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|Dharma on Three Legs (standard:other, 3016 words)|
|Author: Juggernaut||Added: Nov 16 2010||Views/Reads: 1828/1224||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|A sad story on corruption|
Click here to read the first 75 lines of the story Babu always dressed in impeccable white loose garb, appearing more like a gentleman than a con man. He was dark skinned and tall, with short curly hair. He smiled often with thin lips closed and eyes open that sparkled like bright lights. He spoke with confidence and dignity that evoked respect from everyone, whether a low ranking civil servant or a dignitary. Babu became a local celebrity though never occupied an elected position. His handsome appearance gave credibility to any story, whether he portrayed himself as a former film producer, a building contractor, a small-time politician or any position for that matter. To make a living, Babu promoted himself as a political power broker though he belonged neither to the official ruling party nor any other political party. He advanced himself as a person that can get things done using his political connections, more like a modern day lobbyist. Scores of people would wait on a daily basis to meet Babu at his house, either for his intervention to get things done at government offices, get jobs or get admission into popular colleges. For a fee, he accepted any and every challenge presented to him, whether he delivered what he promised to accomplish was never publicized since the requesting party kept their dealings secret. Babu ventured into many businesses, all of them were short lived with customers ending up loosing their investments while Babu moved on to his next project. His favorite venture was real estate involving land sale for constructing family homes. Through his company “Sacred Land Realtors,” he placed the following advertisement in newspapers published not locally but in far away cities. “House Lots for Sale” “Land for sale to build family homes. Recorded history show that sages and saints walked on this land centuries ago, now available for individuals to own a piece of this sacred land.” The word sacred was dubious since the land belonged to a temple and Babu has no authority to sell. Neither the temple authorities nor the town planning commission were aware that he was selling the land since all the lots were sold to people from far away towns. Several months after the authorities shut down his “Sacred Land Realtors” business, Babu opened another outfit “Mountain View Realtors” in a separate section of the town. He sold granite hills, a property of local government to unsuspecting customers with promise that the land would be a great source for rocks to build family homes on the site. The granite hill, several hundred feet deep of solid rock was only good as a quarry for stones rather than a site for houses. Babu again duped people trying to cash in on cheap land. This time, after cashing out, Babu got out of the realtor business for good. The other venture was a travel business. Babu opened “Endless Travels,” a travel agency that promised cheap airline tickets and vacation deals. Babu bought tickets in bulk from various airline companies on a loan and never paid them back when he sold the tickets to his customers. Passengers with tickets from “Endless Travels” were stranded at various destinations and couldn't return to their homes, as the tickets were either one-way tickets though were sold as round trip tickets or the airlines refused to honor their tickets purchased from “Endless Travels.” Eventually, the travelers' endless saga came to an end when the airlines came to their rescue. Thereafter, the airlines refused to do business with “Endless Travels.” Babu thus ended his travel agency business. After some time, Babu declared himself as a journalist and ventured into publishing business. He bought a press with a loan from the government and started publishing an evening tabloid titled “Victory.” The four-page tabloid was more like an advertisement insert than a regular newspaper. He wrote an editorial column titled “You know what I mean” and solicited the public to write letters to the editor which he published under the heading “Speak Out Loud.” The letters to the editor and his own editorial column were filler materials to fill any spaces left between the advertisements. Babu collected a hefty fee for advertising in his tabloid citing inflated circulation figures though almost every copy was given away free since no body wanted to buy a copy. The following are some of the samples from his Editorial column “You Know What I Mean..” “You Know What I Mean” A country like ours known for producing large number of high tech workers also has shamefully record number of illiterates. This disparity is unique to our country, which prides itself for placing education as number one priority. We need more primary schools to enroll the poorest of the poor children and others that wander on streets every day. What politicians are doing about this is obvious, if you know what I mean. Yours truly, The Editor “You Know What I Mean” Almost fifty-year after gaining independence from Britain, the differences between various states with respect to sharing natural resources is shameful to say the least. Some states refuse to share water resources with neighboring states as if they own the natural resource. Natural resources such as mountains, forests, lakes and rivers belong to every citizen of the country. Some state politicians were playing politics by withholding the sharing of national resources and those states that indulge in such practices should face up to a national boycott in importing from those states. This would teach them a lesson, if you know what I mean. Yours truly, The Editor “You Know What I Mean” Our railway system perhaps the largest in the world is prone to accidents and most vulnerable to terrorist attacks. Inspection of thousands of miles of railway track and providing security for each train on a daily basis is the only solution to provide adequate protection to millions of train passengers. Our government could provide jobs to the millions of unemployed people on a minimum wage to guard every railway bridge and all the tracks around the clock to prevent terrorist attacks. The railway minister should think seriously about the security problems that are plaguing the railways if he want to continue with his portfolio, if you know what I mean. Yours truly, The Editor Following were some sample letters to the editor published in “Victory” in the column “Speaking Out Loud.” Dear Editor, Thanks in advance for publishing my letter in “Victory.” I am speaking out loud through this column for people to hear about the conditions in the government hospital. During the nights, the hospital is a dangerous place since there are no lights either inside or outside the wards. The doctors hardly keep up their schedule since they are busy with their private practice elsewhere. The other day, I took my sick son to the hospital for a check up and it took almost 5 hours before a nurse attended to him. The doctor never showed up for duty. I want the local politicians to know the conditions under which poor people like me are living and constantly suffering. Sincerely, K.R Dear Editor, I am one of those poor people who live in thatched houses not too far from the beach. Like hundreds of others who live here, we do not have any toilet facilities. The beach serves as an open latrine for all of us. Now, the municipality is objecting to the use of the beach as a latrine in the name of cleanliness and beautification. Since we don't have latrines at home, where else we can go to relieve ourselves? Since there is no underground sewer system in our town, I am speaking out loud to know where the toilet waste from the hundreds of high-rise expensive apartments on the beachfront is draining into, if not into the sea? Yours truly, J. J Dear Editor, I am not ashamed to confess being one of those men who go out with prostitutes on a regular basis. I read somewhere that prostitution is legal in Netherlands and these women are checked medically to prevent spread of diseases and licensed to practice their profession without interference from pimps. I am speaking out loud to ask the local government to allow prostitutes to have same freedom here so that customers like me don't have to suffer from harassment from the police and don't have to worry about contracting diseases from the prostitutes. Sincerely, M. K Dear Editor, Thanks for publishing my letter. I am speaking out loud to get the attention of everybody on the behavior of police in our town. Some policemen are corrupt to the core and they act as judge, jury and executioners. The police are to prevent crime and apprehend the perpetrators but not punish them without trial. Yours truly, L .G Dear Editor, Ever since the private banks were nationalized in 70's, the bank employees became the de facto owners of the banks in lending money to their favorite customers and business owners, and in return were receiving large kickbacks. We the taxpayers have to take the responsibility for the huge right off to cover the bad loans issued by the crooked bank managers. I am speaking out loud, if anyone knows of a bank employee who does not own an apartment complex or a huge house? How come these people have big assets with paltry salaries? Thanks in advance for publishing my letter in “Victory. ”Yours truly, K.K. Dear Editor, I am speaking out loud through this column to let people know how the so-called tutorial colleges are taking advantage of the people by collecting exorbitant tuition fee. Scores of engineering, dental and medical colleges sprouting like mushrooms all over the place to enroll students with a promise of bright future. It is senseless to expect that all these hundreds of thousands of graduates get jobs after receiving the diplomas. The only people benefiting from this get-rich scheme are those that own the schools. I compare the private tutorial schools to animal intestine through which food passes through quickly and waste is discharged as dung. Sincerely G.M. Dear Editor, I am begging you to print my letter in your esteemed newspaper “Victory.” I want to know if anyone was aware of the kind of furniture and other wooden fixtures, one could find in the homes of forest officers, only Teak and Rose wood furniture. These officers consider the nations forest resources as their own by diverting the valuable lumber to their own homes and worst selling them on black market. I am speaking out loud to the authorities apprehend these thieves masquerading as forest officers. Sincerely, S.K. Whenever they were no new letters to print, Babu would publish the old letters again and again to fill the space or he wrote himself. The tabloid “Victory” ran its course slowly to a grinding halt as the advertisement revenue dried up. Babu published the tabloid once in a while during festive season to carry the advertisements. The government in an attempt to raise the literacy rate to a respectable level introduced a private initiate where private schools were paid per each enrolment to provide primary education to children from lower socio-economic families. Babu instantly sensed an opportunity to make big money in education business. Babu opened “Sea of Change Academies,” a chain of primary schools through out the city to enroll children of homeless and beggars. Like dogcatchers, he sent people to scout the areas inhabited by transients, beggars and homeless people for their children to enroll in his schools. He spent 40% of the funds in bribes to politicians and bureaucrats to receive the contracts to provide free education under the government campaign of “Uplift the Literacy Rate” and out of remaining 60%, he kept 30% for himself and spent the remaining paltry 30% on the schools. The teachers' salaries were equivalent to wages paid to servant maids in rich peoples' homes. The enrollment campaign only improved the state literacy levels on paper only, since very few students continued to attend the school after initial enrollment. The beggars needed their children back on the streets as panhandlers whereas others went back to work as child laborers to help their families. Babu operated “Sea of Change Academies” on paper only except on those days when state inspectors visited to collect their kickbacks. The politicians were happy to quote their efforts in improving the literacy rates in their re-election campaign. The entire campaign to improve literacy rate to educate the under privileged children was a campaign on paper only that benefited the politicians, bureaucrats and opportunists like Babu. The children were neither attending the school nor the teachers were earning a respectable salary. No one had a clue how old Babu was, since his slim body wrapped in loose garb made it hard to guess his age. He may be in late 70's or 80's but his age is irrelevant since his mind is young, active, and fertile as a newly cleared land to give birth to new ideas and nourish them to bear fruits of success in purely monetary terms. The ideas were crooked from the beginning to the end just like the one his wife cooked up just before she died when she bought several expensive silk garments from a store on a credit. The shopkeeper read about her obituary in “Victory,” the evening tabloid Babu owned and could only attend her funeral to watch her body in flames during cremation along with the debt she owed to him. The people of Allipuram could only wait to see the end of Babu to face up to Yama Dharma Raja, the arbitrator in heaven (as per Hindu philosophy). Here, Babu stands little chance to win over dharma standing on its sturdy four legs. Allipuram may have to wait for some time to celebrate the victory of dharma over Babu. Tweet
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