An uncle of mine was telling me an anecdote the other day. He was the Chairman of the Fund Raising Committee, constituted to raise money for a free school for children of Construction laborers in South Bangalore. The land was to be donated by the Church for free occupancy. After getting the required funds, he approached a Malayalee ex minister in Bangalore for help with the required permissions to start the school, after encountering red tapism, demand for bribes and other delays you would encounter if you took the straight and narrow path.
The minister did get him the permissions but asked him for a tidy sum as his commission. Uncle was aghast! The sum asked by the minister was more than half of what he had collected for the school. But the minister was adamant. Finally after many negotiations, he agreed to a more reasonable amount.
I am now working weekends for a Non Profit organization. Before this organization entered India, they were advised to grease palms if they wanted to fulfill their goal of making a difference in the lives of the poor. An American lawyer attached to this organization had this anecdote to tell us the other day! After the organization had identified a cluster of villages to be adopted for their work, they were asked to meet the local MLA. When the group visited him, he told them rather pleasantly that they if hoped to work in the villages under his jurisdiction, they would have to pay him one crore. The lawyer expressed his inability to pay such a huge amount as the organization was a non-profit unit and survived on grants. The MLA without batting an eyelid told the lawyer to shell out the money from his pocket as he was a high profile lawyer in New York!!! The work came to a stand still and they adopted another village were the MLA was “cheaper". The village flourishes, while the other languishes and now has barely any residents left.
All the people I have talked to, specially those working for NGO's and non profit organizations, express their frustration at the ancient walls of outdated rules and regulations erected between them and their beneficiaries that only serves as a loop hole for opportunists like the above two men to make money or stall work. Apparently there are millions of dollars of unspent funds lying in various banks, grants that were released for upliftment of the rural poor that will never reach them due to red tapism and corruption. Most NGO’s and non profit organizations in India function because they have realized that it is no use fighting against the system and grease palms to carry on their work.
Two interviews by central ministers, one on the Jaipur blasts and one on the fertilizer crisis in Karnataka, opened my eyes to another startling fact. Most States don’t even know what their powers are. They blame the centre for everything and then central ministers have to point out as the Home Minster put it so succinctly in an interview “Read the laws” The Rajasthan CM didn’t even know that she could have taken several security measures to prevent such an incident because the State had the power to do so.
The above incident only brings to fore the fact that, elected representatives in the States are not even aware of their constitutional rights as a State of the Indian union. Nor do they make an effort to do so. People get elected, attend the legislative assembly if they don’t get a cabinet berth and if they do, then attend office and dance to the whims and fancies of the bureaucrats and occasionally take some populist measures.
India today is like a vinatge vehicle in a Formula One race! A very old vehicle with outdated parts, some new parts that had to be replaced because they were so worn out, trying to keep up with the world that is using the latest technology in its engines. Unless we clean the accumulate dirt in our engines and change what is outdated, we cannot keep pace with the world.
Plastic can now be decomposed!