Please admit my child

Take this said the desperate mother as she held out a 5oo Rs note but please admit my child. This incident occurred last week at the women centre. The women in question was a newly arrived migrant from Bihar. The child, a little five year old, watched in silence.

D, the coordinator, tried to explain to the lady that the classes were full, that there were long waiting lists and that there was no way he could do anything. She kept on insisting ad she waived her 5oo rs note. Someone must have told her that in Delhi, almost everything could be obtained with the right amount of money and five hundred rupees were definitely a handsome amount. D gently tried to explain to her that we did not function this way but she was adamant. I guess in her simple mind she could not fathom why this door was not opening, dis he not possess the magic key.

She did finally leave. D had promised that he would look into the matter and see what could be done. Perhaps in a month or two when new admissions would be considered. She put her note away still not quite comprehending why it had not done the trick.

Corruption is high on her minds these days with the Satyam Scandal. This is just another side of the same coin: the nameless and faceless corruption that permeates every aspect of our lives. It is ingrained in the very fabric of our society. It has become part and parcel of our lives. Even the simple migrant from Bihar was well honed in the ways of our world.

So how does one address the situation..

If we introspect a little, can anyone of us say with utmost honesty that we have never bent the rules? I guess not. It does not have to be money it can also be the phone call to the well placed friend, the office car used for personal work and so on. Have we not all at some time or the other paid a small bribe to avoid a fine, or to break a queue or to accelerate some paper work. Someone once told me that this was not corruption by facilitation money. I wonder what the difference really is.

The problem is that if you decide to take the long road home, the experience is nothing short of harrowing as we experienced some time back. Many of us quip that the few bills paid are well worth the wear and tear on nerves and the times wasted. They may have a point but it is my belief that corruption can only be addressed if we decide to walk the laond road, however arduous.

Can you blame the woman for brandishing her precious five hundred rupees in the hope of getting her child into what she was told was a good school. She was simply playing by the rules. It is time we took the first step towards defining new rules.