Thursday, August 25, 2011

Who is Corrupt?

Sourabh Thakur dissects the inherent hypocrisy surrounding the Anna Hazare Anti-Corruption Movement!

Am I corrupt? Yes I am. I put up a certain self-image in society to gain acceptance, money and power. I lie to my loved ones, protecting my self-image on the pretext of not hurting their feelings. I curb my anger in public to protect that image. I curb all the corrupt thoughts, lie to myself just to get a self-proclaimed label of a nice human being. Even my honesty comes with a carrot of an ego boost or spirituality.

If I am caught drinking and driving, I pay a little money to get away. I try to avoid paying duty while carrying my expensive camera or laptop back home. I produce fake documents to reduce my taxes. I jump waiting lines whenever I can. I use pirated software. I pay my maid a piddly amount of money while I make big bucks myself. I take advantage of situations for my own good. I manipulate situations. I do emotional blackmailing. I use influential people in my life to get things done for me. I like free stuff.

If I am a father I bribe my kids to get good marks in exams. I bribe my dog to be a good dog (whatever that is). If I am a kid I bribe my parents by being a good kid. If I am a political party I bribe you with progress, protection and such vague stuff. If I am a religion I bribe you with god / nirvana / heaven to become good human beings. I even bribe god for good things to happen in my life. And most of the time I am bribing myself.

If I am a CEO I can draw huge amount of moolah for myself, as I deserve it. If I want engineering seat I don’t mind paying donation, but at the same time condemn those who come from quota because they don’t deserve it. If I am a cricketer I can take money to influence match results. If I am a doctor I can get commission from pharmaceuticals to prescribe their drugs. If I run a newspaper I can take fee to publish certain news and suppress others. If I am a cop I can take money to register your FIR. If I am in advertising I can make money by lying to people about my product and trying to feed their fears. If I am an armyman I can rape powerless tribal women, and if I have permission I kill the men. If I am a multinational company I can make huge profits while running sweatshops. If I am a manager I can work to increase my company’s profit, with little regard about people working under me, while protecting my own personal life. If I earn hugely disproportionate amount of money compared to majority of the world I can give some of it as a charity and go gaga over my divine intentions. If I am social activist I can honestly work for social welfare while tirelessly filling my pockets with foreign funding.

I am corrupt in different degrees in different situations according to the circumstances and my capacity. More the power I have, more the capacity to be even more corrupt. I am corrupt in the context of nature, world, nation, society, family and friends or just pure moral self. I am corrupt for money, status, acceptance, praise, power, pleasure, love, sex, nirvana, god, self-image, ego etc etc.

I live in a society where we need laws so that we don’t cheat each other. We need police so that we don’t kill each other. We need armies so that we don’t destroy our civilizations. We need democracy to tell us that we are all equal. We need false identity of a nation so that we can unite each other. And we need government to take care of all this and more for us, because if left on our own we desire attached power hungry selves would destroy everyone and everything around us. So we elect few amongst us, who seem capable or more like who promise to fulfill our hopes and dreams and visions, to run things for us. We give them power to run things for us and with that capacity to be more corrupt. We expect them not to take advantage of the powers that they have got while I continue to be corrupt in my own capacity. So I want to elect another mortal amongst us to police them, who will be totally honest, or create a system, which will not allow him to be otherwise.

How and who are to choose such a person or create such a system? Who has such a keen understanding of human psychology to elect a person with all good intentions and honesty? If there can be such a system why isn’t it employed to elect the leader itself. And if this police become corrupt after all this, which is more likely looking at the history, are we to invent another police to police them?

So I feel like a hypocrite shouting out against corruption, just because it is of a larger proportion and context. Who is to draw this imaginary line and where? Everybody have their own justifications for doing right or wrong things. I don’t want this unending loop of policing. I don’t want another hero who can change others. I want to change myself.

Sourabh Thakur is a Designer/Photographer and lives in Calcutta. You can checkout his Tumblr profile here.

FireFighting a Global Warming Duel

Daily news continues to roll in with regard to global warming and weather change especially but international and national policymakers remain unsure of both its veracity and consequences. Information that supports the theories of eco-alarmists and environmental skeptics alike seem to pepper the airwaves, while news of bush fires in Australia and devastating floods in India only aggravate the issue. To add to the barrage, I recently read that an internationally funded Weather satellite has just been tasked to exclusively study the melting of ice that sits atop the North Pole, allowing researchers to watch the movement of ice in great detail for the first time (yes, apparently first time). And the borders of Italy and Switzerland have to to reworked due to the melting icepeaks!

This issue that the human industrial presence was causing an unprecedented rise in global temperatures sparked a lively discussion among 2 of my close friends who are also involved in this area but in diametrically opposite fields. One is a researcher at a Greencetric NGO that actively hunts environmental violations by corporates and fights it out in courts while the other is a lawyer who coincidentally represents these corporate baddies. I played the firefighter albeit with a green bias and got to hear interesting arguments.

For my attorney pal, he dismissed the alarmist point of view and argued that nature needs to be harnessed. With regard to ice melting at the poles and the Italian-Swiss borders, he felt we could gather scientific data before jumping to political conclusions. Just because a wacky global warming activist misrepresents scant satellite information for her own visionary schemes, he felt there was no reason to go off half-cocked and ban the global internal combustion engine.

He complained that there were too many people who wanted social change at all costs, such as those who released urban bred animals to certain death in the forests rather than use them to warm our bodies or fill our stomachs, those who would rather leave millions starve for water than let build a dam and those who preach about poverty alleviation, govt negligence but themselves don’t pay the tax. Hmmm!

Even if the ice was indeed melting at the poles, he argued that we needed to avoid the divisive rhetoric of the eco-radicals in dealing with it, if we need to deal with it at all. After all, he felt there has been far more damage to forests from Mother Nature’s rains and floods than harvesting by loggers would ever cause. And responsible loggers replant with a constructive purpose; nature still needs to be harnessed. Mother Nature doesn’t think, and often environmentalists and global warming worrywarts don’t take time for that either. He stated both needed to be challenged when they run amuck.

After my lawyer pal was through downing almost a full bottle of Smirnoff, my eco-warrior buddy made his case for caution in our overconsumption and overcopulating ways.

Mother Nature, as you say, “needs to be harnessed” because we as a species have this mistaken notion that our running amuck is a “natural” Progression. If we hadn’t been so arrogant as to think plopping down 7 billion people on this planet wouldn’t have adverse effects on the climate, ecology, etc. then we’d understand that losing 200,000 acres of forest to wild fires isn’t that big a deal – or wasn’t till we reduced our forests to such a small tiny mass. We’d rather believe that this planet can get along fine with very limited populations of all species except our own.

Sure, the ecosystem is very large and not all effects are felt immediately; however, the belief that our present course of action won’t result in the destabilization of said system and the destruction of the planet as we know it - is the same stupidity and lack foresight and judgement which resulted in so many our children being born deformed due to their parents either exposed or/ of drinking contaminated water and food. He added that everyone wanted to believe that if it looks good two years down the road, then there are no worries… but as we all now know, that’s a big mistake and too big a gamble to risk this planet.

After hearing this loud verbal duel, I was left with enough food for thought of my own that I couldn’t declare a verdict nor present my personal view to this hugely gigantic issue. Mankind I realized needed a much bigger, collective and gargantuan firefighter for this burning problem and I was just a small fry. Really small indeed.

- Websnacker is a blogger/bootlegger from Antartica