Widespread, uncontrolled corruption has become a way of life in India. This enemy within should be a bigger worry than keeping terrorism and our war-thirsty neighbours at bay. This is the concluding part of a two part series
The intensity of the problems and fears of the B-rich are extremely complex. The consequences of their mental agony is far deeper and menacing too. To begin with, everything in their corrupt life looks rosy. The easy money helps in living comfortably and compensates for the shortage of hard-earned money. But when more easy money starts flowing in, trouble starts almost unknown to the family. Not only the B-rich, but his or her entire family slowly goes into a spin due to easy access to lots of unearned money. Insatiable greed engulfs their lives. Money takes centre stage. Family values erode. The woman of the house either joins in or keeps worrying continuously.
The corrupt head of the family soon becomes involved in prayers and rituals, seeking gurus and visiting temples by day and dance bars by night. There is a cultural decline. Soon alcohol in bars fails to intoxicate sufficiently. When he sees pretty young women, he gives in to temptation. He soon finds a concubine. Money finds yet another outlet. He is now bothered by the fear embedded deep in his mind - the fear of being caught. For some time, he manages to silence the woman of the house with bribes of jewellery, but she soon realises his game. Marital peace vanishes and moral support at home evaporates.
Initially, relations flock around the B-rich, some with admiration and some harbouring jealousy. Some expect financial help, and so a sense of superiority sets in. One starts looking down upon relations. Many of the relatives start hating this attitude and relationships sour. Restlessness takes its toll in a variety of ways. The problems of the poor are situational, but the problems of the B-rich are self-inflicted. Time and again, it is seen that the fear of man’s dark side and the greed for more make the B-rich turn to a temple, mosque or church. Lack of moral learning makes him seek solace in religious blind faith. Even there, he attempts to bribe his God with money rather than pray. Finally, the greedy lifestyle, alcohol abuse, sexual adventures and unsettled mind result in deteriorating physical and mental health.
The biggest impact of this black poison is on their growing children. Most lose respect for hard work and learning. Such an environment is conducive for laziness and lust. There is a decline in morality. Children react depending on the friends and teachers they have. The morally inclined lose all respect for the father, and soon hate and disgust overwhelm them. Family woes start piling up. Other children take the cue. Education means nothing, scoring high marks looks meaningless. Easy money makes them attractive prospects and they join the gangs of local goons. Local goons, in their super white attire and white shoes, displaying multiple chunky gold chains on their unbuttoned bare chest, catch these vagabonds and make them their young lieutenants. Money soon takes control of everyone in the family rather than the family controlling it.
Studies show that in spite of their easy money, B-rich families slowly deteriorate morally, culturally and emotionally. Hard sincere work in their life gets replaced by an easy life. The easy money earner gets bolder and arrogant in his behaviour. Materialistic affluence makes the family greedy and venturesome on the one hand, and fear of being caught makes them unsettled and confused on the other. Self-inflicted mental tension and unhealthy lifestyle leads to physical and mental health problems like high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes etc. Further, tension arises due to their pitiable efforts to hide their fears and weaknesses.
Saint Vinobaji Bhave, in his discourses in Marathi, highlights the distinction between Prakruti (Natural life), Sanskruti (Culture) and Vikruti (unnatural behavioural distortion) with a most appealing example. He says, "If you are hungry and you eat a roti, it is prakruti. If you find a hungry person sitting next to you and if you first feed him half of the roti you had, then it is sanskruti. And if you disregard and eat all by yourself without sharing with the needy person, it is vikruti.” If Vinobaji was amongst us today, he would have indeed lost faith in humanity.
World renowned psychologist, Dr Dick Millar, called this affliction as 'Affluenza'! According to his research, excess ill-gotten money, either black or white, drives men and women to indulge in immoral behaviour. In this context, it would be interesting to see the famous Hollywood movie, 'The Wolf of Wall Street'. Money, he observes, makes people self-centred. Sometimes it manifests into inhuman actions. They believe and try to even buy happiness with money. When they fail, they lose their sanity and try to get it by force. Criminality sets in.
As against this, a common hardworking person though not well off, conducts himself thoughtfully and in total resonance with the society, he or she lives in. This morally endowed person finds it necessary for their peace and safety. Social research conducted by the University of Berkeley shows that the B-rich, in many cases rising up from the middle class, display contempt for the poor and are arrogant and rude in their approach. The horsepower of their newly acquired cars enter their shoulders as they drive through pedestrian crossings or jump red lights, much to the chagrin of pedestrians and other motorists. Come to think of it, a research scholar in the Tata Institute of Social Research could easily earn his doctorate by conducting a similar study on the behavioural tendencies of the B-rich in India today.
For many of us, the decline of values and rapid increase in those leading self-centred lives is a cause for concern. Globally, rising moral decline is castigated, but in India, widespread, uncontrolled corruption has become a way of life. It is dangerous and is corroding the social and moral fabric of our country. This enemy within should be a bigger worry than keeping terrorism and our war-thirsty neighbours at bay.
I conclude by narrating an interesting observation from a friend of mine who retired as the head of a highly rated research laboratory. During the last two decades, the jewellery stores in Bandra and other prime localities in Mumbai have grown faster than any other retail outlet. With a small team, covering a period of three months, he studied patterns of people visiting these jewellery stores. He found that over two-third of these were government servants including bureaucrats, police officers, BMC staff and revenue officers. The remaining one-third comprised of businessmen, medical doctors, and corporate honchos. I wondered briefly, as to why our government, which has vowed for a corruption-free society, does not question and arrest these corrupt buyers as they step out of the jewellery stores. Then I woke up to reality; you cannot expect a thief to catch a thief!
(PS Deodhar is founder and former chairman of the Aplab Group of companies. He is also the former chairman of the Electronics Commission of the Government of India and was an advisor to late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on electronics. He also was the chairman of the Broadcast Council in 1992-93 that set in motion the privatisation of the electronic media with metro channels.)