In the Indian sub-continent, corruption is a by-word. It’s spoken matter-of-factly and speckled across any sentence that also has the words “apply” and “government” in it. Then, when the purported and impassioned change-agent claims it is be found everywhere and therefore eradicated, one look under the table is all you’ll need to see the Mahatma Gandhi smiling broadly across every 1000-rupee note. That is when the realization strikes: when he/she said corruption was everywhere, he/she meant it. Is he/she to be blamed?
The popular answer would be a loud and resonating “Yes!”. That agreement is backed by justice, public opinion and the oh-so-important voice of the opposition party’s candidate, but that’s not the reason it’s the right answer. Unfortunately, the right reason has not been in attendance to back the right answer. The reason we say “Yes!” is because to say “No!” would mean pan-social condemnation. Unfortunately, the right reasons to say “No!” have always been present.
What is on the other side of goodness? Wherefrom do you graduate to graduate into goodness? “He is a good man”, you say. Was he born good? Was his understanding of goodness hardwired into his grey cells? He must have known badness to know what it means to be good. To raise one’s hand against a woman is construed as being violent irrespective of what the woman said/did. Therefore, a man who does not raise his hand against a woman irrespective of what she said/did is just as gentlemanly as he is mindful of the law, mindful of the social construct that yielded any acceptance of the restraint by mankind.
Recently, there was the case of some students of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) coming together to form a party, Lok Paritran, initiated with the belief that goodness alone will be sufficient to perpetuate the implications of their benign doctrine. They trusted in their education and faculties of logic and reasoning to be able to, some day, address the momentous issues facing the nation: poverty, corruption and energy. They filed their nominations from seven constituencies in Tamil Nadu during the 2006 elections.
Their comprehensive defeat says nothing; why would it when defeats and failures are so common? What spoke loudest were two things:
- The reasons backing the decision
- The perspectives
The reasons backing the decisions
The proclamation of “not leaving for the USA so as to better the Indian peoples” warrants nothing. Absolutely nothing. That is not a valid reason to back the decision to contest the polls. I’m all for the youth coming to power, I’ll write slogans and advertising campaigns for your party, but you are one man who made one sacrifice. Do you think other political leaders haven’t made sacrifices? Even the thug who is in power was not born a thug. He was and is a product of his circumstances: it was not his choice, but when it comes to being judged for what you’re worth, your sacrifice weighs in as the same null value that his circumstances do.
It was not your mistake to assume that you are not a product of your circumstances, but it was your mistake to think you will be evaluated differently for it, that you are above your fellow-candidates simply because you have the academic backing that is lacking in all of them. You may be qualified to occupy the post, but you are not qualified to be the man the people will elevate from a position of distributed to a position of consolidated power. Haven’t you noticed how much IAS officers and aggressive politicians are different not only as a matter of how they got there, but what they’re doing when they get there?
The opposite of goodness is not badness. In fact, that is a gross miscalculation: goodness also has its malice, goodness also has its capacity for malfeasance. It is the rejection of that necessity that has culminated with the belief that corruption in India will sustain, be sustained, for tens of decades to come. The wrongdoings of goodness will persevere one way or another; would it not be better to embrace them instead of rejecting them outright? Is it right to deny goodness its wishful desires whilst the faces of evil snigger?
Take a bribe, oil the gears, run the vehicle faster, run it over who it needs to be run over. In a system within which money is being constantly mobilized, bringing it to a sudden halt is going to cause an unnecessary dissonance; have you ever known a single crime that has been so large in scale and so abrupt in its demise?
However, the widespread desire to bring an end to the rampant injustice has resulted in the existing capacity of goodness being perceived as a relief while it isn’t, at least not fully. The moment its impeccable tendencies hesitate, there are cries for change, cries that have only corroborated the conclusion that giving goodness a chance could be a risk because only goodness has the capacity to disappoint as well.