(Mr. Shabir Ahmad Sheikh, 33, was born in Kulgam, Kashmir. He completed his schooling from Government Higher Secondary School, Kulgam, and received his Bachelor's degree from the Government Degree College in Anantnag, Kashmir. He is currently employed in the Government service as a teacher in Kulgam. In his leisure time Shabir enjoys reading, and writing poems, short stories, and topical commentaries that are published in local newspapers and magazines.)
Say ‘No’ to Bribe
Jammu and Kashmir State is facing several problems like unemployment, illiteracy and poverty. Among these problems, it is the bribery and corruption that is most grave. Bribery is an outrageous problem and should be treated as newsworthy to set the discourses.
Big scandals and scams of corruption often hit the headlines of media, but daily incidents of bribery in public services seem to be immune to public consternation. It has become an in-house business in department with the officials charging money from the citizens as if it is a legal fee – Rs 500 for state subject, Rs 200 for medical certificate, Rs 1000 for loan approval, Rs 3000 for driving license... so on and so forth. Greasing the palm of public servant has become an unwritten law, a convention in the state.
Not for conscience but to make it easy to speak, bribery enjoys several names such as chai, methai, party. After being served, there is that goodwill handshake that depicts the two – one who offers the bribe and the one who receives the bribe - have common understanding on how things work. A handful of people, who voice against it, end up in serious trouble. Bribery is so pervasive that the whole society takes the unacceptable as normal and finally, it makes common people get used to a certain lawless way of life.
Bribery does immeasurable loss to the national economy. The World Bank ranks bribery among the biggest hurdles to a country’s growth, reducing it by a margin of 0.5 to 10 percent in a year. The root cause of the problem is ineffective law enforcement. As a result, the bribe-taker feels no legal fear. Further, the absence of transparency in applying rules and regulations encourages a public servant to favour those willing to pay. Many people believe that curtains can be dropped if the public servants are not underpaid, overworked and if they are better monitored. Some argue that incentives be given. Bribery can be eliminated by the concerned and responsible actions of citizens only, by their steadfast attitude of saying ‘No’ no matter how they are harassed and instead expose those corrupt officials who demand or expect monetary gain.
In my opinion, the culture of bribery will eliminate when the government tackles it, in all its institutions with zero tolerance attitude. Further, we need to ensure full public awareness about bribery being an exploitative tool used to fleece public.