Corruption is a well-known, prevalent evil which I suppose, we all must have encountered somewhere or sometime in our lives. Most of those times, we end up on the complaining side like complaining about paying more to a government official for doing his/her task. And sometimes, we end up on the part in which we are playing an active part willingly and contribute to feed and nourish the Corruption. I find these times as very interesting as we would not admit that we are perhaps doing something wrong and try to support our action with our reasoning skills which provides us with a dilemma on what ethics is and what it’s not.
Let me describe a few situations and let me know if you would have done something different than the protagonist of these situations. If yes, then what and why. If no, you are free to add your line of reasoning which supports the action taken by the protagonist. Do you think the action taken by the protagonist in these situations is justified and if so, do you consider them as contributing towards Corruption ?
Situation # 1
Situation: I was travelling on my bike and by mistake, I didn’t see that the traffic signal had turned red. I had moved a few metres ahead of the supposed stop point when I realized my mistake and so, I tried to push my bike back to that point using my legs. However, I was prevented from doing so, as I saw there was a traffic police officer standing a few metres ahead of me and asking me to come forward towards him. Instinctually, I drove towards him and stopped the bike. He started scribbling down my bike registration number and was about to issue me chalan charges.
Action: I took out a 100 rupees note out of my pocket and handed over to him while saying “Sorry Sir”. He let me off and I drove my bike away.
Reason: I thought that I was not doing anything wrong by bribing him because both of us were benefitting from this bribe. This low-paid traffic police officer is making some money while I am escaping from paying more and the trouble of appearing in court. So, this can be considered as an out-of-court settlement. Secondly, I didn’t try to zoom off on my bike after realizing that I had skipped the traffic light. It was an unintentional mistake and I should not be charged heavily for it.
Situation: I had to take a bus from my say place A to place B which was just about 700 metres away. The normal fare in a non-AC bus was Rs 3 and the minimum fare in an AC bus is Rs 10. Unluckily that day, I could find a non-AC bus despite waiting for 5 mins. I saw an AC bus was coming which went through the desired route.
Action: I decided to board this bus and when the conductor came to me, I slipped him a five-rupee coin saying that I have to get down at a place which is just 700 metres away. He accepted this small token amount and passed me without issuing a ticket (which of course was not possible legally).
Reason: The amount I gave was value for money, as one could go upto 2 kms distance for a Rs 10 ticket in an AC bus. In the ordeal, the poor conductor gets a chance to earn some money while I get to save the time which I would have wasted waiting for a non-AC bus to come.
Situation: I had to board a train to my hometown on short notice. I tried getting a reservation using the tatkal scheme but the railways website didn’t respond properly and I was unable to book a ticket. It was urgent for me to board this train on that date.
Action: I decided to board the train and thought I shall pay the ticket collector some extra amount to get a berth which maybe lying empty in some compartment as some person might have missed the train but forgot to make cancellations.
Reason: The urgency of situation demands me to abandon thinking about ethics of the action and what I was doing. We can’t follow the rule book line-by-line as there would be some cases in which the rules won’t make any sense and I think this is one of such cases.