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How Readers reacted to Dilip D'Souza's last column
Date sent: Thu, 23 Jul 1998 17:26:58 +0200
By writing what you've written, you haven't broken new ground. Every Indian who has been to college and comes from the so-called "middle class" has at some point of his/her life witnessed a situation similar to the ones that you've described, and has experienced the same helplessness that you have voiced.
I've read a few of your previous essays as well (on immigration and the defence budget) and they all echo the same despondency and resignation as this one. A mere acknowledgement of a problem by way of writing about it is very good, but the failure to suggest counteractive steps for the Indians who are constantly maneuvering between rising costs, power cuts and bad infrastructure takes away some of the constructive effect of such acknowledgement.
We all know that the United States insurance companies are more effective in their public dealings than the Indian ones. Why only insurance, take any other sector, it's the same story and in each and in everyone of those sectors such a horror story can be found. But intellectuals such as you should not only illustrate problems but also create a more positive feeling among the people from time to time. In any case, an article such as this is not read by the people about whom it has been written. So, unless these articles do not motivate the people who read them to reflect, a change would be impossible.
Date sent: Thu, 23 Jul 1998 17:24:19 PDT
One has to congratulate Mr D'Souza for writing such a fine article. The blatant truth hurts, which is the main reason for the many attacks on the author.
Being a person of Indian origin, I am very much aware of the fact that India is probably the most corrupt and most vicious country in the world. Politicians and bureaucrats cannot save the country from doom. But people like Dilip D'Souza can. India's biggest nemesis is its own culture which breeds nothing but savages. Nehru himself must carry a great deal of the blame for it -- it was he who started the ball rolling with his love of socialist economics which created a worthless bureaucracy and equally inept factory managers.
Date sent: Wed, 22 Jul 1998 23:57:07 -0700
Thanks a lot for putting out such hard hitting columns & also congratulations for having such columnists who don't hesitate to write about some of the fundamental human issues which we Indians are faced with and, unfortunately, have come to accept. I have had couple of such experiences like this at the Bombay RTO and MHADA. Both incidents occurred in the supposedly most professional city of India, and were done to an educated person like me who knew about his rights. I can only imagine how frustrating it could be in some other small town in India to an illiterate person who has no idea about his/her rights.
Whenever I think of this massive problem of low level corruption which directly affects the common man in India, I start thinking: what kind of people might be so cruel & insensitive? Then I realise that these are none other than the people around me, people related to me or the people I know. They can be my friend, uncle or my father. That's when I am convinced that if anyone is disturbed by this kind of humiliating & pathetic corruption, they need to ask themselves: Is my neighbour corrupt? Is my uncle corrupt? Is my father corrupt? They should see what can be done to remedy this. I think the media can do a lot towards this.
Date sent: Wed, 22 Jul 1998 19:02:56 -0400
I think the coverage is a worthy attempt to highlight the pervasive corruption in India. These events should always be brought to public notice in the widest possible way. I hope public awareness will bring some amount of control to such inhuman but not very uncommon events in India. Thank you, Dilip, for your brave attempt. Keep up the good work.
Kiran M Dasgupta
Date sent: Wed, 22 Jul 1998 13:40:32 -0400
You have talked about bribery in your column. Where were you born and brought up? If it was in India, why are you so surprised? Grow up! Face the reality around you. Tell us something new. Don't tell us something that every Tom, Dick and Harry in India knows.
A majority of the people are poor and have to struggle in their every day life. I am not providing excuses for those who do take bribes, but these are the harsh realities of life. Calling them hyenas or anything else is childish. We did that when we were kids, calling those who anger us 'monkey' and 'donkey'. This Srinivas feels very embittered by what happened in India . Well, ok ! Has this person done anything to help the lot in India?
People come to America, earn a lot of money and then sit and curse India for its shortcomings. It is your country. So try to understand why things happen the way they do and try to help the people there to better their lot. It's so easy to just sit and just curse everything in India like an outsider. Extremely immature style of writing. We wrote better essays in 5th grade.
Date sent: Wed, 22 Jul 1998 11:53:24 -0400
I am not very surprised to see the accounts of the things that happened. But after going through the article I went through the list of old responses to D'Souza's revelations. And it struck me that most of the responses are from people who say that it is but natural these things happen in India and it is equally natural that the treatment meted out to the victims was in this manner. A few denounce Dilip D'Souza saying that these things could not have happened. I live in a foreign country. I study here for mechanical engineering and use the facilities that this university provides. In return, I do my research that these people will use for their own benefit. I drive a van and this pays my bills. They are not doing me any favour and neither am I doing them any favour. I do not bear them any "allegiance".
Comparing Indian and American insurance companies might not do any good to us. An American insurance company which makes the process of making profits by defaulting on payments as its policy will soon fall. An Indian company monopolises on its costumers. It is unfortunate that our economy has forced these companies to transform into heartless machines of survival. But I assure you that in America, the companies are heartless machines of profit-making.
Regarding the officer who was waiting for bribes... well, I have faced similar situations on my own but nothing to this extent. I can offer no solution to these problems. I can but pray for my dear Motherland. Jai Hind.
Date sent: 22 Jul 1998 10:45:45 -0500
India's bureaucracy is like piranhas. I am from Karnataka and will tell you that the most corrupt officials are in that state. You will be surprised to see how many lies the officials will tell you before getting any simple work done. The police are the worst criminals anywhere on the earth. Corruption is rampant. I feel that India's hopes of improvements won't happen until people exercise their rights and rein in corruption and inefficiency.
A while ago, a person from Shirva (near Udipi in Karnataka) applied for a passport from Bangalore. The passport office in Bangalore (the place where the density of corrupt officials is the highest barring may be Bihar) delayed it for several months asking for unneccesary documents. After more than ten trips to Bangalore from Shirva and begging for the passport, the passport was given.
If India is a democracy, why should the bureaucracy be so oppressive? Indian bureaucracy has added many steps to impede and make it excruciatingly painful to get anything done by the government. It is a rotten country where almost everybody is corrupt to the core and not much is done.
I congratulate you for fighting on behalf of Samiullah and Srinivas. What happened in Bombay riots to Muslims is barbaric. I am of the opinion that things are not better for other citizens. Indians exploit the masses regardless of religion, caste etc. Instead of getting killed, you get tortured. You won't be able to name one city, state or central government office that works without taking bribes.
Date sent: Wed, 22 Jul 1998 08:12:12 -0700
Till we let a lot of companies enter the insurance arena we will not see improvement in the service. In America they say that "If you do not have property rights you will not have personal rights." If one analyses this statement one will see how true it is, especially with India.
Whether Samanulla is a real or fictitious character, it leaves no doubt in my mind that the incident is true. I do not think there is any Indian who has grown up in India and not experienced corruption in one form or the other personally. It is rampant and it affects the middle and lower strata of the population the most. Lack of a good judicial system has helped corruption to breed unchecked.
My first visit to Bombay after seven years abroad was a nightmare. At the Bombay Customs, the officer took my electric shaver and the few sarees I had bought for my mother and sister. Who do you complain about corruption to? Indira Gandhi had withdrawn Rs 6 million without any documents, and conveniently killed a few of the bank officers during the investigations -- and they called it suicide!
American insurance companies are also not nice guys. It is only because the law allows them to be sued that they are tolerable.
Date sent: Wed, 22 Jul 1998 10:59:55 -0400
I don't think these incidents are stories created by the writer. There are a lot of people in India who receive the same treatment as Samiullah and Srinivas. I think this theory of bribery is part of every government office. I still can't understand why they expect and anticipate bribes for the work they are paid to do. They think they have the right to demand bribes. This is similar to the matrimonial system in India, where the son-in law demands dowry from his father-in law. Both these people think it is their birth right to demand money.
I am not saying that this state of mind exists with only government employees. But it is found in almost all the people who serve the public. We Indians boast a lot of our culture and traditions. I feel really ashamed when I compare our society to that of the US. This corrupted society exists because the framework of the society has been spoilt by the political leaders or by the selfish people who want to get their work done. So there is no point of being surprised of coming across Srinivas or Samiullah.
Date sent: Wed, 22 Jul 1998 10:45:24 -0400
I do not disbelieve what Dilip has written. These things can happen in India. My take on this situation is that we have all allowed ourselves to reach this point. To reverse the course is not going to be easy. Every society has good and bad elements. In the USA, recently there was an incident in which a black man was tied behind a car by two white men who drove it around at full speed. No society is, unfortunately, free of such people.
The success of a society lies in containing these bad elements. Having proper law and order. Having an efficient justice system. And having a system that works. Even with that (all of this exists in US), bad elements will occasionally spring up but will be contained.
In India, we neither have a powerful law and order system. We definitely do not have efficient or honest government officials. On the other hand all the differences (esp the religious ones) are exploited by our political leaders. How can then one expect to have peace in the society?
It was not very long ago that Sikhs were slaughtered. And our former PM, Mr Rajiv Gandhi, took 3 full days to call the army to contain the situation. By that time the damage was already done.
As long as we have vested interests, inefficiency, lack of law and order, these things will continue.
Date sent: Wed, 22 Jul 1998 08:43:17 -0500
Good article. But nothing is going to change until and unless somebody takes up arms against the government thugs and scum politicians. Who says these things do not happen in India? There was an article in The Times of India just couple of days back about a robbery in New Delhi. This person was robbed at gun point. Another person kept on calling the patrol van but no answer!! Ultimately after a long time the police arrived.
These things happen every day, every hour, every moment. The only solution: let everybody have guns. If somebody harasses you, do not go to policemen, just be a prosecutor, judge and executor yourself. Hopefully this day will come sooner than later.
Date sent: Wed, 22 Jul 1998 12:21:41 EDT
I have been waiting for a column highlighting the sad state of affairs in India. The story of Srinivas is very much true and I have met him in California. In fact, he was planning to settle down in India before that tragic accident happened. This could have never happened in the US. The paramedical forces, police and insurance industry in India is at its rock-bottom. There is no value for human rights in India.
Let me share some of my experiences which has reinforced my hatred towards these jokers who are hungry to get money and money. When I was in Bangalore, we bought a house. The area in which we moved in was just taken over by the corporation. We needed to pay some money for conversion and other utilities. We had to pay more money in bribe than the actuals. Our neighbour belonged to the same community as our erstwhile PM Mr Deve Gowda and he used caste politics and managed not to pay the actuals, let alone bribes. Same thing with the telephone. I had to wait for a couple of months before they replaced the faulty instrument.
On the contrary life here in US is much more easier. I don't have to bribe anyone or roam from pillar to post to get the job done. The need of the hour in India is not to build nuke weapons or to obtain a seat in Security Council but to eradicate corruption. There is a popular joke here that Bill Clinton is willing to take over India to improve the situation -- but without Bihar and Tamil Nadu.
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