The writer is the project coordinator for a
Let us clean the stables, now that the feet of clay of so many have been exposed. Let us separate the cream from the scum, the chalk from the cheese and the gold from the brass.
All problems in our country seem to stem from possessing excessive wealth, wanting to possess excessive wealth and shamelessly striving to possess excessive wealth even if we have to sell our soul for this purpose.
There was a time when flaunting wealth was considered to be in bad taste. Those born even with the proverbial silver spoon in their mouths dressed and lived in elegant taste, playing down their riches and showing it by their mannerism and grooming instead of their flashy cars or designer clothes, specifically if people of their country were living in abject poverty literally on their doorsteps. The show of wealth was considered the trait of upstarts, not a habit of people belonging to good families.
There was a time when those who had earned only honest living and lived simply and frugally felt proud of their way of life and looked with scorn at others who led flashy lives with ill-gotten wealth.
The men in khaki particularly prided themselves in living simply even when they reached the highest ranks. Their lifestyle clearly and proudly indicated that they had led a life of austerity, clean and untainted. They were judged by their professional brilliance rather than the size of their houses or the wealth they had amassed.
There was a time when retired generals of repute lived (and sometimes even died) in rented rooms in the services club or small apartments. None of them lived in palatial houses that raised eyebrows even of their subordinates.
There was a time when a senior officer visited a unit, the commanding officer would show him the state of professional readiness of his men, not the decor of the guest rooms he had furnished.
The begums of senior army officers confined their talents and expertise to the upkeep of old army houses upheld by nothing more than the constant loving care bestowed on them, and did not vie for privileges unbecoming of their spouses sworn into laying down their lives for the nation.
Where have those officers and gentlemen gone?
While the rank and file of the army still remains the same and follows those time-tested traditions, there has been an unusual change amongst the top brass.
In fact, a certain cancer has spread, slowly but surely, in our society. It has spread its tentacles in all sections of society, politicians, bureaucrats, senior army officers, members of the judiciary, media persons, businessmen, lawyers, policemen, contractors, doctors, sportsmen, religious leaders, the list is endless.
But the point to remember is that in all these professions there are also many men and women of repute whose hands are not tainted by greed and corruption. These are the true victims of this tragedy. Hence the dire need to call a spade a spade.
Let us not call it a conspiracy against this organisation or that, this individual or that. Let us not look for deeper and sometimes imaginary hidden agendas in these corruption charges.
The lifestyle of corrupt people speaks for itself. It is the lifestyle of the rich, the bold and not so beautiful. And when found guilty, let us sweep the stables clean. When the rotten eggs in all departments are made to suffer for their deeds, that will be a lesson in history that no one will easily forget.
We have a tendency to treat the good and the bad in the same manner. Why should the men who lay down their lives for the nation, or the officers and jawans who come to the rescue of their countrymen in all calamities, suffer for the misdeeds and greed of some of their senior officers?
Why should the genuine and honest people in any department, whether it is the media, the police, the judiciary, sports or any other field, feel humiliated for the corruption of their colleagues?
When the success of a person is judged only by his lifestyle, by free trips to marvellous places abroad, by the Mercedes or BMW he drives albeit on our broken streets, fit only for bullock carts, when he dresses in suits the price of which can feed a poor family for several months or lives in houses that can put private dwellings of people in the First World to shame, his family is bound to become a misfit in this land of the pure. The children and spouses consider all this luxury their birthright. The misuse of official privileges becomes the norm rather than the exception.
This artificial way of life is totally at a variance with the state of affairs of our poor country. It creates a mad desire to cling to power or the post which gives them this lifestyle at any cost. It sets a terrible precedence for the new generation.
Perhaps that is the reason why so many sons of well-known fathers in many professions demand a lifestyle which is well beyond the legal means of their parents. In their misplaced love for their families, the parents resort to corruption, little realising that this stigma will haunt them not only in the present but their later generations will also bear the brunt.
How many men in our present times can walk with their heads held high because neither they themselves, nor their fathers or forefather and not even their sons have ever dabbled in ill-gotten wealth? This is a rare privilege in this country.
The desire to do well in life and to achieve a better standard of living is not a sin. It is a legitimate wish for which all men strive. But to achieve this end by hook or by crook, using corruption, misusing official privileges and selling your soul, is something to be ashamed of. It is this devilish desire that we have to control, discourage and punish if we are to progress as a society.
Now that the genie is out, it is the ideal time to set the record straight. It is a God-given opportunity that we must seize upon.
If not, then fathers will be humiliated by their sons and sons will not be proud of their fathers. Men will live in constant fear of exposure in their palaces and the very wealth that they have acquired by selling their soul to the devil will torture them day and night.