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  • K 6:20 PM on July 15, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: Anna Hazare, Bribery, , , India, United States   

    Of Corruption, India, and My First Bribe 

    It was this Monday when I visited Rath mam with my friend Arvis. Rath mam had just returned from US after visiting both her children who are well settled in US working in IT companies. Somehow that day our discussion went on to what me and Arvis plan to do in the future after college. Mam was telling us why we should think about moving outside India for higher studies. She stated three important reasons why India is not yet the best place to lead life for those with some moral support system:

    • Corruption
    • Population explosion
    • Typical Indian mentality

    The third reason was not much comprehensible to me, and the second is pretty obvious. What caught my attention was the first one – corruption. She was mentioning how one can try to keep up with their values, but the system just won’t let that happen and someday one just has to break. She also warned us not to regret ever in life over the decisions we take now, and advised to be aware enough of the opportunities that lie ahead in the remaining 2 years of our undergraduate life and to take the full advantages of them.

    I have been inspired a lot by one of my seniors who has been offered fully funded PhD from 2 US universities and is leaving for the US soon leaving a major job offer from Amazon India. I have never given a serious thought to moving out of India but that discussion with Rath mam gave me a new insight to think over things. Also, perhaps it was just co-incidence just a day before meeting mam I tweeted:

    Agreed Neither does punctuality, honesty or integrity RT @rahulp_nair Being sincere in life doesn’t do good in this “ill” society of ours’!!

    And it was yesterday, in the morning, I was thinking about what happened of application for passport which I submitted last March in college (even this application got submitted only because there was this passport camp in college during the time, otherwise I might not have applied myself). I had heard about the difficulties in obtaining the passport from relatives and friends and how one has to bribe the policemen and officers involved to get it done. Anyhow, it was another co-incidence, that the same day my friend Mukul informed me that he got a call for my passport verification and I was informed through a call that I need to submit a few documents at Women’s Police Station, near Lohiya Nagar.

    In the evening, I visited my friend Agam who lives in Lohiya Nagar and asked him to accompany me to the Police Station. We met the person (a man in his 50’s, sitting outside the passport verification room in open air) whom I had talked with in the morning, and submitted the documents with a little informal chat. He had a copy of my application along with that of another NITC friend of mine who also lives in Ghaziabad. There was a little silence while he was keeping the documents and I was feeling a little nervous before asking to leave. Just then he asked for a bribe. I had only 140 bucks with me, and tried to give 40 to him (I had heard that 20-30 bucks was what policemen in our hostel were taking during the verification), he immediately snapped, “ye kya de rahe ho, isme to bas prasad aayega” (what are you trying to give, one can buy only prasad with this much money). I was taken aback and tried to give him the only other note I had, that of 100 bucks, on which he laughed a little said, “isme kya hoga, chalo jao yahaan se” (what will I do with this much, just get lost). I said, “isse zyada to hain nahi mere paas” (I don’t have more than this) and was a little relieved believing that he was OK with not taking bribe from me  as I didn’t have enough. We started to leave, and the person, who had occupied his chair by now, called out to us from behind, “bataye de raha hoon, kaam nahi hoga tumhara, kam se kam 500 rupaye lagenge” (I am telling you guys, your work will not be done, at least 500 rupees are required). I was shocked to hear this – how openly could he demand for bribe like this?


    Image via Wikipedia

    Anyway we left the area for the time, and discussed a little in the parking area. I borrowed 200 bucks from Agam, he kept another note of 500 hidden and we set out again thinking about trying to settle the matter with 300 bucks. On the way Agam kept telling me how it was impossible to get the verification done without bribing this guy, he may just send a false report canceling the whole application in the process, and how even if I apply again (costing me above 1000 bucks), my application may end up with this same person, who will still not to do it until bribed. He also had to bribe this same person for his passport verification a few months earlier. To my relief, the person agreed with 300 bucks after blabbering a little. On asking how much time it will take, he said many more steps are there and somebody will visit my house too later (and ask for bribe again – read below).

    On reading the above two incidents, I ask you – what choice do we (common, law-abiding citizens of our great country) have in situations like these? What Anna Hazare and team are trying to set up – Jan Lokpal – will that work to change the state of affairs even at this grass-root level? Staying here, either you forget about your morals/values or whatever conscience you have and become a part of the system, or end up nowhere fighting the system. Is the only way out is to leave this country because it will never change (not anytime soon anyway) hoping for a better future in foreign lands?

    UPDATE (2011-07-26):

    Got info from my father that some policeman visited my house for verification and again took a 1000 bucks (500 for himself another 500 for somebody he has to pass on the application to) this time promising that he will get the job done without hassles like the need to visit some police station. Listening to him, I had to wonder why it is not such a bad idea to legalize bribery (as I mention in response to Amarnath’s comment below), if the bribe takers can really get the job done fast.

    • Maxin B. John 7:10 PM on July 15, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Kartik ,

      I guess you are lucky. Most of my friends, who applied for passport in Bangalore had to pay at least Rs. 1500. Another funny fact. Most of the traffic policemen in Bangalore will be standing near to ATMs. If you don’t have enough money to pay bribes, they will show the way to the nearest ATM with a command : “Chal, leke aa”.. Just go and get the money which is rightfully mine 🙂

      • Kartik 10:15 PM on July 15, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        Yeah, I was lucky to have the passport camp being organized in our campus itself, eliminating the first possibility of paying bribe.

        And the ATM thing is really quite funny. 😀

    • Ashik 7:11 PM on July 15, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      What you should have done is gone back home and filed an RTI asking what was the delay and who was delaying it. Our nation has the proper legislations we have to use them that’s all. Anna Hazar and team are setting up a sham – who will watch those watchmen ?

      • Kartik 10:31 PM on July 15, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        The delay was understandable as the passport camp received about 1000 applications, and I was one of the last ones to get through. Additionally I could enquire once I reached back college. The main point is could I complain about that person and get through the verification process without hassles?

        And AFAIK, Jan Lokpal has a procedure for watching the watchmen also (surely longer than other bureaucrats).

    • Amarnath 8:45 AM on July 16, 2011 Permalink | Reply


      For my passport verification, I had to pay the guy who came to college 50 bucks. Seems like he has to put in some amount for taking xerox and stuff like that and he will get it reimbursed later after he send the verification report. As, he has to do around 2000-3000 verification in a period of 2 weeks, it is true that the guy can not afford to put in money from his pocket for the xerox etc. I think, he made his point clear why he is asking for 50 bucks.

      And thankfully, the constable who came at home to take my address verification was a decent guy and said that he won’t take anything from students like us who study in well off national institutes. It was just because of my father telling him that I study in REC (NITC) he did not ask for money. He frankly said that normally he takes around 100 for verification.
      Corruption is just like a disease. It is upto one to decide whether to fall pray of it.

      • Kartik 3:51 PM on July 16, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks Amarnath for reminding me the reason they mentioned for asking for money in the hostel.

        The constable must have been good surely to not take bribe in few cases, but does that mean bribing should be made legal?

        I don’t agree with you that one can decide not to fall prey to it, not for those who are openly asked to give the bribe.

    • Joel Elias 11:58 AM on July 16, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Why don’t you inform tehelka or some group like that? they will atleast try to show this in the open.

      • Kartik 3:42 PM on July 16, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        Incidents like this are so common in our country, making an issue of this will do no good. My purpose to post this in public was to invoke a discussion and try to get some answers which we all have.

    • Dhan 11:53 PM on July 28, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Have never had trouble with bribes,in the scales you have written about, so far (touch wood).Applied for my passport through the Calicut passport office.Paid 50 bucks to the guy who came for verification in the hostel(Said he needed it for photocopying documents :D) and 0 to the guy who came to my house in Chennai.

      • Kartik 9:54 AM on July 29, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        Lot of people have had different experiences. Some paid even more than me (as mentioned in the first comment).

        And now, as you are In the North, you might witness it more often. 😉

    • Girish 11:27 PM on August 18, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Had applied at the calicut passport office like dhan paid around 20 bucks for the verification…….you have certainly made your point……….but truly a lokpal bill is not the answer ….legal reforms ..police reforms are more important…..wat this bill would do is create another body and do you think only altruist wud be part of the lokpal………………if this bill is passed it will certainly create a wrong precedent there will be a day in the future where “anna dubare” would fast to make a “LOKPALO KA LOKPAL”

      • Kartik 1:26 AM on August 19, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        If you have read the differences between Lokpal and Jan Lokpal, you know that there are effective methods to curb the corrupt within the Jan Lokpal system.

        Maybe Jan Lokpal is not the answer, but what government is proposing – Lokpal – will not be of any use either. Singapore has a similar system too which according to many is quite effective there.

    • Noor Manseel Mohammed 11:41 AM on October 23, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Hey Kartik,

      I accidentally came upon your blog, and happened to read about the bribe regarding passport. I thought I would share my experience, which is wonderfully at the opposite pole from your’s. Just felt like sharing that there are some exceptional things too, happening here in India.

      I was studying at Model Engineering College, Kochi when the passport verification came, while my native place is in Kasaragod. So I had to verify at both the police stations, ie home town Kasaragod and in Kochi as well.

      From Kasaragod, the policeman called me to the town station. I went alone, everything was so smooth and normal, other than I had to wait an hour, which inturn was my mistake, as I reached late from the time he asked me to reach. I didn’t have to pay any single penny as bribe.

      Even admirable thing happened at Kochi. One policeman came to college asking whether I am student there. Silly college office staffs told him there is no such a student in the college. I think there was some mistake in the year of admission, I mentioned in the passport application. But the policeman did not leave immediately giving negative report, but rather hung around the college and enquired some more ppl and finally found me out ! He chided me for not giving correct information.

      Then he asked me for original school certificate, which was in my rented house, a bit away from the college. I went house in bike, followed by the policeman in his bike. I was damn sure I will have to give bribe, since there is no one in the home, other than me and him. So he can openly demand bribe without fearing anything. Me a young student as well. But he was extra ordinarily elegant, polite, but very firm and checked my certificates, and left without demanding a single rupee. He even gave me a small class regarding the location of the police station(I didn’t know where was it), how and whom to contact in case of any issues etc etc. That day, I really felt proud of him, Kerala police, as well as the whole country.

      Really wish I met him again to thank him, as I was surprised that day that I couldn’t talk to him.

      P. S : And yeah, passport reached immediately within few days 🙂

      • Kartik 2:20 PM on October 23, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks for sharing your story Noor. 🙂

        After reading your comment and many others’ I have come to the conclusion that there are both type of policemen everywhere as there are both types of people everywhere – good and bad.

        We need not caste a stereotypes but it does help to be able to differentiate between them. But it should not be forgotten that corruption does exist deeply rooted in our country.

  • K 10:11 PM on July 14, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , , ,   

    Remove Orphaned Actions in Drupal 7 

    I recently discovered this weird behaviour by drush when I disabled Comment module in Drupal 7 – drush was giving the following warning whenever I tried enabling/disabling any module:

    WD actions: 3 orphaned actions (comment_publish_action, comment_save_action, comment_unpublish_action) exist in the actions table. Remove orphaned actions

    After some scrounging on drupal.org (where most solutions were meant for Drupal 6), I found the solution at http://blog.devkinetic.com/node/9 Just execute the following once:

    drush php-eval "actions_synchronize(actions_list(), TRUE);"
    • Max Nylin 11:53 AM on August 17, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you for spreading this, just what I was looking for.

      / Max

    • Kyle 8:15 PM on August 19, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Yea, this bites me every once in a while, and going to the “orphans” URL doesn’t always work. This works great! Thanks.

      • Kartik 8:48 PM on August 19, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        That ‘orphans’ url method is meant for Drupal 6 only.

        Thanks for your comment. 🙂

  • K 12:07 AM on July 11, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , Google, , Social media, Social network, Twitter   

    Disconnect – An Experiment 

    This will be short.

    A small announcement:

    I will be out of touch for about a week on the Internet. Disconnected on all social networks (including twitter) and off-line on chats (including GMail chat) and unavailable on SMS. I have already disabled all email and SMS notifications from the social networks. This is just for the sake of experimenting to see if I can still live without social media, so don’t get weird ideas about this.

    I have decided to introspect, give myself a break, finish that huge list of tasks in my to-do list and see how it goes without all those distractions. I have been disconnected earlier (those power cuts, and infrastructure failures) but those times I was desperate to connect, this time it’s different – it’s intentional. May be I will write about my experience later.

    For the case of crisis, I will still be available on phone and email (which I pledge to check no more than once in a day) for those who can already connect with me through these media.

    Signing off

    • Kartik
  • K 12:00 AM on July 9, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , Joomla, , , MySQL, , ,   

    Easiest Way to Setup a Web Development Environment on Ubuntu-based Distros 

    Did you know how easy it is to get a basic web development environment on your Ubuntu-based Linux distribution? Guess what, it just takes 2 commands on the Terminal:

    sudo apt-get install tasksel

    This will install a small utility which lets you install a lot packages grouped together as software collections.

    sudo tasksel

    Launch tasksel and select ‘LAMP server‘ by pressing the SPACE key, press ENTER when you are done (see attached screenshot). It will take some time for the required packages to download and install. Near the end of setup, the installer will ask you to create a password for MySQL‘s root user.

    Select LAMP Server among the choices in Tasksel

    Select LAMP Server among the choices in Tasksel

    After the installer finishes, you have the environment ready. Head over to your favorite browser and open http://localhost If everything went fine, the page will say It works!

    It works!

    It works!

    Now you can start creating websites by putting your html, php, etc. files under /var/www directory or just choose to go with CMS solutions like Drupal, WordPress or Joomla.

    The author also recommends to install phpmyadmin package if you happen to work with MySQL databases.

    An edited version of this article first appeared at http://www.muktware.com/articles/08/2011/1348

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