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Niceties of nicking

According to the Darbari guidebook, skimming off small sums is fine. So get your priorities right.

india Updated: Nov 23, 2010 21:08 IST

Order and methodology must inform all our actions and this goes for scams as well. Sacked Commonwealth official TS Darbari underscored this point when he asked why he had been arrested in an alleged scam worth only Rs1.5 crore when those involved in a scam worth Rs 200 crore were not being touched. We feel for dear old Darbari and are grateful for this eye-opener. His theory is that it is fine to nick the public’s money but in judicious quantities. If you get a little greedy, then it's open season on you. So we need to grade the scams that are whirling around us like Harry Potter's deathly hallows.

We could amend the commandment 'thou shalt not steal' to 'thou shalt not steal copious quantities of money, thou shalt instead siphon off bits of cash and kind on a steady basis and hope that no one notices, not even the Lord'. This takes the burden of guilt off your average run-of-the-mill scammer. It is all right to skim a bit off the top as long as you don't take the cake, the plate and the trimmings. We think someone, perhaps Darbari himself, should come up with a guide to scamming. In this, he could quantify what does or does not amount to a culpable scam.

A few crores may be considered a mere bagatelle. But when it crosses the hundreds of crores, then, maybe, it isn't kosher. These categories could be revised as the cost of living goes up. A scamster has to keep body and Swiss bank account together, for God's sake. Now some of you may feel that any scam howsoever small should not be tolerated and it is not the sum of money but the criminal intent that is unacceptable. But what would you want? For someone to make off with a few paltry crores or the whole treasury? Get your priorities right.