shocking and true

It began like any morning. It should have been a quiet Sunday but that was not to be. I sat with my morning cup of tea hoping to catch up on some innocuous reading. I picked up the latest issue of a well known magazine and flicked through its pages when my eye caught a picture that almost looked like the project why creche minus children. The title: Ghost Lullabies and the bye line: Babus milk a national creche scheme for Rs 350 cr on false claims, sent a chill down my spine. Thr story was that of another scam and by now one would think that one has become inured to the words like scam, fraud, swindle living in a land where corruption has almost acquired a respectability or has been accepted as a belief system.

Is that not what I so brazenly stated during the recent conclave on corruption where I was a guest speaker. Then why did my blood boil tis morning as I read about yet another scam? I guess it was because it concerned children, the tiniest ones, the poorest ones, those who had no voice. The Rajiv Gandhi National Creche Scheme was for the children of working women in the unorganised sector, for the little children who are often left unattended and in unsafe conditions, the ones for whom the pwhy creche was started.

I still cannot forget the sight of the little toddler whose mother use to tie him on a charpoy and then placed in front of her home every morning as she left for work. When she returned she would untie him and smother him with kisses. This was probably in the very first few months of our existence and the woman's home was located in the street where we worked. I was baffled by the contradiction between the act of tying up a child and then later cocooning him with love. Though we were very new in the area and had not yet gained the trust of the people, I could not stop myself from asking the mother why she did that. The answer was irrefutable: she could not take him to work (she cleaned people's homes) and did not want to leave him alone inside her home. By placing him on a charpoy outside she ensured that he was visible to others and hence protected, and by tying him up she ensured that he remained safe and did not wander away. You see she loved him too much to have anything untoward happen to him. Needless to say the next day we opened a creche in the tiny veranda of our office and he was the first child enrolled.

The Rajiv Gandhi National Creche scheme was set up for such children and to read that 350 crores have been swindled by bureaucrats and others from such a scheme makes my blood boil and run cold at the same time: boil because the money could and should have been spent on innocent children and run cold because is seems that nothing is sacred for racketeers. yes corruption has become a way of life, a socially acceptable belief system.

The question I ask today is when will it all stop? The question I ask today is how will it all stop? What is even more shocking is the answer given by one of the persons responsible for the programme: “I agree that mistakes may have taken place at some point, but the fact is, we’re human beings. None of the mistakes were malafide and intentional.” I am left speechless. How can falsified documents, fake audits and balance sheets can be bonafide and unintentional. No Sir, you are not just human beings, you are worst than the most dangerous predator!