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Monday, September 10, 2007

Bribe or a Convenience Tax

Raja Ram Mohan Rai gave us the freedom from Sati Pratha.
Gandhi gave us the freedom from British.
Nehru gave us the freedom from technological ignorance.
Ambedkar gave us the freedom from social injustice to Dalits.
Indira gave us the freedom from foreign threats through Nuclear Tests at Pokaharan.
We have got the freedom from poverty too to a larger extent.
And we have numerous freedom Gathas to speak for.
But do you think that are you Azad?
Probably not, because we still are a slave of Bribery. .
This is one among the social problems that needs to be addressed on war foot. It is like a cancer which if unchecked can take one’s life too. It is a major obstacle in the growth path of any nation.
We have seen numerous moments in our golden history. Starting from Freedom Moment to Harit Kranti to Shwet Kranti to Ayodhya Kranti to recent Nuclear Kranti. But why no major Kranti had hit the roads against corruption till date. I tried to find out the reason and I am too much convinced of my answer too. The basic reason is that we want to live our life conveniently and to ensure this apart from other taxes we pay like Income Tax, Service Tax etc. we feel no shame in paying bribe or what I say a “Convenience Tax”.
This tax is payable head or tail .It means it is to be paid whether Fault is yours or no fault of yours. Say if you are over-speeding your bike and you over-run the red lights then the best, cheapest and convenient way to escape is to pay this tax. In this situation you had committed a mistake so no doubt you come under this nasty tax-net. But when you are innocent then again you fall pray. How?
Recently I got a chance to visit the famous Hindu Shrine, located in the pleasant valley of Himalayas in so called India’s Heaven Jammu and Kashmir, Maa Vaishno Devi. Mid-way, my soul was full of sacred and goody-goody feelings. I was worshipping god in my heart. With full devotion and innocent heart I was heading to the darbar, as Mataji had called me! But suddenly somewhere 10 km before Jammu a Policewala waived his hand to stop my Indica. I thought it as a usual checking as J&K is a terrorism hit state. My Driver, Bunty drove the car to the side and switched off the ignition. Now the usual interrogation started. Policewala “Kahan jaa rahe ho?” Bunty “Sahab mata ke darshan karne jaa rahe hai, Vaishno Devi”. The cop was not convinced; he further asked “Peeche baitha aadmi (me) kaun hai?” Bunty “Sahab , hamare sahib hai.” He peeped through the window and put a devil’s sight on me. I seemed to be a non-violent stuff to him so he did not dare to disturb me. I remained mum too, thinking it is a usual stuff and the driver is well equipped to handle such situation. But this was not end of the interrogation. Infact for a moment I felt proud that how alert are our jawaans.
I sensed an urge to get off the car and salute their spirits at the moment. With such sincerity to the duty of our cops -who can dare to think of disrupting peace in the valley? The khakhiclad chap ordered to show the dickey to him. The driver alighted and as he was just going to open the back door, then my jawaan in high spirits stopped him and asked shamelessly “kuch chai-pani dedo”.I was a first-timer to the land of Jammu and I had big image of cops posted there in my mind. Since childhood I have respected them in high spirits. But soon this building collapsed as a major-earthquake of mean thoughts has hit the city of “Sevaks of patriotism”. The water has just become sour. The shameful incident had shaken my whole body that how much trusted these eunuchs are? Later I came to know that the deal nick-named as Chaai-Pani cost us Rs.50.
After this the entire Bhatki-Bhavna inside me smoked-off at an instant with ideas of revolution replacing them. I was undecided that weather we have purchased the freedom for Rs. 50 or sold it for this meager sum. The freedom for which Gandhiji, just for a pinch of salt had traveled 500 miles on foot in scorching heat. The freedom which Americans have tried to buy after each Pokharan. The freedom which Brave Indian army had snatched from the nasty hands of Pakistan at Kargil and marking a place in History. The thoughts took me in messy intra-dialogue. Myself and Bunty both added their worries in the curry that we were forced to cook and we were arranging items for it in that scary night. The curry acted as a “Food for Thought” for us.
As we traveled the road the curry became hot-red. We have taken a resolution that from now-on we will not sell our freedom. Because a country can only be called free when its people enjoy freedom. Freedom of Individual. A freedom is always under attack from External and Internal elements and it’s a continuous fight that everyone has to live with. The moment you feel scared and dull, then it is for sure that not only your present but also you future is at stake. For this you should have enough inner courage. You need to shape up your muscles by regularly exercising in the gymnasium of moral dharma. Appear and re-appear in the power-test of your self-conscience. Evaluate yourself from each angle and refill it with new zest if needed. The perfect example I would like to quote is of a normal, commonly seen seasonal mosquitoes. Till they die they never let you sleep. They keep on lingering around you as they are challenging you that “Come and Fight with Me without a slightest fear of the outcome”. Same ways we have to challenge the corrupt machinery without getting even slightly tensed with the consequences. Yogis long for Spiritual Salvation and you worldly beings should praise Moral Salvation.
To test waters we were challenged by a new hurdle. Another Naka and a new khakhiwala stopped us but with the same ugly intention. For instant I felt that they are paid only to demean the holy shrine. I felt that even if Mataji calls me again to her Darbar, I will think twice before giving her consent. This time again the same dialogues were repeated but the climax was different. He begged (the right word) for some chaai-pani, which we immediately denied with strong resentment in our eyes. Although we were aware of the consequences. He could easily slap a false case on us. He could easily declare us as an Atankwadi and could even encounter us. We hear daily of these fake-encounters in news where civilians become the naïve target. No one even would question him. Or last but not the least he could have detain us for thorough torturous interrogation for simply he is doubtful for us. So, if we don’t want to fight a moral fight which at the moment we may even loose, we can do so by paying a simple and cheap Convenience Tax of Rs.50.But this time we were ready to face any dire-consequences. Come what may we would not auction our freedom. Take us to the prison or abuse us. We can pay with our bodies but not with soul. Waves of Gandhi’s Complete Non-Cooperation moment enthralled our minds. And finally it re-worked. We were successful in throwing all hot curry on his disgusting thoughts which evaporated him. A wave of pride dilated my veins immediately. I have just emerged winner in the Jihad against the malicious practice of Bribery or a Convenience Tax.
I request all my fellow indians to be brave and join this Jihad against this unlawful tax.

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