Hard Knocks: Exposing the big daddies of corruption

18 Nov,2011

By Anil Thakraney


Mumbai Mirror’s cover story on 15/11/11 caught my attention for different reasons. The story involved conflict between a traffic cop and a celebrity nutritionist, and yes, it had to do with petty corruption. Here’s the link: http://www.mumbaimirror.com/article/15/201111152011111



The story reminded me of the one I had done years ago for a tabloid. Dressed as a rich cat, I drove around on the streets of Mumbai breaking every single traffic rule, while being filmed by a battery of photographers. And on every single occasion, I was let off after ‘tipping’ the havaldar. At the time it was a sensational story. I received thousands of happy and angry e-mails. And yes, I was pretty chuffed at having pulled off a ‘big’ story.


However, down the line, I have had a change of heart. I am no longer proud of what I did that day. Sure, some lowly traffic cops got pulled up or were suspended for a bit, but what did the story achieve beyond that? Did anything change? The answer is obvious: No. I now realise there’s no greatness or value attached to exposing the small fry of society. They are sitting ducks, easy to be caught with their hands in the till, and putting them under pressure makes no difference anyway.


Given that, I really think the Indian media as whole must move on from such worthless stories. If we really want to make a difference, we need to go after the big fish. Exposing the big daddies of corruption will make the real difference, as the 2G scandal has shown. There’s another thing, and this is more personal in nature: I am convinced it’s pointless even blaming the small operators in the food chain for being corrupt. When the entire system is so rotten, when corruption is so deeply embedded in this nation, with its tentacles going right to the top, does it really make any sense in punishing the chhota mota chors? Which is why I no longer quarrel with traffic cops, autorickshaw drivers, cabbies, ration card office clerks, municipal office clerks, etc, when they cheat me. I quietly pay them off. Because they are just tiny leaves of the huge corruption tree we have all collectively planted and nurtured.




PS: Totally adore the new Benetton ‘Unhate’ campaign. Controversial, funny, irreverent and very Benetton. But a tad disappointed they ignored the subcontinent. Imagine SM Krishna and Bina Rabbani Khar together? Hmm. That would be heavy!

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