Saturday, November 20, 2010

Playing it straight is its own reward!

Recently I met an agreeable gentleman who after retirement at sixty years had held a very high political appointment for a number of years. This was my first meeting with him, yet after a few minutes of introductory exchange he expressed his disappointment that he could never use his office to make money for himself while another person on a similar position had made roughly five hundred crore rupees. He did not even agree to my remonstration that he could at least sleep well at night, saying that that man was sleeping better because he had 24-hour air-conditioning in his house due to a powerful stand-by diesel generating set! As I was meeting him to seek his advice on an important matter, I veered the discussion to that.

But I found his thought process greatly disturbing; instead of feeling happy and proud of himself that he did not fall victim to temptations, irresistible for lesser mortals, here he was full of regret. Perhaps the changed value system of the society finally got him. But does it have to be like this, does someone ever rue the fact that he or she did not pick up muck from the street to eat it? Accepting bribes or resorting to any other form of corruption is no different from eating muck – I know I have made a very strong statement but I believe every word of it. And I want that this should be written in bold letters at several vantage points in every government or municipal office; let the corrupt feel the taste of filth and muck in their mouth every time they use public office for private gain.

Honest public officials are as such in a very small minority in our country and if some of them start getting discomfited and disheartened seeing the others’ ill-gotten riches, it is only a matter of time when they will also join the ranks of the corrupt. We can not afford to let that happen for obvious reasons. So, each one of us who consider ourselves honest should provide succour and support to one another in our moments of doubt about our own steadfastness to the values and principles we have been holding dear.

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