It starts with me… or does it end here?
Reading the newspaper this morning, I realized how far we have come as Indians…
In the last 63 years of our independence, we have turned around from being one of the poorest countries in the world to being one of the fastest growing economies on the globe.
Today’s India is shining! But is it really?
The growth of wealth in our country is keeping pace with the growth of our population. There are now more wealthy Indians than have ever been before.
There is also a very distinct divide between the haves and have-nots! Our society’s norms and the hedonistic mores that we developed as we progressed, cater purely to those who have the money and are willing to spend.
Gone are the days when a home cooked meal at the dining table was a great way to spend a Sunday with the family. When Diwali, Christmas and Eid were celebrated more as a means to meet your extended family and friends and build bonhomie than to show how much wealth you possess.
When it did not matter what car you drove (whether you even had a car), what brand of shirt you wore or where you spent your summer holidays.
Today, there is only one thing that drives us as a race. Money!
And this desire to be ‘rich’ has percolated down into every household, every citizen, every nook and corner of our lives.
Nobody is happy to get what they got. Everyone wants to get rich and get rich quick. It doesn’t matter how you get it. As long as you get it.
A friend of mine had a very apt description for today’s norm – ‘High on ambition… Low on Morality’.
The spate of crimes being uncovered every second day confirms this. These are crimes being committed by highly educated youth from good family backgrounds (including MBAs and school children). There is only one justification they have when asked about why they did it. The lure of earning quick money to support their lifestyles. Lifestyles, that are beyond their means. Fuelled by an overkill of advertising that glorifies ‘must haves’, longing to keep up with better off friends, or simply, greed!
Everyday we read about such instances in the newspapers. Everyday we hope that our children will not go down that path. Everyday we put down the papers and forget about it, while we get on with our lives.
And the reason behind this is corruption and apathy.
Corruption of the system. Corruption of our values. Corruption of our thoughts. And our acceptance of the same.
Today it is impossible to think of doing anything without greasing palms. A lot of our parents have gone through their lives without paying a single paisa as a bribe. They still managed to get things done. We, however, cannot get anything done without paying someone off.
And we accept it.
‘As long as it does not affect me, why should I bother?” is a thought that most of us are familiar with. The problem is that a lot of people thought the same way about Hitler. We saw the consequences of that.
Where did we go wrong? When did it become acceptable to pay someone to get a ‘jump the queue / get out of jail free’ card? Why are we accepting of corruption when it favours us? Why are we OK with the corruption of our very moral fibre?
We all feel insulted when the world media plasters accounts of corruption related to the Commonwealth Games all over their front pages. Yet we are first to bring out that 100 rupee note to get out of a troublesome or sticky situation. Some ‘crimes’ are acceptable. Some are not.
We know that it is wrong. We know that there should be change. But who will bell the cat?
How can a criminal judge a criminal? We can look aghast at the crimes being committed by youth today, but we should really be stopping to ask ourselves… “What was my role in this?”
Acceptance of lowered morality? Apathy towards things that are not directly related to us? Actively participating in creating the hedonistic norm, of living beyond our means? Or being ostriches – choosing to do nothing and instead sticking our heads into the ground, hoping that the problem will be gone when we surface?
There is an urgent requirement to weed out the rot in the system, but unless we start with ourselves, it would be a case of the burglar crying ‘thief’.
We have a long way to go… and a lot that we need to do. I shall ponder over it and hopefully come up with a quick fix solution to take care of corruption once and for all.
In the meantime, I will go back to my apathetic ways and grease the palms of the next traffic cop who pulled me over for jumping a signal! Maybe you should too! After all isn’t it true that if we are all corrupt, then the world is equal once more?