- Bribe Fighter
- 9 years ago
- 5131 views
I went to register a flat in 1999. I was an NRI "fresh off the boat" so to speak. I was warned that I would need to pay a bribe of about 30 to 40 thousand. Anyhow I met the gentleman in charge and he asked me to wait. As I waited I realized that people would come to register and they offered the cash before it was asked for. It was quite open and blatant and as I was seated in his small office I could not help seeing it. In retrospect, it might have been his way of educating me to "the way" to function in India.
After about an hour he asked me to go away and come back an hour later. This went on for several cycles. Each time I came back I was asked to go away and come back after an hour. When I came back at 5pm, I was asked to come back at 6pm. I politely asked him if he would be there. I was seated across the desk from him and he was a big man who rose and told me I would need to pay him five thousand rupees in a somewhat menacing voice. I told him I would insist on paying ten thousand rupees - five thousand from him to the Kargil Fund and five thousand from me.
To his credit,he felt ashamed - at least for the moment - and said he did not want the money but it was his boss who insisted on it. I then assured him that I would be very happy to give another five thousand from his boss to the Kargil fund. He asked me to come back the following morning.
When I came back with a cheque for Rs. 15,000 to the Kargil Fund, I asked him for his name and his boss's name so I could add it to the letter. He told me that would not be necessary and handed me the initial document accepting the submission.
The story did not end there. I went back for some work overseas and found on my return that the Khata had not been sent to my home address. I went back to the office and was told it had been sent from the Indira Nagar office. I went and checked and found it had indeed been sent. On further inquiry I learned that it had gone presumably to the Museum Road office for the purpose of sending it on from there. The staff in that office were very cooperative and over the period of a few days confirmed that it had never been received.
I went back to the Registration Office and met the boss who told me that he could do nothing about this. I asked him if he had anything else to do with his life other than work. He was surprised and said "of course". I assured him that from that moment on, my only purpose would be to make his personal life hell on earth and explained to him several ways in which I would proceed to do it. He was shaking uncontrollably at the end of it and asked me to wait.
A few minutes later he brought out the envelope and withdrew the Khata. It appeared to have been retrieved somehow from the neighbourhood post office. He then told me he was in a quandary as he could not give it to me and had to post it. By this time I was in no mood to accept any further nonsense. He called an intermediary who then told me he would give it to me but they would need to send an envelope with old newspapers in it as that was the process and begged that I would not use that against them.
I took my Khata, gave them the assurance and left.
It was an interesting exercise that I could go through because I was in a position to be able to spare the time. Its important to note the nexus between the registration department and the neighbourhood post office.
In the 12 years I have been here, I do not think I have paid any bribe of significance, but I am sure I have paid for bribes that lawyers and others have paid on my behalf. The trick is in having the time to wear out the corrupt. They are used to money being offered before its demanded. In the earlier instance, just waiting brought the demand down to Rs 5000.