We are like that only.

What a Sunday! I got my weekly dose of "Outlook" and an article in it prompted this post. After I finished writing the first draft, another article caught my attention and that too has been added as an after thought in this same post.

The first article is by Saikat Datta and gives an interesting insight into the working of India’s RAW (Research and Analysis Wing). It is aptly titled "Spy versus Spy" and talks about the intra departmental rivalries between the IPS (Indian Police Service) officials and the RAS (Research and Analysis Service). The two services between the two of them have apparently been causing a lot of problems within this important part of India’s security establishment.

When I mentioned this to one of my retired Armed forces friends, he told me that this was nothing and went on to elaborate how, these two will gang up at an appropriate opportunity to take on the IAS, the BSF, the Armed Forces, etc and within the bureaucracy and the establishment, there will always be such inter departmental, and inter services rivalries and detrimental politicking. He related the latest instance of how the Rajasthan Police and the IPS, including the CBI blamed the BSF for being corrupt and allowing Bangladeshis to enter India.

He also mentioned how the IAS has always done things to protect its own turf at the cost of other services and pointed out the latest Pay Commission fiasco which has resulted in a lot of unpleasantness in the Armed Forces as well as in the Scientific establishment etc.

The political scene is no less illuminating for its sheer self-centeredness at the cost of the nation’s interest. The drama of the UPA unraveling and political wheeling dealing going on is a spectacle that no Bollywood movie can match for its sheer drama!

The other article is inset by John Mary "25:17…Path Of The Righteous Man" which talks about the crisis in Kerala arising out of text books approved for school children. One cites the example of an instance in a text book where the child of mixed parenthood unable to fill in religion cast etc in an application form, which has been criticized for leaving the children with lasting impressions,of quite what, one is led to imagine.

I had first hand experience of this in Bangalore in 1989. My son Ranjan was seeking admission into the plus two section of a college and required my personal appearance before the Principal to secure it. I rushed only to be informed that the application form as filled in by me will result in Ranjan not getting a hall ticket to write his examinations. The problem was that I had written that Ranjan had no religion or cast. At that point it was true as Ranjan had not made up his mind whether to take up my religion, Hinduism or his mother’s which is Christianity. So, after mutual consultation, Ranjan and I agreed to put in Hinduism as his religion but that left the caste. I joked with the Principal that perhaps I should put it down as Scheduled Caste. He promptly advised me to do so, if I could produce documentary evidence as, a lot of benefits can accrue to Ranjan. I politely declined. When I suggested that it be Nil, the Principal pointed out that while he appreciated my intentions, it would be impractical as the computer would not recognize nil as a caste and would create endless problems for Ranjan. I was beaten by technology and had to put in my caste down.

On a visit to my father in his village home, when I related this story to him, my father, a wise man berated me for having missed an opportunity. He said that it would have been a simple matter for him to have got a certificate issued to me identifying me as belonging to one of the scheduled castes! It would have perhaps cost a few hundred rupees, but it could have been done!

And that brings me to the last part of this post. As I finished writing the above, I checked the latest news and found this which I urge all of you to visit and read.

This is from CNN and I reproduce the first few paragraphs to whet your appetite.

"NEW DELHI, India (CNN) — One out of every three families living below the poverty level in India paid a bribe last year for basic public services, like admitting a family member into a hospital, according to a new report.

The report by Transparency International India and the Center for Media Studies said poor people in India paid about $210 million (9,000 million rupees) in bribes last year to the police, schools, hospitals and power companies.

The bribes were for basic services, the report said: to file a police report, to enroll a child in school, to admit a family member into a hospital or to get electricity turned on.

"This kind of corruption that denies people their entitlement to basic and need based services, many of which may be ‘free’ by law, results in the poor finding themselves at the losing end of the corruption chain," said R. H. Tahiliani of Transparency International India in a statement."