Cheap Corruption

I got down from the bus at Majestic. The cool breeze made the overcrowded platform much tolerable. I was thinking about something else, when I heard somebody yell at me - "Surpass"! What? What did he just say? Was he really talking to me? What does 'surpass' actually mean? May be I am dreaming, I said to myself. No, I heard 4 more people tell the same thing to me within 20 seconds. 5 more persons and 30 more seconds later, I realized what they were asking, when a man in faded jeans and a fake Nike cap asked me again. Now, it was clear. It meant "Sir, pass?". Within a minute, 10 people had asked me if I had a daily bus pass, so that they can get it from me and save some cost!

I think it was not too long ago BTS came up with daily passes. It was very useful for people who would take 3-4 buses in a day. And just a couple of weeks back, I had seen a slogan inside a BTS bus that said something like this "Dont share your passes with others. Its a crime. It amounts to cheating with the BTS". And now I realized how rampant this 'crime' was! Which made me think about what makes people corrupt - and corrupt to this level. I can understand two kinds of corruption. First is extreme need, when you need something very badly and you cannot afford it. Second is extreme greed, people tend to become corrupt when the returns are very high and they can make tons of money. But, the kind of corruption I witnessed belonged to neither of these categories. None of those ten people who asked me for a pass looked like very poor who could not afford a bus ticket (anybody who can afford a fake Nike cap can surely afford a bus ticket!) and a ticket would cost less than 10 rupees, and a desperate attempt to save that money, standing there and confronting lots of people like me was miserable.

The same I have seen with auto drivers. I am okay with auto drivers who look at you with pity and shake their heads, when you ask them if they can come to Jayanagar. I am even okay with auto drivers who demand double the fare upfront. They may be dishonest and irritating, but they are at least honest about their dishonesty. But, if someone deliberately miscalculates the amount multiplied by 1.5, I get irritated. He is trying to be dishonest very subtly (he is not even being honest about his dishonesty ;)) and he is insulting my basic arithmetic skills. Its unacceptable!

And the bus conductors! If the ticket costs 8 rupees, I feel like hitting them when they tear out the ticket, turn it, take out the pen from their pocket (or worse, on top of their ear!) and scribble some illegible numeric notation to represent the change to be given (There is no other rationale for not giving the change instantly. It takes very less time to just give the change than this complicated procedure) And I love to see the disappointed look on their faces when they realize that I have not forgotten to get my change. Some are dishonest to such an extent, that they give 1 rupee change and act as if they thought they had given 2 rupees change. Disgusting!

In all these cases, its not the money that makes me very sick. Its the attitude that I hate so much. Excluding the extreme-need and extreme-greed corruption, is there any other country other than ours that has this levels of 'cheap corruption'? Does this 'cheap corruption' irritate you as much?


  1. Krupa said...
    I totally agree iwth you.
    Autowallahs resort to day light robbery.
    I think its not just about saving money...its about beating the system.I have noticed that people who travel without paying the fare are very proud of that fact!

    We love short cuts.And we dont respect others.We dont think twice about barging in on a long queue...or paying our way out of mess.
    we blame people who take bribes..but I feel that people who pay bribes are just as guilty!
    astrocrazy2005 said...
    i had the same experinces in hyd wid auto wallahs and buses...
    parijata said...
    Oh, yeah, this kind of cheap corruption irritates me to no end!

    And I have seen this kind of selling of bus passes in the US too. Greed does not know nationalities.

    About conductors, there is another reason why conductors write that illegible numerical note behind your ticket. You see, if you ask for your change when you get off the bus, he takes the ticket and gives you the change, but does not give the ticket back. Another customer gets your ticket. I am not the fighting sort, but had once fought for getting my ticket back, to no avail!
    Bit Hawk said...
    I think people who pay bribes are not as guilty. Because they are not strong enough to fight/change the system. If I dont bribe an RTO officer to get a DL (which I should have got easily, if the system was not corrupt) I will end up going there at least 2-3 days, wasting my leaves, standing there for hours. And believe me, I will not be having satisfaction of fighting off corruption, instead I will feel lousy for getting treated this way because of my 'honesty'!

    Thanks for visiting my blog!

    I did not know about bus passes in US. I am surprised!
    The Jackal said...
    agreed that this deadly & sad malaise is so rampant that any attempt to change would mean effecting a change in the entire population of this huge land .... again, mebbe its down to our cultural upbringing - the closeted approach & the selfish "might is right" attitude that prevails in most strata of society .... the thing is economic liberalization has merely pushed people into upper income brackets, but the underlying culture of extracting the maximum by exerting the minimum even if the means are unscrupulous has not changed .... so even middle class people indulge in it .... it ticks me off too, but I guess, it can't be helped!
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