Yesterday, this paper ran an extensive front page report called ‘Dummies Guide to Paying Bribe to Cops. It said that if one’s bribing lexicon was limited to ‘chai paani’ and ‘baksheesh’ the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) was there to provide one with a crash course on bribing.
After snaring 181 cops in the act of accepting bribes, the ACB has prepared a list of phrases that were commonly used to demand money. These phrases ranged from ‘Chaha Panyacha Bagha’ to ‘Vajan Thevaila Lagel’.
Many of the phrases may be familiar to Mumbaikars, others may not and may evince some amusement, even surprise. It is evident though that despite measures, cops are still taking bribes or asking for them in different ways.
With the advent of technology and passage of time, bribe-taking lingo has also changed, couched in different ways and different ‘signals’. It is good that the ACB has actually compiled different ways cops ask for bribes, but, people must stop expecting cops to take bribes too.
We have to stop breaking traffic rules, expecting to get away from them by paying the ubiquitous hafta or ‘bribe’ to traffic policemen. This seems to be the most common kind of bribe that, to Mumbaikars, is almost a given to pay.
On the other hand, the cops must also make it easier for people to be honest. If caught for a traffic offence, the fine must be easier to pay than a bribe.
In fact, the fine paying is riddled with so many rules and is mired in so much red tape, that the offender, who wants to be honest, is simply tempted to grease palms, so as not to get caught up in the rigmarole.
How the system should work is that the bribe taker is punished, the one that offers the bribe or giver is shamed and humiliated if not punished, and people are made to feel that in the end, honesty pays.
Like it takes two hands to clap, it takes two hands to bribe, the giver and the taker. Let the system ensure that never the twain do meet.