Article

The Leopard is Corrupt

The real things haven’t changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong.

This article talking about  being honest, etc. might seem to be too idealistic but can we expect a better society without at least being honest? The least developed nations are the most corrupt. Can we still afford to ignore this?

Once you have started, please read the complete article before commenting!

India established it’s first IIT in Kharagpur in 1951 of which I am a proud alumni now. Nearly 60 years later, a Hall of Residence claimed to be the largest Hall of Residence in Asia was built to accommodate nearly 1800 young minds (some say, creamy minds) of the country. It was named as “Lal Bahadur Shastri Hall of Residence”. I feel fortunate to have gotten to stay in the same hall for the past 5 years as it has one of the best infrastructure among all the Halls of Residences on the campus. The name “Lal Bahadur Shastri” adds more pride to this achievement of mine. As is the case with all other Halls of Residence in the campus, LBS has also got an administrative body to look after the day-to-day needs and hustles of the hall which includes the Wardens and the student body (Hall Council). Given the dimension of the LBS Hall, the student body takes more pride in working for the welfare of a population as high as 1800. I believe they have genuine reasons to feel so but…

The LBS Hall during the academic session 2018-19 was under the rule of a king who claims himself to be the “Leopard”. Well, you might think how can “the Leopard (and not the Lion) be the King”. Well, this is what he claims and claims are not true every time unlike the claims in this article where I claim that every fact that I say here is true and I can prove it in any court of law if/when asked for.

And the facts are:

The Leopard who claims himself to be an honest social servant who took out his time to serve the boarders of the LBS Hall is in fact corrupt. He did not let go any occasion of acquiring money illegally and immorally. In fact, he went ahead in creating opportunities for himself to grab the money to his pocket. Be it the Grand Dinner, be it the Sastrian Utsav, be it the Illumination event on Diwali, be it Independence Day celebration, to name a few, he forged bills on all occasions to get the money in his pocket. According to the evidence I have, cumulatively, he got involved in the corruption of around 1 lakh during his Presidentship during the academic year 2018-19. Interestingly, it so happened that the mess contractor got disgruntled due to his behavior of demanding money all the time and so there were moments of clash between the Hall President and the Contractor in the later period of his Presidentship. He threatened the contractor to cause him to lose the contract and to ask the warden to impose more fine. But, the mess contractor was not a first timer in this war of politics, he hinted to the warden that the Hall President is demanding money and the Hall President in fear of a disciplinary action against himself decided to back off. But this happened only later during his Presidentship and by that time, the damage was already done.

The maxim of ‘nothing is illegal until you get caught’ is one of the major factors why people do not follow lawful instructions given to them and break the rules with impunity.

Obvious Questions:

I know there might be several questions in your mind. How can corruption happen in the first place given more than one Warden oversee the hall budget and money allocation? Why do the auditors never notice the forged transactions? Why the hell did the contractor gave money to the Hall President? Why did the boarders never get to know about these transactions? Why did no one in the Hall Council raise their voice? Here’s the story. A TRUE STORY.

Connecting the Dots:

The entire setup facilitating the corruption is as simple as it can be. All you need to have is a lack of honesty and the tendency to exploit the lacunae in the system for your own benefit. The general technique is to over-price the items or fake the purchase of the items (except in online mode of transaction) and have an understanding with the person from whom you trade who promises you to pay a part of it. For example, suppose ₹ 1 lakh is allocated to the refreshment in the Illumination event out of which an amount of only ₹ 70k is spent on the refreshment. Do you think the warden will ever know if the refreshment bill is shown to be ₹ 95k. The Hall President will show that we have saved ₹ 5k and prove his honesty in front of the warden but in actuality, an amount of ₹ 25k goes into the hand of the Hall President from which he will, suppose, pay Rs. 5k to the Hall Canteen as a reward to make the over-priced bill and ₹ 10k to give party/money to the persons who knows about this transaction to ensure silence from their side on this matter. Similarly, there is enough scope in the hall events including the general championship, the Sastrian Utsav, the Independence Day celebration, the Republic Day celebration, the Saraswati Puja celebration, etc. Moreover, the mess contractor over-pricing the items in the grand dinner on the advice of the Hall President and paying a part of the extra price to the Hall President to win his confidence is yet another common way of corruption in the Hall. Now, you might wonder why the hell would the mess contractor bribe the Hall President to win his confidence. Let me explain some fascinating and expensive calculations. The mess charge for a boarder is Rs. 12000 per semester. There are around 1800 boarders in LBS Hall. So, Rs. 12000 x 1800 = Rs. 2 Crore 16 lakhs. This amount is just for one semester. For an academic year, this will double to become Rs. 4 Crore 32 lakhs. This is excluding the mess additional charges which comes little more than Rs. 1000 each semester. Adding up the additional charges, the total amount charged by the student for running the mess would amount to nearly Rs. 5 Crore. Given such a huge figure of contract and naturally, a huge profit involved, it is very important for the mess contractor to keep the Hall President happy who can not only help the contractor in retaining the mess contract but also help the contractor escape from the mess fines which can be imposed on the mess contractor due to the complaints registered by the students in the mess. And to spend a few thousands to upto a lakh or two would not be too much for the contractor to win the confidence of the Hall President.

Who is at fault?

If we look at the complete administrative setup, the stakeholders involved are The Hall Council, The Hall Warden, The Mess Contractor, The Hall auditor. The Hall Council (I mean apart from the Hall President) must be knowing about the corruption but they kept silent because most of them (and not all of them because some of them were honest and I know this for sure) were fed through parties for sure and may be through small amounts of money. The Mess Contractor who was a major source of money for the Hall President could hardly do anything because of two reasons. First, he was also at a major fault in giving bribe and so if he would have complained about corruption with evidence, it would have back-fired him and he might have ended up in losing contract and even getting black-listed and second, given contracts worth of crores, few thousand of rupees or even few lakhs of money was a meager amount for the contractor. The Hall Warden(s) did knew that something fishy was going on but they did not care to probe in more detail and played kind of a fatherly-figure thinking that merely a few words of guidance and motivation would work. I don’t know much about how the auditor played the role and so I would rather prefer not to comment except that I have often heard the members of the Hall Council criticizing the auditor for not passing the bill.

How does a boarder sitting in his room contribute to the Hall of Residence?

Most of the time whenever any boarder tells/condemns any member of the Hall Council for not being able to do something which might have been very important for the boarder, the trivial, most common and almost scripted reply is “It is easy to say this just sitting in your room. If you wanted this to be done why didn’t you join the hall council?”

First of all, in college there are ample fields to explore and everyone has their preferences in life. Some people likes to step out of the room and join societies or hall activities to learn leadership skills, other people likes to sit back in the room and code and still other people like to sit back in their room and prepare for the exams like GATE, GRE, UPSC. We all are smart and independent to choose whatever we would like to pursue. Any member of the hall council who chooses to be our leader very well knows in advance the perks associated. The POR of a being in hall council is very much respected in the resume which offers quite an edge over other candidates during placements. So, the question “why didn’t you join the hall council” often goes off guard.

Now when we talk about a boarder’s contribution, think about it this way. A boarder sitting in his room, who well might not be participating in any hall activities is contributing to the Hall in all important ways. A boarder, who switches off the lights before leaving the room, who closes the water tap after use, who throws the garbage in the dustbin (I know it does not sounds so cool still it attracts appreciation) and who does not rob hall’s or boarder’s money is contributing to the hall. May be he is not participating in the hall activities at present but in future he might help the hall with donations in cash or kind (Very likely, a possibility. Do you think a corrupt Hall President will ever pay back in cash?) Not to mention, every boarder has a share to pay in the Hall budget. I think it would be an awkward self-flattery to tell how I helped my friends in studies with notes and stuffs, few of whom were in the Hall Council. So, a boarder sitting in his room might even help in helping the Hall Council Members run the Hall in however indirect the way may be. (I wish I could have proved my point without mentioning this) It is frustrating to realize that as a boarder of the LBS Hall, I was contributing more than I even thought I was. Like other LBS boarders, I was unwilling funding the Hall President’s vacation trip and unknowingly helping him clear up his personal loans, to list a few among many.

If we are fair in our judgement, we will figure out that a boarder sitting in his room contributes much more than a corrupt Hall President. Does that mean I am denying the contribution of the members of the hall council who are taking out their time to work for the hall. Not exactly so. Let me explain. The deal of the trade in discharging the duty as a member of the hall council ensures reward for them in many important ways. They gain experiences which are valued by the company, they get a certificate which puts a good weight on their resume which might even help them in getting preferred over other candidates during placement. This is not just a theory, these POR’s in the resume have actually helped people get a job. The monetary gain is not officially intended and if they lose their moral ground to create ways to put hall’s or boarder’s money in their pocket, I will prefer to deny their contribution to the hall and others should too.

A different perspective of why it is more hurting than merely an act of corruption?

Why is this wrong? Is it just corruption? Is it just a legal aspect? Is it about the expectation of having the moral obligation of not being corrupt?

Let me give you a different perspective and one of the main reasons this hurts me so much and (I hope) the reason why this should hurt you so much. I really hope this dimension will sink in with your thoughts.

You know one of the most controversial topic discussed on the internet in India especially on social media is “Reservation.” I was among the many privileged JEE aspirants who got into IIT through reservation. My friends who secured ranks better than me could not get into IIT because they did not have the same certificate as I had. I felt terribly bad for them. Back then, I had made a commitment with myself that I would use this opportunity more than it intends to provide me and would pay back to the society, to the country, whenever I would get an opportunity. What is more terrible than the evil practice of corruption is that people getting into the system through reservation and using the privilege and the opportunity to exploit the lacunae in the system to do all the wrong things including corruption and fails the very purpose of reservation. Here is the same scenario which makes me more sad and disappointed. I came to know that the person in question also came through reservation. In fact, he was lucky enough to have a more powerful certificate than I had. So, he gets the privilege to join IIT and then a golden opportunity to pay back to the society (in fact, the boarders of LBS Hall) as the Hall President comes his way and what he does? He uses that position to illegally and above all, immorally involve in an act of corruption. It was such a wonderful opportunity for him to justify the privilege that he got and to set an example but it was a complete lack of character and lack of gratefulness from his side.

Do you think this should hurt you more? Did this aspect hurt you more?

Do you think I mean to say that a similar act of corruption by a student of non-reserved category should hurt you less? Absolutely not. The importance of being honest transcends time, space, religion, caste and gender but in the India of 21st century where reservation is seen to be a major blockage in India’s development, people being openly critical of the reservation system, it becomes an urgent moral obligation of people from reserved category not be a burden on the system and block or decelerate the progress. In having the feeling of thankfulness and the attitude of paying back, they can silence their critics in the most positive and friendly way.

Why am I writing now and not earlier?

I got my hands on the evidence lately. Studying and researching the evidence requires patience and time because, ultimately, I have to be accountable for everything I write in this article. And, this whole thing appears to be a lot boring (you know) and requires more determination to sit for hours when you have so many movies and web series in your hard disk yet to be watched and also, when you are not being paid to write the article.

Disclaimer:

I only say that the Hall President of LBS Hall during the academic session 2018-19 was corrupt and I can prove it in any court of law if/when asked for. I do not infer to extend this context to any other Hall of Residence in the campus or any other Hall President of LBS Hall because I do not have the evidence but you can very well use the regression methods.

“Nearly all men can withstand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power,” – Abraham Lincoln

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