Saturday, July 2, 2011

Transparent Communities, Transparent Government

There is so much of discussion continuing, and people planning go on fast if the anti corruption bill, known as the Lokpal Bill is not stringent enough, and if it is not passed by the parliament. I have some primary questions to be raised before we plan to stop millions being swindled. The patrons of anti-black money and anti-corruption bill need to pay attention to this.

Let us take simple two examples of two small towns in India: Raiganj, the place I worked for over 6 years; it has a population of about 150,000, and Bolpur - Santiniketan, the place of the national poet Rabindranath Tagore, and the eminent economist Amartya Sen--both Nobel laureates. The town has a population of over 250,000. Let us look at the vegetable market and the rickshaw pullers of these two towns as an example. The vegetable market in Bolpur must be having a minimum turn over of not less than 50,000 rupees a day, and Raiganj would have about 50,000 as well, because it has a bigger wholesale marketing system as well, being closer to lots of villages cultivating vegetables. So, on any given day these two towns alone have a turn over of not less than 100,000 rupees. And, believe me, never has any one asked for a bill from any of the vendor, whether it was a purchase for 10 rupees or for 1000 rupees. The maximum you would get from a bigger shop would be a small piece of paper with a scribble of the amount on it. Let us say, in a year only for 300 days these markets are open. These two towns alone make a turn over of 30 million rupees (3 crores) in royal black. Now, count the number of towns and cities in India-- you would never end up counting the the amount that goes unaccounted.

Let us look at the rickshaw pullers in these two towns. Raiganj has about 150 rickshaws on an average on road, and Bolpur has about 250 on road on any given day. Any rickshaw puller would agree that on an average they make not less than 100 rupees a day. So, 400 rickshaws x 100 rupees is equal to 40,000 a day, and 330 days of rickshaws running in a year would result in 13.3 million rupees changing hands in black. Well, no one asks a rickshaw puller to issue tickets or bills.

I have taken two raw examples, leaving aside the bigger ones to show how we promote black money at every level. This money has to be spent. Black begets more black. And that is the father of larger corruption. (Mother is the human crave for more!)

So, we must have simpler solutions. I shall explain some of them in my next blog.

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