P.J. Thomas was shown over the television today expounding on remedies for corruption, he said that one could be people's refusal to pay bribes. First of all, Thomas, with a case of fraud and cheating pending against him, makes a laughable caricature of the high post of chief vigilance commissioner he happens to occupy, courtesy the prime minister and his Home minister, both of whom have been certified as honest persons by the prime minister in waiting. Then by offering his solution to the problem of corruption he has exposed his total lack of understanding about the situation obtaining on the ground.
There are people who pay bribes to induce a government employee to look the other way when they are violating the law. Here people paying bribes and those accepting, both are accomplices in a crime of corruption and both gain at the cost of the public exchequer. Obviously then such a bribe payer is not going to listen to Thomas' exhortation not to give bribes. On the other hand, there are those who even for getting their legitimate work done by a government employee are forced to grease his or her palms. These victims of corruption have no choice, if they do not pay they will be made to make endless rounds of government offices losing their wages and incurring transport cost. If they listen to Thomas and not pay bribes they might forget about getting their work done by the so-called public servants.
So, for whose benefit did Thomas speak? My advice, unsolicited of course, to this favourite bureaucrat of Manmohan Singh and P. Chidambaram is that until the 27th January 2011, when the Supreme Court will decide whether to dismiss him, he should observe complete silence in public.