Legalise bribe as speed money, so said Mr Adi Godrej Chairman of Godrej Industries.Bribe is no longer bribe, it is ‘speed money’, prostitution is selling ‘emotional comfort’ via a commercial transaction, rape is not rape, it is called bleeding the society of weak creatures who are unable to defend themselves by stronger ones who are able to impose their will. Traffic accidents are not accidents caused due to negligence or oversight of laws, it is merely that the machine has a mind of its own and wills the owner to its ways. Wah! Euphemisms are lovely as long as they are literary, used in the printed word. They acquire a cruelty when you use them to subvert something that is obviously unacceptable. And when Mr. Adi Godrej of Godrej industries and Kaushik Basu, chief economic advisor to the Ministry of Finance make these suggestions at the opening session of the annual India Economic Summit of the World Economic Forum, my tongue refuses to move at their capability to be facetious. These are men who know their economics. How does it help to legalise bribes? If bribes were to be legalised, then I would still have to bribe the official to get my work done since I still haven’t paid him haven’t incentivised him enough to do my job that he was supposed to do in the first place in exchange for a salary. So on top of the official fee, official bribe money which is called speed money, I will still have to pay him something under the table that he does not have to issue a receipt for. I was surprised to read that N Narayanamurthy had made the same suggestion. I would very much like to dismiss these ideas as idiotic and an insult to the man on the street (the middle class who has to pay taxes and also bribes).
I would have loved it if these ‘captains of the industry’ has taken a non-compromising, stringent view of bribery that is anyways an integral part of any transaction that is out of the ordinary- house registration, name change in corporation, electricity and water supply meter, various permission one must get from the government. So legalising bribe would be just like heaping one more form of tax on us ordinary folks. This idea is not revolutionary if that is what the Big Guys were aiming for. It is not way a game changer if that is what the Big Guys thought. It is downright silly like a kindergarten child make an outrageous request only to have it turned down in an understanding manner because the child in Kindergarten! But Mr Godrej, Mr. Basu and Mr N Narayanamurthy are no KG kids (it’s a different issue that they might feel they are in Kindergarten and they can do as they feel because they have done their life’s work and it is now time to play, yay!). You idiots, you have to fight bribery not legalise it. You have to fight prostitution and not legalise it thereby sentencing thousands of helpless women to hell.
We need to diss these ideas right away and not give them even an inch for them to take root.
This idea came up in the India Economic Forum where all the ‘important’ people whose last names have synonymous with enormous wealth and power have exhorted the government to end policy paralysis. It couldn’t have been more dichotomous.