The winds of foreign shores beacons many a fidgety native soul. Somewhat frustrated with the domestic scenario, a friend of mine applied for his passport. Since the government wants all native criminals to reside within the international boundaries of India (they are a great help during the elections), the police verification process is mandatory. This process like any other official procedure also moves at a prehistoric pace. In order to expedite things, this friend of mine decides to pay a visit to the local police station. The officer-in-charge demands grease worth Rs. 500 to lubricate the official machinery. But my friend, being the sales person that he is, haggles and haggles with amazing results. The frustrated officer bound by the age old tradition of the department asks him to atleast make a token contribution towards keeping the rusty red-taped machinery in working order. So a payment of a crisp five-rupee note is offered, which a constable reluctantly pockets (it is below the dignity of an officer-in-charge to accept small change).

The Mahatma’s image on the five-rupee note couldn’t help but simper.

Rs. 210.68 billion is paid by Indians annually to keep the greasy palms of the babudom well oiled. And this includes my friend’s humble contribution. From the peon to the PM (I hold the present incumbent in high esteem), all have dirtied their asses in this ocean of grease.

AIDS might be eradicated in the near future, but this Additional Income Demand Syndrome will continue to compete with the nation’s GDP for many a five-year-plan.

Is there any way to curb this age-old avariciousness? Perhaps mankind’s oldest profession can lend a clue.

Legalise corruption!

This will make all those greasy-palmed officials more accountable. The tax-exempt status of bribes will automatically disappear. The government can impose Value Added Tax on every under-the-table transaction. The tax coffers will overflow. Maybe we can ask Lalu Prasad Yadav to table a bill in this regard in the next session of parliament. It will definitely be passed unanimously in both the houses. The taint stain on the cabinet will also be washed away.

The smirk on the Mahatma’s face is fast transforming into a frown. My flight of fancy must now crash-land.

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