This happened a few days ago while I was on my way back from work on my Royal Enfield. It was 3 in the morning and in the service lane along NH-8, I noticed a few cops, not the traffic ones but the regular Gurgaon police. One of them saw my motorcycle and immediately waived for me to stop. The moment he did this, I knew what his intention was.
“Show me your pollution check documents” was his statement the moment my bike came to a halt. He didn’t ask for my driving license, registration or insurance papers but for pollution check because that is one thing which I think every cop in the city know that most bikers won’t have.
“Don’t have it” I replied, straightaway.
“Do you know the chalan is Rs. 1000 for driving without PUC?” He said, making it quite obvious that he was trying to scare me of the outcome. This however I knew he wasn’t lying about. Driving without a PUC in Delhi is indeed a Rs. 1000 penalty on first offense and Rs. 2000 on second.
“And how much will you take for letting me go?” I came straight to the point.
“Rs. 200” Was his answer.
“Too much” I shook my head.
“Rs. 100 and If you say too much now, I will impound your motorcycle” I guess he didn’t like my straight-forward attitude and got annoyed. I did not carry on the conversation any further, took out my wallet, handed him a Rs. 100 note and went on my way.
“Frigging corrupt beggars” I muttered to myself the moment my motorcycle came in motion but these words were immediately followed by a more serious thought, “Why am I blaming him?”
Wasn’t it I who offered him a bribe in order to find an easy way out rather than paying a hefty penalty of Rs. 1000 for my own mistake? He did not ask, though this was indeed his intention but he did not put it in words. It was I who did it so eagerly. If I persisted, he could not have taken a bribe out of me and I could have forced him to write me a chalan, which I very well knew was the right thing to do. If I was such an honored citizen, I should have had all my papers in order and should not have offered a bribe which I knew is a crime per the Indian law.
This wasn’t the first time I was asked for a pollution check certificate. It had happened once before nearly a year ago. Both the times, I got away by paying Rs. 100 to the cop. Despite this, I still did not care to get a PUC certificate. I do not even have an insurance done for my motorcycle so why was I really blaming him? I knew I am supposed to get a PUC certificate, I know I am supposed to carry my insurance documents but I did neither of these. I was caught once violating the traffic laws, bribed my way out and still carried on violating the law for another year. The 2nd time I got caught, I again bribed my way out. What’s more? I was so eager to bribe him that I asked him myself before he demanded anything. In my heart I knew that I was thankful for not having to pay a Rs. 1000 chalan. So was I not at more fault than him? He just broke one law of accepting bribe, but I broke numerous. More than half of the motorcyclists in the city share the same story.
Almost all of us break laws at one time or another and we still blame the cops for not enforcing law. We go on in our daily lives ignoring and violating several laws and at end of the day; it’s the cops that we put the blame on. Question is, when we can chose to ignore a law for our convenience, why can’t they? True it is their job and they have taken up this responsibility but is it also not our moral and social responsibility? They are as human as we are, as common as we are and go through the same common-man problems that we all do. Are we also not corrupt when we step in a government building and offer someone a bribe to get some work done? Is it not true that we offer a bribe ourselves before anyone demands us, to save a few hours of our time? Is it not true that each time we bribe a traffic policeman; we breathe a sigh of relief for not having to pay the heavy penalty? If we know that we can get a job done by just paying some amount of money to someone, we do it with a smile face and more than half of the time, we actually request the other person to accept a bribe. We all know there is an anti-corruption department but how many of us have actually gone ahead and lodged a complaint. None of us would do it because of a simple excuse that we do not want to get involved in a mess and we got our own problems to take care of. People who do lodge a complaint only do it because either the bribe asked is too high or they are still suffering even after paying it.
Truth is that we all have contributed to this system that we call corrupt. Truth is that at one point of time or another, we all take advantage of this corrupt system. When it suits us, we benefit out of it and blame the cops. When it doesn’t suit us, we still blame the cops. We blame them for not able to enforce the law but when they do and if it is of inconvenience to us, we blame them again.
If we broke a law and there is a heavy penalty, let’s say Rs. 2000, would we rather pay that money to honor the law or would we rather just pay the cop a bribe of Rs. 100. If standing in a queue at an administration department, do we ourselves not prefer to pay someone a little so our job can get done quicker and we would not have to stand in the line, waiting? This is a question that we all need to ask ourselves before blaming anyone else. Truth is that not even one of us would let a chance of making easy money pass us by but when we see someone else do it, we call him corrupt.