|Democracy on Wheels,
Corruption on Wheels
November 9, 2008
TTE corruption is rampant on IR. Train Ticket Examiners (TTEs)
are stealing from the Indian riding public.
Yeah sure, going green on train toilets which is planned by Indian
Railways, is fantastic provided they work.
If they don't work (wanna bet?) they'll STINK worse than ever. Green
toilets are a welcome, long overdue innovation that will be kind to the
environment and generate savings to the public. It will contribute to the
Greater Collective Good (GCG), my qualitative/quantitative measure for
But what really stinks is flagrant
bribe-taking by train ticket examiners and almost equally flagrant
bribe-giving by the public.
When I am in India which is at least five months every year, I use ONLY
PUBLIC MASS TRANSIT. Buses, trains.
No, not even autorickshaws, unless I have no public transit option.
No aggressive SUVs and private cars for me.
I ride our wonderful always-in-need-of-improvement Indian Railways all the
From Kolkata to Kochi and all points in between. This is
DEMOCRACY ON WHEELS. This makes
sound environmental common sense.
But what is completely unacceptable and damaging is
corruption by Train Ticket Examiners. TTEs collect cash payments on every
from everybody they can squeeze money out of.
Remember, TTEs are already paid wages out of taxpayer money, have secure
lifetime jobs and healthcare, with pensions and benefits upon retirement.
I have NEVER given TTE's a paisa, and never will. Many of my friends and
relatives regularly offer bribes to TTE's.
They complain they cannot 'get anything done' unless they proffer a bribe,
whether to a TTE or a municipal bureaucrat or a
constable who rightly issues them a ticket for a traffic violation.
What distorted, undemocratic, self-serving, unethical thinking and action.
Many Indians, especially middle and upper class Indians (of course they
also belong to the privileged dominant castes)
degrade democracy, abuse their civic rights as well as
their privileges and responsibilities as lawful citizens in India --
an unprecedented democratic nation-state, the world's most populous
a democracy to be proud of, a democracy that needs active and ethical
The TTE's "sell" berths to passengers who have not paid their full fare to
In fact the TTEs run a PARALLEL ECONOMY.
The TTE's run an underground illegal
economy that drains money from the Indian Railways.
The TTEs steal money from taxpayers and line their own pockets, to the
detriment of a public sector service -- rail transport for everybody.
I have seen this happen right in front of my eyes whenever I ride the
trains (second class of course, I am no elitist), of the Indian Railways.
The PEOPLE have the power to change business-as-usual in the IR, by NOT
giving bribes to TTEs. But will they? Will they practice Ethical
Dr. Chithra KarunaKaran
City University of New York (CUNY)
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