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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Rampant organised extortion

Are only well established gangsters, settled in Karachi, Dubai and metropolises the real dons? Do only the “hafta seekers” in metropolises like Mumbai and Delhi, qualify to be called as the real extortionists? Yes it is true that they are extortionists and criminals whom the people fear and who deserve to be eliminated for the benefit of the society. But is it not true that many Governemnt offices, cutting across state boundaries, with exceptions off course, also act like extortionists? It is a nightmare for an ordinary citizen of this country to approach any governmental agency for getting an approval, registration, license etc. We are all aware of the harassment a simple citizen faces in getting a house registered, getting a driving license, getting a ration card, getting an electrical connection or even a life/death certificate from a government agency. Getting anything done from the Government system is a nightmare. Yet no senior government functionary, a politician or a bureaucrat would take sincere action to set things right as he remains thoroughly insulated from the malaise of the system and therefore has no stake. A common man, not a powerful government servant cannot get any job done within a government system without bribing a government functionary as well as massaging his ego. If you are an entrepreneur, be prepared to adequately take care of a battalion of extortionists under the garb of a variety of government functionaries who shall visit you or make you visit them with amazing regularity. It is as fact that every restaurant owner in the nation’s capital has to keep specified amounts in envelopes every month for the local police, the sales tax guy, collectors from the food department, the municipal authorities and many other leeches of various kinds. And Delhi is one city in India. Just imagine the extortion money only from restaurants. Try getting a gun or a bar license, without giving bribes. Try getting and then executing a big civil contract without being robbed of the fixed percentage. The list is endless. A corrupt breed of men in the garb of government functionaries on a perpetual extortion spree!

Yes there are exceptions. But one has to be either really lucky or really powerful or really rich to bump into one.

Come to think of it. While real extortionists, the official and licensed extortionists, the sarkari functionaries function under the safety of the law, under the garb of officialdom from their official chambers situated in official buildings. The masses look upon these extortionists with awe and pray that their children are able to occupy such seats of power when they grow up. This organized extortion is now an accepted practice with eyebrows being raised only if the extortion becomes unbearable. And the pack of jokers, the corrupt politicians and the officialdom alike who form the bulk of the system have the cheek to talk about development, values, integrity and the nation. Bullshit.

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