Sunday, July 09, 2006

Rise of Double Standard

When I stepped out of my home for the first time during my college, I had a chance to meet people with different backgrounds (and different cultures too!). The hostel life in college provided ample opportunity to interact with people of various sorts and I began to understand that there is a world beyond books (earlier I was much engrossed in my studies and did not care to interact with people except some of my friends) which is far more intricate and complex and the laws of this world are much more complicated than the simple laws of physics I studied in my school.

After leaving the college I moved to a company to work as a software engineer and I am working there at present. From the college time till now I have met many people of a peculiar kind whom I can describe by the phrase "people of double standards". This does not refer to people "who don't practice what they preach" as you might have guessed, but I would like to use the phrase for people of a more sinister kind. Their evil lies in the fact that most of the people do not recognize them as so and their nature is safely cloaked from view. Their double standard nature is very subtle.

I am referring to people who handle their personal relationships in an entirely different way compared to the way they handle their relationships with the outer world. They behave very nicely in their friend circle, enjoy their time outing with friends, have fun in parties, always have an smiling face and ... (many other features which I leave you to ponder). Viewed this way they look like almost moral/cultured/civilized people.

But when you dig deeper into their lives you find that these are the people who take government official for granted, bribe them to get their work done, break traffic laws and get away with it, evade taxes by using fake bills. They are the people who use their friendly look, appeal and communication skills rather than their work to succeed in their professional life. They deal with the government or strangers in an entirely different way. These are the people who blame government for any damn problem and I guess they would be no better than the current president or prime minister if given the chance.

If they are corrupt in whatever small dealing they have a chance, then they have no right to speak about the government in general. A government is nothing more than a bunch of people elected by us to govern the whole country. And they are no better or worse than the people electing them.

What I really find puzzling is that these people look so nice and good natured in their friend circle. They celebrate birthdays, farewell, exchange gifts, help their friends in need and do many other things expected from a responsible person. I don't understand why the same good nature is not preserved when they deal with the government.

These very people blame the government or the system and speak in such righteous terms that I find myself unable to speak against them. Why does their righteousness vanish in some circumstances? They come from very respected backgrounds and families, have very good education and damn good salaries. They don't need to behave in a corrupt way but they still do.

Let me give you a real example. There was some sick fellow in government ministry who introduced the bill for reservations in educational institutes for OBCs (other backward classes, the term in relevant only in Indian politics). Now that was really a bullshit idea to gain votebank in future elections. There was huge uproar in the country (mostly northern states) against this. Prime example was the strike by resident doctors/students of AIIMS New Delhi.

There was this forum called "Youth For Equality" which you could join and protest against reservations. I did not join them but wished them good luck because they seemed to fighting for a good cause. The government agreed to increase the number of seats so that the people belonging to general (unreserved) category would not suffer. But doctors from AIIMS were not satisfied. The real reason that they don't want more seats is that less number of seats will mean only few good doctors and hence large demand and large salaries for them. (By the way they are right, look at the salaries of engineers because of their increased supply in the country).

After the strike ended the government decided not to pay the resident doctors for the time they were on strike, which I think is perfectly moral. You cannot get paid for doing nothing. These doctors went to Supreme Court to fight against this decision. I lost all faith in them and their protest for a noble cause.

The government and the people who were protesting in the name of "Youth for Equality" seem equally corrupt to me now. Only the effect of government corruption is visible on a much larger scale. If one of these protestants gets into the ministry he will do no better for the country, probably he will do worse because he is much more educated and smart than the current ministers.

To summarize in somewhat philosophical terms, there are people who have a real desire to get the unearned and at the same time they want to be respected as moral citizens which is quite a contradiction in terms. The desire to achieve unearned in matter as well as spirit is the real cause of the Rise of Double Standard.


Blogger Sachin Sharma said...

I think it would be unfair to conclude that doctors did not accept the government's offer of keeping the number of general seats the same because that would have meant a reduction in their salaries. First of all, AIIMS doctors are government employees so they do in fact get paid much less than or equal to what a fresh engineer working in an IT company gets these days. Secondly, the number of doctors in India is so few as compared to that required and even if the number of seats is doubled all across the country, there would be shortage of qualified doctors in the country. It might not be easy to see this situation in the metro cities (even though the situation is not very good) but we just have to look at a government hospital in a second tier city to know the real situation.

You also made a point about people having double standards - while assuming total honesty on the surface, they do not even think twice about paying petty bribes. The reason, as I understand, is the lack of reprisal. In India, most of us are just used to giving bribes so much so that it has become a norm. We don't care of the consequences - that by giving a bribe we're fuelling a fire. On top of that, anyone taking a bribe knows that s/he will not be caught. If the reprisal mechanism is strong that is, the moment someone is caught and tried for committing a crime, the crimes will go lower.

2:03 PM  

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