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“Snubbed by cops…” a familiar Indian tale

Updated: Apr 1, 2020

Friday’s paper had an article talking about a father who lost his savings to a fraud. The article describes how he didn’t let go of the fraudsters, traced them, and finally got them arrested. He still awaits getting his life savings of about ₹ 2 million. His photo and name are published.

Pardon me if I don’t reach for a box of tissues. I have little sympathy for the man.

Paying bribes is somewhat an accepted way of life for many. I don’t think the man thought twice about parting with his money to secure the ‘promised’ medical seat for his daughter. I am a father of a daughter. I wonder what lesson my daughter would learn from me, if I behaved in a similar fashion? Would she think giving or accepting bribes is acceptable?

I paused to think about this man’s daughter. Why didn’t she get a medical seat on merit? There are many possible answers – she probably didn’t qualify, or she didn’t get the college she wanted are two of the ready explanations that come to mind. So if she didn’t qualify, is it safe to assume she isn’t bright enough? Would she pass her medical exams or would daddy dearest try to bail her out with another round of bribes?

What if she did become a doctor, would she then think its OK to accept a bribe to treat a patient? After all she would feel obligated to repay the ₹ 2 million her father paid to get her into med school. What choices would she make in accepting the bribe?

Would it be preferential treatment to a rich paying customer to get preferential treatment over a poor person in dire need of medical attention?

What sort of human being would she become?

I am particularly close to doctors these days. For personal reasons I have had to visit a few for an ailing relative. I have closely observed doctors of all ages and experiences. There are the young ones eager to learn with a lot of decency in their approach to all who interact with them. They give me hope. There are senior doctors for whom patients are a side of meat. They are as polite as a butcher and as sensitive as stone. And yet they are truly remarkable in the work they do. I sympathise with them because I know how tiresome it would be to interact with a deluge of people every day. I think even if they sound clinical and cold, they are methodical and very good at what they do.

And then there are the ones I want to put on a pedestal and worship. These are experienced doctors with hearts of gold. They have the patience to answer every inane query the patient or relatives have. They have a smile that warms the room and they make you believe in the power of science and God.

So I wonder if these doctors got in on merit or did their fathers pay bribes? Did they graduate because they passed their tests or did they pay their way through to the degree? Would I trust a near and dear one to the care of a person who had perhaps never legitimately qualified to become a doctor?

It’s worth looking at the bribe paying father. Isn’t he aware that even paying a bribe is a punishable crime? What about the police? Are they not aware of this law? And the media, what about them? Why do they need to eulogise a person who has tried to beat the system with money?

I want to share a more positive experience though. I needed to get my driver’s license renewed. There were some formalities I had to complete before hand and I had a friend pay the renewal fees. On my appointed day, I was in and out of the Regional Transport Office in about an hour. The work was done methodically, courteously and without a single rupee being paid in bribe to anyone.

This is the India I want my daughter to see. I don’t want her to believe that money will set a wrong right nor will money buy her everything she wants. To the doctors who give people hope and to public servants who work honestly, I salute you…

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