In general terms, bribery means the exchange of cash, material or goods in return of a favour that is otherwise impossible or hard to attain. However much we say that we are against bribery, against giving or taking any kind of bribe, deep down we all know that we are either accepting or offering a bribe in some way or the other.
Many people still attach a stigma to the practice of bribery without realising that they often unwittingly practice it themselves. A child is promised a toy in return for a good performance in his studies. Gods are offered bribes in return for compliance with the wishes of the devotee. Many unscrupulous and rich people build temples for gods to win their favour. Whatever may be the publicly pronounced motives for such undertakings, a strong motive for winning favour from gods cannot be denied in most cases.
It is nearly impossible to find a person who has neither given nor accepted any kind of bribe in his or her entire lifetime. If you want your child to get admitted to a good school or college, then you have to offer a bribe. If you want a seat allotted in a train, you have to offer a bribe. If you want to get rid of the crimes you have committed, you have to offer bribes.
In fact, you even bribe your child with chocolate to get the work done. Bribery thus starts from the household itself. When a child will see his or her parents offering a bribe, what outcome do you expect?
The most important reason for corruption is the never-ending chain of bribes that are offered and accepted throughout the country.
In a country like India, where bribery is the major source of income for most of the government officials and public servants, we cannot expect the government itself to do away with this corrupt practice. But the citizens cannot complain that the government and government officials are involved in the corrupt practice of bribery because it is the citizens who offer a bribe to these public servants. If the citizens themselves stop offering bribes, the roots of bribery will diminish in no time.
It is essential for parents at home and teachers in school to teach the children the importance of honesty so that they do not offer or accept bribes in their lifetime. Slowly but steadily, the practice of offering and giving bribes can be eliminated from its very roots if people join hands and take an oath to eliminate this practice by hook or by crook. But the bitter truth remains; we ourselves cannot imagine our life free from this practice so how do we expect to abolish it completely?
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)