Corrupting the Corruptible

28112009414-1Early morning cycling is great fun. While it burns the kilos ( at least I hope it does), it also gives me the chance to scream my guts out at errant drivers, BPO cars, pedestrians, transport vehicles, autowallahs and motorcycle riders. No one is spared as I take on the role of the holier than thou vigilante spewing venom on every mistake I see people make.

Funnily, thats what got me thinking. How often have we as drivers,pedestrians or observers mocked a traffic cop as he accepts a bribe. We laugh, despair even at the level of corruption society has reached. We are not afraid even to take the role of a citizen journalist by clicking a photo through our mobile for Facebook and Twitter sharing.. But here’s the thing, as general public I am now of the firm belief we like breaking rules. Sorry.. make that Love breaking rules.

Mornings 7 am in Powai are something like this..

No helmets, overtaking from left are routine, no concept of right of way especially by autowallahs who compete with cyclists ( why oh why! ) , pedestrians routinely crossing while talking talking on mobile, double parking by tempos and trucks no less , stopping vehicles along turns, and horror of horrors : a vehicle driving on the other side of the divider because he has 2 cars in front of him-DANGEROUS ALL THE WAY. Hell, if your building has one way traffic, cross your hearts and say we all follow the one way designated route post 1 am. The very fact that there exists the remotest possibility of 1 car coming along at that time, perhaps to go the airport is an Acceptable risk.

These people breaking rules are across strata- students, drivers, residents , senior execs and therein lies my point. In the absence of policing , all are more than happy to break the rules. The fear of being caught does not exist. People or citizens follow rules after 9 am because they fear being caught, not because they respect rules. The other day in far off Tadoba, a mother from a city asked her kid to pee behind a wall when the bathroom was barely10 feet away. Of course I admonished her, and of course she felt no remorse. So, if

rules are meant to be broken, what is giving 50 rupees to Pandu Havaldaar? Admit it, how many of us have ever submitted our license even if it were for breaking a light in emergency or parking in a no parking road. Few. I admit I have never done that. And yet we mock the Havaldaar!

Put these very same people in Singapore or Dubai or any world city and watch them follow rules. Not because they respect rules.. But Because they know they will be caught. Fear clearly wins here.

Fact is, it suits us really. Break a rule and go scot free. So we do it when we break a signal. Few do it because they cannot wait for getting a paper from the government, others do it for a reservation seat in the train, some pay thousands to get a business of lakhs, and some lakhs for a business in crores… Oh, suddenly gotten all self righteous have we? Because it is OK at the grass root level but not at the top level. because we can never afford the crores. There my friends lies the problem. If a corruptible system is acceptable at the micro level, surely it is at the macro one too. Ethics and morals remain the same as long as no one gets hurt right ? So how does one have the right to point fingers at the corrupt system when he or she himself succumbs to it at the level that he operates at?

Isn’t it then merely a case of corrupting the corruptible? We like to break rules given the lack of time or simply because we know we wont be punished. Excess of population means we do not like to follow the rule to a T, and therefore are ready to break them. The system thanks to our very own doing is begging to be corrupted. No longer can we see ourselves as the victim, because we are playing an active part in breaking it too, and willingly.

I am no Anna or Khairnar to bring about a mass movement. I merely rant and let the vigilante in me loose on the people I encounter on my cycling trips. Thats the least we can do isn’t it. Follow the rules ourselves, so we earn the right to admonish those who don’t. At least we are being true to ourselves then.

Fact is when I’m chauffeured around in my car, I sleep till I reach home only to be woken intermittently by a bad song on radio or too much honking when in excess traffic.


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