The legalization of corruption
Corruption is a blight on society in our country. Every day, crores of rupees are sunk into the black hole of bribes, large and small. Corruption causes untold suffering to all sorts of Indians, from jet-setting billionaires to the man on the street. It is a disease that impedes the progress of India's march towards true prosperity. It has the effect of dragging everything down, like Abhishek Bachchan in a movie with an otherwise decent cast. Or Yuvraj Singh on an escalator.
However, there's a simple way to eliminate the ill-effects of corruption, and actually make it contribute positively to society. All we need to do is make it legal. Change our laws to ensure that corruption is a practice that can be undertaken perfectly legally, after one obtains the necessary licenses from the Government. Simple.
Licenses can be given to anyone who meets the eligibility criteria (general sleaziness, ethical flexibility, ambiguous morals) and is willing to pay the license fees. The fees can be fixed in slabs, in accordance with the magnitude of the proposed corruption. Getting a license to accept bribes for handing out minor documents such as driving licenses or university degrees would be relatively inexpensive, when compared to getting a license that will permit you to award high-value mining, telecom or infrastructure contracts in exchange for monetary gains.
The sale of 'corruption licenses' alone would generate so much money for the exchequer, it would make A Raja look like a cop who just accepted a twenty rupee bribe to overlook a traffic-signal violation. And that's just for starters. Legalizing corruption means that you can tax it directly - resulting in seriously big income for the Government, freeing them up financially so they can ditch hare-brained schemes such as the NREGA and focus on building important stuff such as hideous statues of political figures, ugly memorials to great people and private roads for everyone.
And I haven't even mentioned the huge savings that would come from the shutting down all the various vigilance and anti-corruption cells, which would be rendered superfluous.
The beauty of this idea is that it is completely foolproof. Of course, any license-based system is vulnerable to being exploited by corrupt officials, but since, under the new rules, corruption itself would be quite legal, these unscrupulous elements would be in a fix. They would be thoroughly flummoxed, like so many ants trying to find the end of a Moebius Strip by marching steadfastly in one direction. Anyone looking to take bribes to award 'corruption licenses' would have to obtain a license themselves first. Licenses all the way up. Elegant, effective and infinitely recursive. All Government policy should be like that.
In fact, going forward, why stop at corruption? This policy can be extended to include extortion, goondaism, blackmail, forgery, perjury, and eventually, all of crime itself. This isn't as abhorrent as it sounds. So many activities that should be illegal are permitted by Indian law. We still allow crazies to run villages according to their whims and fancies. We still allow all manner of perfectly legal discrimination based on caste, religion and community. We still allow Ram Gopal Verma to make films.
Don't get me wrong - I'm not arguing that these things should be outlawed or anything. They are all wonderful examples of how stuff that would be illegal in most modern, liberated societies work extremely well in making India a strong and functioning democratic society. I'm just saying that there are so many other activities that, if legalized, can serve the same useful purpose.
Legalizing crime would also ensure that those pesky agencies which publish annoying reports about 'global crime rates' would be forced to declare India as 'completely crime-free'. This would boost our international image, make countries like Germany pale in comparison, and help tourism. People who are too terrified to visit South Africa because of the high crime rate would flock to Bihar instead. Think of the impact this would have on our economy.
The approach I'm suggesting isn't even new. It has been in existence in various forms for years, being called, among other things, "Moving the goalposts", "Lowering the bar", "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" "Never mind the footwork, look at the score" and "Modern Dance is brilliant - you just don't understand it".
Like all of you, I, too, dream of India as a Utopian society, free of crime, injustice and evil. To achieve this, we must turn our weaknesses into strengths.
Anand Ramachandranm, who is a writer, comics creator and video game designer