Thursday, August 30, 2007

Who the hell cares?

a quick glimpse at corruption in Arunachal

-by Roto Chobin

Until a few years ago, corruption particularly in the job market is unheard of. But by the end of twentieth century, it has taken a shape of epidemic form in Arunachal. And the rot is so deep-rooted that I can see no way out. As of now, according to BBC report, Arunachal is most corrupted state in Indian subcontinent. If we look for the reasons that engender the corruption, the first and foremost thing that comes to mind is the absence of industrial development and private enterprise. For most of the people in the state, enterprise means retail shop - to rent a premise and pile it up with couple of stuff here and some more stuff there. Lo and behold! You have become an entrepreneur in hinterland called Arunachal Pradesh. And having said that I cannot disaffirm the Hobson’s choice we have been offered. Even if one wishes to make a foray as an entrepreneur, there’s virtually no fund at all to help the person with perfect credentials except “the deficient Prime Minister Rozgar Yojana (PMRY) fund”. Who gets the PMRY loan and how the beneficiary uses it - is another story. Under the PMRY scheme, a person is granted a loan of Rs. 100, 000/- (1 lakh) through State Bank of India for which a person has to produce more than a dozen document. Earlier a person could take a loan up to Rs. 200, 000/- (2 lakhs), but this provision had been scrapped from this scheme since long. So when everything is attained, we think and assume that the beneficiary will get a sum of Rs. 100,000 and would start a new career. But it wasn’t so as one of the PMRY beneficiaries told me that the bank staffs normally deduct some money for processing the loan. My head spun. So, I asked, “How much did you get then?” “Around 80 grand if I don’t subtract the travel and other expenses” he told me and added “with this amount one cannot even think of starting a business properly. I don’t want to add up another grocery store to existed multitudes of grocery shop. I regretted taking this loan.” I told him that at least he was lucky to get it. I reminded him of hundreds and hundreds of graduates and post graduates student who is languishing without aid. I believe, most of us don’t ever hear of any other fund aside from PMRY if any. If the politician of our state had any concern for young generation, they could have arranged and set aside a fund from Apex Bank of Arunachal. But what they did was – to swindle the depositor and approving a grant of loan (since the dealings in Arunachal do not materialize until the minister nod in agreement) to their relatives and henchmen, and ultimately they made the bank defunct. Moreover, instead of recovering the bad loan from defaulter, they begged money to revive Apex Bank. The NHPC provided two hundred and twenty five crores of rupees to state government for this purpose (see also Revival Package for Apex Bank…… ) which seemed to me as the NHPC with this money has put a yoke on Arunachal. With no option opened to educated class, the scores of people rushed and still rushing towards service sector to join government job.

As a result, the demand for the government job has soared very high. Now, for every vacant post, there are uncountable candidate who vie for job. Paradoxically; in past years, circa 1951, I’m told that there used to be plethora of job but the workforce were so scarce that the people from Apatani villages were coerced to work for government against their will as it happened while leveling a land for an airfield at Old Ziro. Even in the eighties, jobs were given merely by seeing the pass certificate from high school and it lasted until around 1996. Then, before one could say Jack Robinson, the picture of job scenario started to look grim and entire job opportunities went into hibernation. And it instantly appears as the economic liberalization of 1990s was the cause, but it wasn’t. The liberalization, privatization and globalization of economy have little to do with Arunachal, its government and their machinery. I was in the final year at college when Arunachal Pradesh Civil Services (APCS) advertised some administrative job in 1996 which was to resurface after a lapse of six years in 2001. I dare not to apply for second time - for fear of parting with my hard earned pocket-money. Later on, I heard so many malicious tales about the exam that I thanked God profusely for sparing me the exam. Whatever the fact may be, they (APCS) still owe me my money that I sent to them during my college days in the form of Indian Postal Order (IPO). Similarly, three years ago, I applied for the vacant post that was advertised by Civil Secretariat in the local daily. I remitted my entire photocopied academic certificate with attestation (attestation of your certificate by gazette officer [sic] is a must in Arunachal if, by any chance, you’re applying for a job in Arunachal) from first class officer, passport size photograph and the fee as well. But I was never intimated regarding the interview they were supposed to conduct nor did I hear anything about rescheduling or cancellation of that interview. It seemed to me as if they had duped me again. Not only me, but thousand of candidates out there. I possibly had gave Rs. 45/- as examination fee. And perhaps there were more than thousand aspirants who applied for that post. So if we multiply 1000 by 45, the figure we get is 45,000 which mean we have been robbed of Rs. 45,000 before our very eyes. There could be many more such scam that had managed to give my eyes a slip. Besides, no one opposed, and life goes on.

At present, working in a government department is being seen as part of privileged and fortunate class. Hence, everyone wants to have a share of cake. Why? I suppose, the security of monthly salary in government job is secondary things for most. The government job is so tempting because of the power that comes with government job. With prestige and power comes a helluva lot of money in Arunachal, especially for engineering department. But the nepotism (sifarish, as they say in Hindustani language) plays a pivotal role in the process of gobbling up the jobs. And the deserving candidature often lay off in this process which, I think, will affect the functioning of administration sooner or later in the entire state. I am least worried about the brilliant and talented student; as they will find a niche for themselves one way or other. So what should the not-so-deserving candidature do? Grease the palm of bureaucrat at top echelon and politician, of course. Thus, the people are ready to cough up a huge amount of money even for some lowly position. In doing so, they prompt corruption and take it to a new height, and they themselves sink deep down in the quagmire of corruption - become a part of vicious circle - where they in turn want to regain their money manifold and quickly by resorting to fradulent, easy and corrupt means. I came across quite a few people who pawn their little belongings for money - to pass on as kickbacks to authorities. The kickbacks could be anywhere from Rs. 300,000 (three lakhs) to Rs.1, 200,000 (twelve lakhs). I'm afraid the demand and supply of kickbacks will go higher and higher in near future.

Everyone including our politician is aware of the rot and unequivocally speaks of curbing and eliminating it. Even Mr. Dorjee Khandu, chief minister of Arunachal, has been speaking of corruption-free state and abolishing the corruption in the state. I don’t know how. He didn’t say how. If he really apprehends the rot around him, he himself had to come clean and set an example for his ministers, and then incarcerates (Has the proposed jail been built? Maybe, Arunachal is the only state in India that doesn’t have a jail) all those from clerk to top bureaucrat and politician who is gorging themselves on fund meant for infrastructural development. To preach is easy – nowadays, even a five year old kid can give a lecture on corruption and how it affects our lives. Moreover, the ministers (politicians) are in no position to preach to us about corruption. Do you think the central government should be allowed to wash their hands from these sordid businesses? I don’t think so. I have accused the central government in my previous article (What is the cost of Arunachal?) for fattening the coffer of ministers and their enforcement arms. And I will accuse them over again and again as long as they will not monitor how the money (remnants, though), pumped from central government, is used in Arunachal Pradesh. Doesn’t it indicate that the politicians are being allowed to plunder freely? And then, there is ‘us’ who instead of opposing these mal-practices take refuge in oft-repeated phrase – “corruption is a way of life.” And ‘some’ would go too far to show admiration and respect as if the bribe-takers are not a criminal but a hero. In a way, we are becoming more and more reconciled to the corrupt state of affairs. As a result, there’s no more fear, and ghastly deeds are committed openly albeit a little shamefacedly. Let me cite an instance; last year, in November, I went to DIPRO office to collect the temporary permission to publish ZIRO MIRROR. A lady who was holding my letter asked me for largesse. It stunned me for a moment. I asked her, “Didn’t you get a salary?” After a while, I told her that letter she had in her hand is a permission to write and report the public of irregularity. And I could write about her and the incident. She went red in the face and handed me my permit.

The corruption in job-market is just the tip of the iceberg but as massive as other bureaucratic and political corruption. The menace of corruption is here to stay unless people at all level stop glorifying bribe-takers as a hero. Moreover, if we ceased to be dependent wholly on the government, and if trained personnel like engineer and doctor would start their own workshops and business. That may not bring an end to the menace of corruption, but that could certainly break the immunity of the people at the top echelon. Who knows! It may bring the corruption to an end in the long run. The future (to build or ruin the society) is in our hands.


  • Raka

    I have to shamefacedly accept that I contributed Rs25,000/- towards the Rs50,000/- bribe that the Education Department boss was asking to give Temporary posting as JT to a family member.
    Another Rs 50,000/- was paid after 6months to make it permanent.
    We had no choice cos' he was selling it in first come -first serve basis without interview with limited seats(he said so).

    Now the good news: He was diagnosed with cancer shortly afterwards.

  • AG

    I guess that was quite natural thing to do.

    When it comes to the future of your near and dear ones somehow you succumb to such malpractices after all you don't want to be blamed for the future of your near and dear ones, right! This is how our society runs.

    But had it been for you or me I guess we wouldn't have bribed to secure a job and infact I did that. I was asked by my near and dear ones to approach the minister or to arrange money for me for securing a job when I got through the written test. But I declined saying that it would be the departments and ultimately the states loss and not mine if they didn't select me. But had it been for my near and dear ones I guess, I would have done the same thing as you did thereby encouraging corruption.

    And now I'm happy that I'm not the part of the system. Had I been the part of the system it would be hypocritical of me to write about the issues in my blog. Isn't it!

  • ango

    well.. thats the saddest part of our lives...

    if there are guys like you...then theres nothing that can stop our state from coming out of the darkness that it is in...

    am preparing for my apcs mains...and there are concerns running around in my town...some doubtful of me getting through.. the reason that they provide is...its all going to be a game of paisa vasool...

    i've still not lost preparing for the exams with the faith that public service commission will do its work responsibly...i feel that hardwork and merit will count one day...

    hope that the best and deserving ones get through the exams..even if am not one among them...

  • yasiyalow

    Hi Ango,
    There is no denying the fact that money canges hands during appsc and other recruitment drives in Arunacahl Pradesh. However, hard work and sincerity will carry you through appsc. No matter, how corrupt the system is, there is no substitute for hard working, sincere and focussed person. Dont get distracted and discouraged by such talks. Money speaks in lots of places, but it can not speak in all places, all the time and on every occasion. There is a rot in he system, but it is not thoroughly rotten. In the end of the day, what will count is your effort and what your heart tells you in the silence of night when you are contemplating. m Gud Luck Ango

  • AG

    @ ango,

    yasiyalow has elaborated quite well on how our system is. But, nevertheless, don't loose your heart 'cos I too, do believe that hard work and merit do count finally.

    All the good luck and best wishes for your APPSC exams.

  • Rome Mele

    Hi Cho,
    Thats the pain we Arunachali will have to face for,atleast most of the part our lives... and there is every reason this phase will grow more pronounced in the coming years. Thats a harrowed view, but, my worst fear. And unarguably thats the prime reason, students studying outside(of AP) don't want to come back, and most of the time exceptions being the Civil engrs graduates. Cause, Arunachal still has years to go for building up the houses and bridges, but not the other technological part of the Information technological revolution or other entrepreneurial forays, an ubiquitous phenomenon world wide.
    You pointed out right, only entrepreneurship thing an arunachali can think of , are the shops and rent houses they can lease out. Thats the sad part of being a subsided spectator of India shining hype and hoopla.
    God bless AP.

  • christina

    well...have a look at APCS results.09.. i felt so pity when one of my own relative commented.." i wish i could know whom to give the money ,i would have sold all our ancestral property and somehow managed..!

  • AG


    What a negative thought, I would say. Instead of buying job selling the ancestral property I would recommend investing the money in some other businesses and I guess that would be more profitable in a long run. ;)

Post a Comment