Not so long ago, there was a time when an appreciation of Rs. 3 worked but today even a hike of Rs. 1,000 doesn't encourage us to work harder. There was a time when a graduate or for that matter even a matriculate got a decent job but today post-graduates fail to find suitable employment. Things have come to such a pass that our unemployed youth often fall prey to drug and alcohol abuse.
There was a time when petrol cost Rs. 2 a litre and today we need to shell out Rs. 75 for a litre. It only shows the inflation we are reeling under and how strong our economy is.
There were days when people used to save their hard-earned at home but today those who can afford to make a fortune choose to hoard their black money in Swiss banks. No wonder India ranks eighth among 150 countries with an outflow of $1.6 billion in the form of corruption, bribery and kickbacks.
There were days when corruption was so low that people chose dignity and integrity over money but today our nation is looted by its politicians and industrialists who couldn't care less about its integrity.
Nowadays, if we approach the police for any legal or illegal work, we are told the ratio and count of "Gandhi notes" (read currency notes) required. If the work is illegal, chances are it will be taken up on priority. The fault is not theirs but ours. We offer them the money.
The state of corruption brings to mind a true story. In the 1970s, there was cop who received hundreds of appreciation letters of Rs. 3 and Rs. 5 as tokens of appreciation when he would catch thieves, smugglers and other law offenders. These awards encouraged him to take on the corrupt with gusto. He would say, "Corruption kills the integrity of a man."
Once an officer came to him, seeking his help in clearing an illegal task. The cop refused. The next day the officer returned with a bag full of currency notes only to be turned back, with the bag of course. The officer persisted by approaching a relative of the policeman, hoping he would be able to buy his integrity. The relative got an earful for paying heed to the officer's request.
Last year, two policemen came to our village looking for DSP Harbans Singh. We were taken aback at first. Then one of them said, "We need a photograph of DSP sahib as our department is publishing a magazine in memory of their worthy officers." I proudly ran to get a picture of my grandfather for whom integrity meant more than anything else.
Not so long ago, integrity was easier to come by, today it has become difficult to find examples to emulate.