Friday, December 31, 2010

An Honest Man

Yesterday, the CBI, the IB, Income Tax, RAW, the State Police, Central Vigilance and other enforcement agencies raided my friend, Sri H (to protect his identity). He lives down a lane in a two bedroom house (with a mortgage), has two children, drives a 1990 Maruti 800 and owns an old colour TV. He’s a handsome man of around 46 who works as an assistant secretary in a central government department. Fifty official vehicles blocked the lane, the road and tailed back to the traffic lights. Beyond the lights were television OB vans and 200 reporters baying for the story. At least 120 officials were crowded into his home, every one of them wanting to be the first to interrogate Sri H.
‘I was here first,’ the CBI officials screamed and brandished their orders from the very highest Delhi command in the land.
‘No, we were,’ the IB officials also waved orders from the same highest command.
‘We have first priority,’ Income tax shouted. They had the same orders. As did the State Police and all the others
Sri H, trapped in a corner with his wife and children hiding behind him, asked in his polite voice. ‘What have I done? Someone please explain why I am being raided.’ He had to then shout to be heard above the din.
There was a moment of stunned silence, before all the officials laughed and slapped each other on their backs. ‘What has he done? he wants to know, acting innocent. We’ll tell you what you’ve done.’ They all took out their orders and read the charges in unison. ‘You have committed sedition against the State, you have acted against the constitution of the country and you have ruined India’s reputation all around the world.’
‘Can you please be more specific?’ Sri H asked.
‘Specific!’ They all screamed. ‘Sri H you are charged for being the only honest man in Bharat which is a crime liable for 200 years imprisonment. Here we are trying for India to make it to Number One as the most corrupt country in the world, and you have ruined our chances with your reputation for being an honest official. This is an act of sedition as you have acted against the all the amoral laws of the State. You sign papers without demanding bribes, you don’t possess a Swiss Bank account, you don’t even send your children to expensive schools, you don’t possess secret bank lockers, you only own this cheap house, you constantly report corrupt officials and politicians to Vigilance who are sick and tired of you. You have ruined the scam careers of officials and politicians.’
A CBI official silenced the furious officials. ‘Sri H, we’re a very understanding people. We can dismiss all these charges and I guarantee nothing will happen to you if you take a bribe. You can build a palatial home, drive a BWM, and have an account in Switzerland.’ He turned to his juniors. ‘Who is holding the bribe money?’
Immediately, CBI, IB, Income Tax, State Police all of them rushed forwards waving 1,000 rupee notes. ‘Take my money, take my money…’ They all screamed. They had their cameras ready to photograph Sri H taking the first bribe for doing absolutely nothing. At least 10 crores fell at his feet.
Sri H drew himself up to his full height. ‘I refuse to take a bribe from any private person, corporate honcho, communications companies, industrialists, politicians, goondas and enforcement officials.’
They all immediately arrested Sri H and took him to prison. There they beat him up, applied electrodes to tender parts, burnt him with cigarettes and poured money into his cell. He still refused to accept a bribe. A year later, he was produced in court for committing sedition and treason against the State for being an honest man. The judge was so shocked that he sentenced Sri H to 250 years in prison.