India 2020: Dealing With Corruption
Indeed, discussions about private morality sounds 'utopian', but then 'utopian' has become a catch all term for all that is worth doing but not easy to do. I shall argue that it is quite practical to make private pledges - that I shall not give or take bribes or favours, I shall recognise and carry out my professional responsibilities with integrity, that I shall not let my behaviour be influenced if others around me behave differently and that I shall treat everyone as equal citizens - and make an effort in keeping them. And, the usual excuse that if you drive properly and maintain lane discipline, other people will overtake you, falls apart as a reason for not maintaining lane discipline and driving improperly. However, this is a difficult thing to do because this would expose the inherent hypocracy of our approach to corruption: We love to see it as a political thing, but when we ourselves cross the lines, it is always for a reason. This moral relativism is supported by our modern construct of Hinduism, where we boast about being flexible and treat moral relationships as one of paying off the Gurus.
Where this is 'utopian' is to expect the media to promote private morality. Such movements, and surely such attitudes form into movements, usually germinate at the private level, a small group of people started practising it. Such private movements can be started by people coming together with a commitment to the ethical practice of daily life. I am an optimist, but beyond my usual sunny vision of life, there is clear historical evidence that such movements happen, life gets better. Hindus in fact believe that when life becomes unbearable, an Avatar, Kalki this time, will appear: And, then, use the beautiful but self-defeating logic that 'everything will be alright in the end; if it is not alright, it is not the end'. The causation in History works in reverse, though: Social movements do not start with the appointed person, even a God's reincarnation. It rather starts with private persons, you and me, choosing to put ourselves on the line, accepting that the responsibility of setting things right is on us, and we must not wait till the end. I remain optimistic about India and Indians, and their deep practical sense, uncorrupted by mythical indoctrination and modern privileges, and believe that such a social movement is about to start. The conversations I hear on the streets of India gives me that sense, of despair yes, but also, at times, of initiative. It is on that hope, on those small, very private, efforts, I shall hang my hat: It is not the appearance of an Avatar, but the arrival of the common man which we are indeed waiting for.