Influence distorts our daily lives. It demeans and belittles our efforts. It’s not insidious but blatant. The laws are bent and twisted so as to allow our polticians to get away with murder, rape and extortion; our industrialists to scamming thousands of crores out of our pockets, with the connivance of the concerned ministries.
Influence gets you what you do not deserve. It gravitates, like water down a hill, to the rich. Political influence is of course the most powerful and the most coveted of all influences. We see it at work daily. It distorts, twists and mangles all the laws of our land, making them meaningless. Influence helps the politicians to escape retribution for their, to put it mildly, misdeeds. We see it at work in the Prime Ministers office and all the way down to the Panchayat level. Ministers, with FIRs against them and court judgements hanging over them are forgiven and embraced like naughty children. No matter that men have died in the course of the minister’s transgression and the nation’s future placed in jeopardy.
We all know that the guilty minister will threaten to resign. This is to impress his gullible public that he is a man or honour and high morality. Of course he knows, and we know, that if he has the right influence with those in power, his resignation will not be accepted. In Japan, when a minister is disgraced, being honourable men, they may occasionally commit hara-kiri. It’s fortunate that such an extreme form of self punishment does not exist in our country. If it did, most of our politicians would dead and gone.
Some ministers commit murder and that it’s just by sheer chance, because their party lost power, they are investigated. We’re fortunate they have reached the investigation stage at all. We all know, without any doubt, there will not be a prosecution, a trail and a guilty verdict. The course of justice doesn’t flow that smoothly if you have influence, it gets lost somewhere in the alleys and by-ways of lethargy. It’s only a matter of time before his party wins back power, the case is closed and the minister reinstated with all his pomp and glory. If his party had not lost power there wouldn’t have even be this minor hiccup in his life.
Of course, we’re all guilty of trying to use our influence with those who hold such influence in our lives. We actively conspire with them to change the course of our social and legal system for our benefit. We believe our laws are elastic; they can be stretched for our special sakes. If we drive through a red light and the police book us, we try to intimidate him through our influence with the local MLA, an assistant commissioner of police or the Chief Minister. If the names fail to impress him we always resort to the bribe, which usually does. We use influence to get our child into school or university, we use influence to get a job, and we use influence to evade taxes. We also use influence in a court of law to get a judgement that was against us over-turned. That’s if we’re fortunate enough to be in the position to influence the right people.
The poor, of course, have no such influence. For them, the law is the law, no matter how twisted out of shape it has become for them. They don’t even have the influence to get their daily necessities of food and clean water. They don’t have the influence to escape their poverty, they don’t have the influence to free themselves from the humiliation of bonded labour, and they don’t have the influence to squeeze justice out of a system far from their reach.
We all hear our politicians pronounce that ‘the law will take its course’. They don’t tell us which course. That depends on their influence.