The bribe price

Duck posted a poignant and thought-provoking post a few days ago.

It was a meditation of sorts, on aspiration and dreams. Brought into sharp focus through the lens of experience of one young Indian woman, Megla. And the stark realisation that her particular dream will forever remain beyond her grasp.

And in this system where she must find an alternative dream to reach for, where even the love of a good man is a lottery, there are other hurdles to overcome: corruption and bribery.

But the web is enabling citizens to take a stand against these corrosive practices:

ipaidabribe.com is Janaagraha’s unique initiative to tackle corruption by harnessing the collective energy of citizens. You can report on the nature, number, pattern, types, location, frequency and values of actual corrupt acts on this website. Your reports will, perhaps for the first time, provide a snapshot of bribes occurring across your city. We will use them to argue for improving governance systems and procedures, tightening law enforcement and regulation and thereby reduce the scope for corruption in obtaining services from the government. We invite you to register any recent or old bribes you have paid. Please tell us if you resisted a demand for a bribe, or did not have to pay a bribe, because of a new procedure or an honest official who helped you. We do not ask for your name or phone details, so feel free to report on the formats provided.

But it’s still going to be a struggle…….

Seeing these ideas taking root, the Chief Secretary of the state – the highest ranking bureaucrat – has since sought our support to do more. Last month, we saw ipaidabribe posters going up in key government departments all over the city of Bangalore, asking people to send a text message to us if they had to pay a bribe for a government service, or if they didn’t have to pay a bribe. We thought there would be a deluge of messages, until we discovered just last week that the government offices were putting up the posters at a height of 15 feet, barely visible unless you are superman! So clearly, even when we think we have wrested a victory, setbacks lurk just around the corner, or above one’s head.

You can read more about ipaidabribe here, and their work in Kenya, Greece, Zimbabwe and Pakistan.

John MacPherson was born and lives in the Scottish Highlands. He trained as a welder in the Glasgow shipyards, before completing an apprenticeship as a carpenter, and then qualified as a Social Worker in Disability Services. Along the way he has cooked on canal barges, trained as an Alpine Ski Leader & worked as an Instructor for Skiers with disabilities, been a canoe instructor, and tutor of night classes in carpentry, stained glass design and manufacture, and archery. He has travelled extensively on various continents, undertaking solo trips by bicycle, or motorcycle. He has had narrow escapes from an ambush by terrorists, been hit by lightning, caught in an erupting volcano, trapped in a mobile home by a tornado, kidnapped by a dog's hairdresser, rammed by a basking shark and was once bitten by a wild otter. He has combined all this with professional photography, which he has practised for over 35 years. He teaches photography and acts as a photography guide & tutor in the UK and abroad. His biggest challenge is keeping his 27 year old Land Rover 110 on the road. He loves telling and hearing stories.

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