By the time these lines appear in print, President Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam would have left for his ancestral home in Tamilnadu with two small suitcases, one containing his personal books and the other his personal clothes.
I said “personal clothes” because when a broker-politician i.e. M.P. or MLA agrees to oblige a needy person seeking a posting or transfer, he asks him to bring two pairs of “khadi kurta-pyjama” (as his washerman has not brought his clothes).
Would the outgoing President be remembered not only for his high qualities of head and heart but also for his spotless character? Frankly speaking, I don’t think so. Because this is not the age of character. It is the age of characterlessness. Yes! The scientists may remember him for his contribution to missile technology. The smart and the intelligent of the day laugh at those who still cling to bourgeois values like honesty and probity. Is a “pious sub-Inspector of Police” not a liability for his own department?
Look at the report card of Mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav or Ms Jayalalitha or Ms Mayawati. With what they made their respective debuts in politics and what they are, assets wise, today, convinces the sceptic of politics being a highly lucrative business. Because of pressure on space, let us take the case of the Chief Minister of U.P. only. Today her assets are to the tune of Rs 52 crore. In 2004 she was just an M.P. At the time of 2004 elections, her wealth was worth just Rs 1.67 crore. Her assets have grown more than 30 times over the period. In the light of her declaration, she has Rs 50.27 lakh in cash, Rs 12.88 crore in bank deposits and Rs 50.87 lakh worth jewellery and property worth Rs 36.84 crore. Poor CBI, just before her recent elevation, was investigating into her disproportionate income and assets worth only half of the present amount. Her exit route passed through the Raj Bhavan in UP. The CBI could not touch her because the Governor of UP did not permit her prosecution. Now excellent relations exist between Lucknow and New Delhi. She is safe till this honeymoon remains. If they like, Mr. Mulayam Singh and Ms Jayalalitha can also take a cue from Ms Mayawati. She has all the qualities of a trail blazer.
Some personages are so grand that the posts they occupy pale into insignificance before them. Similar is the position with awards and titles. Sometimes tittles and awards get weighty after their acceptance by a grand personage, while some personages, because of their grand stature remain far above the awards and titles. The Feisal Award got significance and respectability following its conferment upon the late Maulana Sayyid Abul A’la Maududi. Do you think the award of Nobel Prize would have added to the stature of Dr. Shaikh Mohammad Iqbal, the Poet of the East?
How to occupy higher posts, receive prestigious titles, accumulate honorary degrees, is, in fact, an art, rather a fine art.
Some well-to-do, self-styled litterateurs of Urdu, not long ago, wanted to finance the Sahitya Academy award for themselves. But mercifully their sincere request laced with huge bribes was turned down by the concerned upright selections.
Bribe is not everybody’s cup of tea. It needs guts, cheek and temerity and, above all, enterprise. Cash or keys of a car is not the only means of bribe. One can be bribed by just a movement of lips or neck or just a fleeting smile or just a cursory glance. Politicians and diplomats, in crucial talks particularly, use their glances and smiles as a tool. Their smiles can both be contemptuous and appreciative. It depends upon the occasion. These smiles speak volumes, bulkier than the Chamber’s or Oxford Dictionary. Similarly silence speaks, speaks loudly, louder than noises of lovelorn cats. Silence can also and does bribe.
Today’s so-called Arab, Islamic regimes and their bureaucrats accept bribes in the form of gifts, costly and glittering. But up to, at least the Khulafa-e-Rashideen, it was not possible through any means. But it is dirt easy today – direct and flat. Even brazenness is not required for that.
The key to un-lock the lock lies within the lock. If you have been caught while taking a bribe, get yourself free by bribing the prosecutor!