Optimizing Corruption!

A couple of months back I came across an email from the Alumni Association mentioning the probable contenders for this year’s Satyendra Dubey Memorial Award. If you are wondering who Satyendra Dubey was, let me tell you that he was an IITian and an officer in the Indian Engineering Service (IES) who was eliminated from this system as he proved to be a roadblock for those who wanted to exploit this system to their advantage.

If you are wondering why suddenly I am referring to him, then it is because both; him and myself had one thing in common which is that we are civil engineers. And recently I came across a guy from the same breed of civil engineers who happened to apply for a job of an engineer in one of the construction companies.construction 1

Though, it is no hidden truth that we all happen to be living in a system where everything ranging from getting your passport made to applying for a gas connection requires a common man to fill the pockets of those granting the same in order to get what they legitimately deserve to have, yet when it happens to come out as blatantly as it did in the interview that ensued between the company representatives (CR) and this guy (G) one cannot help but wonder whether corruption has become such an integral part of our lives that a point has come where one cannot get rid of it at any point of time in one’s lives.

Hello G! I can see on your resume that you have had an excellent academic record, you are from the likes of IIT, so there is no need to talk to you about technical things. But one thing that I would want to test you on is whether you are pragmatic enough to handle the situations that arise while working in the field. Are you ready?”——CR

Of course, Sir. I am.”—G

Good. Then I would want you to answer a question for me. Say, you are in charge of implementing a project and you come across a serious issue while supervising the project that the contractors are not using the same kind of concrete mix which is required as per the standards and are instead using a formula which will help them get maximum profits. What will you do in such a scenario?”—-CR

Sir, I will first of all stop the work and will come and report to the office of what is happening in the field.”—G

See, that was the exact reply that I was expecting from you. Very correct to the core. But this is not what we expect you to do. What we want you to do instead is to carry on with the work at the same time ensuring that the safety aspect is not compromised. In short, let the contractor do what he is up to, your responsibility will be to take care of the safety within the parameters that have been set by the contractor. For that if you need to compromise on the durability aspect you can do so, for in the end the maintenance contract will again come to us, and then we can repair it and keep the cycle going on forever.”—-CR

You are kidding, right, Sir?”—-G

Well, that is my only complaint with institutes like IIT. They do teach you all the fundamentals and theories but they don’t teach you anything about the reality and how you will be able to survive in this system. It is a pity that a talented guy like you is looking for jobs just because you are totally unaware of the system and its reality. May be it is high time they start teaching you the pragmatic part as well.”—–CR

If you are now wondering whether G got his job, then I must tell you that G preferred to walk out of the interview instead and is still looking for a job where he could get a chance to make use of all the things he has learnt in an honest and legitimate manner.

This is not only true for the construction industry but for all the sectors, though the kind and form may vary depending on the dynamics of that particular sector. Wherever one goes, one needs to become a part of the system, otherwise either he is called a loser of simply stupid person, for not being able to cope up with the pressures and demands that this system presents to us.

Every modern chanakya will tell you that you got to be a part of the system if you wish to bring about a change in this very system. In every high profile interview that you happen to appear for, be it the civil services examination or any other PSU, you might be lucky enough to get a lecture from those who consider them as part of the system on how you got to become an integral part of the system in order to bring about a change in the system.

Sometimes, I wonder, though, whether becoming a part of the system in itself is equivalent to giving a go ahead or an approval to the fact that very little can be done in case you choose to remain honest and in case you want to tread your own path and if you dare to do so, you should be mentally and physically prepared to meet all the challenges that will come your way courtesy of you being an honest officer.corruption

But it is true as well that if you are not able to enter the system then you won’t have a chance at all of making some difference to the way things are being conducted in our system. The better way would be to indeed work towards getting into this system and trying to live by the values and principles that could make both you and your family proud.

The choice is yours whether you want to join the herd who try to optimize corruption to their advantage or instead stand alone in this crowd and take on those who take great pride in doing acts of corruption. The only glitch may be that such honest people seem to be in a minority with majority joining the herd as that seems to be the easiest option.

Rest assured that there will be consequences, there will be times when you will feel down and out, there will be moments when you will feel like toeing in the line, but it will be your courage and desire to shape a better future for your children alone, which will carry you forward in this journey of creating a World of your dreams.

Source for Image: http://adminfinance.umw.edu/parking/construction/, http://technorati.com/women/article/leadership-lessons-loosening-the-knots-of/

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Understanding the Men Behind the Art

If you have ever been involved with constructing a house or getting done the woodwork or the interiors in a flat, you would know every bits of information that I will be mentioning henceforth.

With the kind of work environment provided to the workmen who are involved in the above e.g. carpenters etc., and with the kind of work prestige that comes along, they are bound to get unprofessional.

They are truly an unorganized work force, who live on a daily basis. They have no option but to work at the mercy of their agent or the contractor, who tends to get the major part of the profits, leaving these artists a very meagre amount in which they have to sustain not only themselves but also their families, residing either in the slums of the city or their native villages.

This coupled with the fact that the skill set they possess is not because of any professional training that they might have got through the various government non-functioning schemes, but because of being involved on site with their brethen, makes them sometimes a target of the ire that the client might have built in him/her because of the quality of the work that might have resulted.

What follows is a series of quarrel between the client, the contractor/agent and the workmen. The client takes it out on the contractor who according to the client is supposed to fulfill his/her part of the deal (by the way, in most situations there is no deal of sorts and the work gets done on a purely verbal understanding).

The contractor, since he/she is bound by his/herwords tends to take it out on the poor workmen who have no option but to listen to the wrath being taken out on them. The workmen are sometimes aware of the lack of skills they have, but they end up not doing anything about it because of the sheer absence of alternatives available to them.

What follows is a total chaos. The client gets upset because his/her work doesn’t get completed to his/her satisfaction and liking. The contractor is upset because of the things that he/she might have to listen to (though they have got pretty much used to the bickering and are only concerned with making money these days). The workmen of course are a disadvantaged lot and have no where to go to.

Seeing the above, the need of the hour is to have a professional organization which can organize things for these craftsmen, who can register themselves in the same and can be assured of an equitable and continuous source of earning.

The perception of the so called well-off in our society needs to be changed and they should be sensitized towards the plight of these workmen, at the same time, a respect for the very work should be made to develop amongst the lot.

The government needs to become responsive to the needs of such labour by introducing well planned schemes which can enable these workmen to develop appropriate skill set required in the profession that they are pursuing, which would in turn help them in developing self-confidence.

This would ensure that the workmen would no longer be considered the dirty lot and would get their due, of which they have been deprived off since centuries now.

Source for Image: http://www.dartblog.com/data/2010/10/009220.php, http://quinn-tasteandsee.blogspot.in/2011/12/i-am-carpenter.html