This post was inspired by various real incidents which happened in my life. Being an ‘Aam Admi’, I also had to be a part of numerous documentation processes, natural obligations of being a citizen of
! Have seen a lot of movies in which corruption has been portrayed as a social villain (or villainess – gender equality should be there in everything!), I always wondered why this evil character is over exaggerated in movies, as I never found anything wrong with the system, until I experienced it for myself. India
My first encounter with bribing happened when I turned 18. My father (Senior Sambarman!) was very particular that I took a driving license as soon as I become legally eligible for it, so I went to a driving school and started to learn ‘H & 8’! I had heard from my brother that he never did a proper ‘8’ to take his license; in fact he did his ‘8’ with his bike’s engine switched off! I still wonder how the ‘H & 8’ skills would make a better driver, when all the drivers in the city find it hard to do a ‘!’ or a ‘)’. After the hard learned ‘H & 8’ driving lessons, the day for testing the same arrived. I failed miserably, my ‘H’ turned out to be a ‘Z’ and my ‘8’ was a real ‘0’. I had paid a fee of Rs. 3500 to the driving school, just to learn ‘H & 8’ and I failed miserably, I was really disappointed and depressed. I was surprised to learn that I still managed to get my license, later I realized that the fee paid to the driving school included the ‘H & 8’s to be paid to the licensing officials.
Fast forwarding to a more recent and the experience in question, the Sambar family (me, my wife, mom and dad) moved to a new address, and it became necessary that each of us had to change the address in our respective voter identity cards. My dad first went to the village office; found out that to apply for renewing the voter id cards, elections have to be announced, then the dates for applications will be announced. Elections were announced, followed by which the dates for voter id applications were also announced. The Sambar family was the first to reach the venue, and we were lucky to avoid the long and snail like queue. We waited in the queue for almost two hours, holding the voter id cards. At last the officer came, I first showed him my card and informed that I wish renew my card with the new address. He had a thorough look at my card, and then stared at me as if I had committed a crime. “You’ll have to get a residency proof from the corporation office to do this” he angrily replied. The tone in which he spoke implied that something which he ate last night is still irritating his stomach, and he looked really angry of it.
Corporation office was miles away from the village office, the Sambar family rushed into the car and vanished from the site, reappearing in the Corporation office premises. We were shocked to see the long standing queue, each one standing there for the same purpose- to take a residency poof! I asked my dad to go home and collect the land, tax receipts and all the associated documents. I didn’t want to come back here for the same purpose again, so I made sure I’m equipped. Couple of more hours wasted in the queue, I finally reached the officer, by then dad had brought all the documents as well. I handed over the application form for residency proof with the supportive documents, this officer was worse than the other one, she didn’t even looked at my face. She was too busy writing something in her diary, while looking at the diary, she asked me to wait.
I waited for thirty minutes, got restless, asked her when I would get the certificate, to which she impolitely replied to wait and said it will take more time. That’s when my dad came to me again and asked me to attach the ‘special document’ with the application and give it to her again. I said no, because I considered it as ethically wrong and not adhering to my principles. But, when the scene of another long queue at the village office to applying for voter card renewal, flashed through my mind, I called up my dad and informed him that I accept his suggestion. The application was handed over to the officer again, this time with the ‘special document’ attached.
I was really surprised; the rude lady suddenly transformed herself, as if some exorcist drove away the evil inside her! She asked me to pull a chair and sit, and then she addressed me as ‘Sir’, “why did you wait for so long? You could have told me when you were waiting, I got engaged with other applications and missed yours”, this is how sweet she became. The Sambar family’s residency proof was ready in 5 minutes. I couldn’t help praising the magic of the “special document”!!!