has endowed man with the capacity either to rise to a God or sink to a devil. He has been provided with the wings of volition to choose either ascending and going ahead or straying and sliding down into the mire.
The English used to blame the intemperate climate of the Indian Peninsula, redolent of contaminated atmosphere, as responsible for their downfall and for incapacitating them from holding out till their retirement with the crown of honour shining on their head.
Do we have to blame thus even now? Our own country, our freedom and our life and yet these shameful occurrences? From printing presses to the homes of the powerful, the non-stop journey of our notes tells us a remarkable tale of the DTH (direct to home service) that the great nation offers to the chosen few while the majority is on its feet languishing in front of the money-less ATMS and the cashless banks staring into the face of the clueless officials.
The Prime Minister's 50-day deadline is just about to complete. The travails of the people may not yet be over but the situation might ease. But, what the nation witnessed in one of its biggest upheavals would be long remembered if not cherished.
Remembered it would be, that whatever is the strength of the intent, the system could destroy all of it and suck away all nobility out of it, to ensure sustenance and prevalence of corruption. Alas, the percentage of population that has come to the fore is the quintessence of the society! This is our reality. The nation has to fight it out apart from demonetisation blues.
Also remember that when most of us try to climb the ladder of success rung by rung, there are some who climb it "wrong by wrong." Well, easy come is always easy go too.
There will always be this class amongst us for whom when their future gives some concern, chance gives them the key of opportunity too and they often open the doors of comparative prosperity.
We know that the entire flock does not get caught, but the news that a part of this percentage people are in the dock always brings cheer to the commoner denied of an opportunity to be dishonest.
What can money do?
The poet Pope answers:
"Trade it may help, society extend,
But lures the pirate, and corrupts the friend;
It raises armies in a nation's aid,
But bribes a senate, and the land's betrayed."