Bribery 101 – how (not) to improve Nepali Kleptocracy

The morning breakfast discussion today was about Syria and how the Assad regime is killing people in the name of rebel politics. We all agreed on strongly condemning  the use of Nerve gas, but were divided on foreign intervention to a country in Civil War. Through some interesting topics that included crazy North Korean leader, to Geese chasing dogs, and Orange Chicken Eggs, we then turned to bribery. This got interesting on one fact on how developed nations when compared to developing ones (like Nepal) have legalized way of bribing, and how “pre” and “post” bribing makes a difference.

World Map
image – perception of corruption

Regular Nepali Bribing – the post bribing affairIn Nepal and most of the South Asia (personal generalized notion), we have a form of bribing which is crude and rudimentary.  Though there is a strong culture of political campaign bribing as a form of pre bribing; most of the bribing is done only after the one is in post/power. “The One” here denotes the individuals/organization or corporation who are at the receiving end of bribery. For better understanding let us give these cohort some names.

  • giver (lets call them – “G”)  =  any individual/organization or corporation who are giving bribes, and/or who want certain specific things get done.
  • taker (lets call them – “T”)= any individual/organization or corporation who are taking bribes, and/or whi have the power to get something done.

Two pre bribing examples in Nepal

  • Business and Cooperate House bribing the Tax Collecting Institutes [only after there is a problem]
  • Employees, managers, or salespeople of a business may offer money or gifts to a potential client in exchange for business.

In both these cases, bribing is the affair among the one who can make a difference, and the one who wants to get the difference. Developed Bribing – the pre bribing affair The knowledge of “pre-bribibg” is very new to me, and as such, I may not have the grasp of the idea presented here. Any comments/examples and suggestions are highly welcome. The pre bribing efforts are bigger compared to post bribing, in a sense that there is high stake game here among both the parties. Bribing here is more akin to the political campaign, before “T”s are in position/power to make a difference. This came as a very interesting thought to me, as “T”s have not yet reached to a position that can make a difference. Bribing now, is in no means a bribe, but a mere help for future assurance. The amount of money (or any replacement of it) is in larger proportion and with a more rigid stance for future obligations between both the “G”s and “T”s.

The comparison

# feature post bribing pre bribing
1 money involved less very high
2 momentum of bribe less more
3 assurance security for “T”s immediate late
4 stakes for both “G”s and “T”s low high
5 benefits short-term long-term
6 area involved mostly in developing world, involving smaller population and unstable governments.- plus political campaigns mostly in developed world with large cash reserves and stable governments.

The Fundamentals of Bribing

  1. Shakedown
  2. Negotiation
  3. Deal

(Bad) examples of bribing in Nepal (for my age)

  • Bribing the traffic police within the city – to get away with driving under alcohol
  • Bribing the traffic police / regular police on the highway – to get away with .. (so many things, except may be killing)
  • Bribing to get Drivers License – last I checked it was Nrs.14,000 for a combo license for bikes and four wheels (small). Don’t know what it is today. Disclosure – I got my license in all legal and legitimate method.
  • Bribing at government offices

3 Rules – of (not) Bribing

This is the part of this blog post which has some basic good words in it. More like a preventive features on how not to bribe. Back in Nepal, there is a lot of bribing day-in-and-out. I am not proud of it, but I have on occasions bribed few “T”s to get my things done. Bribing can however be thwarted by few right measures. Following three rules are taken from the internet, and I think they are wonderful. [1]

  1. Know the laws. The more information you have the better position you are in to resist the fear that can lead to a bribe.
  2. Never give a bribe to someone just to gain a free or exclusive benefit. You end up contributing to the ruin of that which you came to see in the first place.
  3. Don’t put yourself in a compromising situation to begin with.

Going Back – ..my corruption hypothesis..

I wrote something about corruption back in January 2013. Here is the link to the article. This article is the follow up for it. Once again, the formula is

corruption = greed + opportunity

so how do we (not) improve?

simple, switch the type of bribery from “post” to “pre” and you get a larger scale bribery. Its not there in Nepal, not yet.

Read More

  1. My Own Article – my corruption hypothesis – from Nepal [blog post]
  2. When to Bribe? How to Bribe? Do you bribe? [Todd’s Wandering] [blog post]
  3. Bribery [Wikipedia] [web link]
  4. Study Finds 40% of South Asians Have Paid a Bribe in the Past Year [report]

of Castes and Cows

I got curious on farming and cattle herding. Tried some internet search, asked around and here I am sharing of what I know. My question – Is there a relation between cattle herding and caste system in Nepal? From what I know, there is a definite relation, but I want to know at what extend.

NP! ID: 328008 Title: Nepali cow // File Size: 799 × 526 – 397.95 KB
Created: Wed, 05/09/2007 – 7:16pm // Modified: Wed, 05/09/2007 – 6:19pm
File Type: image (jpeg) // License: Public Domain

Writing something about “Cow” always reminds me of my primary school English teachers, and how we had to write about essays related to cows, mother, green Earth, and Forest in Nepal. My love for education at the moment, justifiably, was improper and poor. My parents were once informed that I would always ne a below average student, and that my English was so poor that I’d need a tuition for it, at a monthly price of Nrs.3500. This was grade three (1993) when my monthly tuition fee was Nrs.1200. Yeah, and the English Teacher was non Nepali, with fluent British-Indian Accent. I do not remember anything else about her, but my guess is that she was from Sikkim, or Darjeeling in India, unmarried and living in Kathmandu at the moment.

A cow (status) in our society

A 2010 blog (here) has made an excellent points on cow-status. Yes its revered, its worshipped, and we cannot kill it, even if its already dying, but not dead yet. When a cow (or few of them) get Mad-Cow-Disease (or any other non infectious or infectious diseases) we cannot kill. At best, we try to quarantine it. Also, there is no culling of this animal. If a cow  herder/s that are smart, however, opt for some shady ways, by which a diseased cow, vanishes the next morning.

According to a Lodi News-Sentinel news story written in the 1960s, in then contemporary Nepal an individual could serve three months in jail for killing a pedestrian, but one year for injuring a cow, and life imprisonment for killing a cow. Seriously, its here. According to Vedic scriptures they are to be treated with the same respect ‘as one’s mother’ because of the milk they provide. They appear in numerous stories from the Puran (English word is Puranas) and Ved (English word is Vedas). The deity Krishna was brought up in a family of cow herders, and given the name Govinda (protector of the cows). In a related cattle worshipping matter, my favorite Hindu diety Shiva is traditionally said to ride on the back of a bull named Nandi. So much is the importance for this one animal species. This got me thinking, was its care taken by elite people in arm, or a normal person.

As one of the jewels in Hinduism, who takes care of it (Cow) ? by elite guards or normal pheasant?

what does cow do?

In South Asian context, its primary use is for milk and milk based dairy product. These days, a dead cow (not killed, I’m just saying a cow can die of natural causes) can also fetch for leather goods. Internationally, meat of a adult cow (also known as beef) is a big hit. Apparently its very high in demand. Global beef production is virtually unchanged at 57.5 million tons (pdf file) in 2012-13, with India as a lead beef exporter (18.53%) as of April of 2012. A very convoluted conclusion, Ironic as one probably should get imprisoned for doing this in countries like India and Nepal. I took this information from a report here. Lastly, there is also cow dung and urine used in some yucky  religious and good economical way.

wait what? India as a lead beef exporter (18.53%) in the world .

Cow dung, or “gobar” is used in very many ways, including as a cooking gas. Well other animal shit (including those from humans) are also used as biogas. Two papers published in 2009, from Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews – Elsevier explain more on the benefit of biogas in Nepal, (Abstract available here and here). I could not afford to read these papers, SciVerse demanded $37.95, but abstract reading sounds promising.  Will not write about the yucky  part, where people touch and revere this fecal matter. Its an animal shit that is being worshiped at. What could be more irksome?

of caste and cows

Back to my primary reason for this post. After a good amount of time spend on Internet and asking around here is what I found about the Methodologically  Implanted Slavery (MIS) and cows.

Turns out, me being a Brahmin (one of the four Varnas in one group of Nepali cohort) am free to be a herder. I can be a cattle farmer. In other news, not so long ago (say 50-60 years), a Brahmin could not be a regular land farmer, that I was not allowed to plow land (neither with buffalo/ox/oxen nor a machine). In a similar respect, Newars in Kathmandu Valley also could not plough a land with bigger plough (called “Halo” or “Hali” in Nepali) and were limited to “Kodalo” (smaller in size). In Kathmandu, this was Newari religion; it was said that Lord Pashupatinath would get angry.

[To make my stance clear, I do not believe Newari Culture originally to be in the same Varnas (meaning particular sect of cultural) where Brahmins, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Sudra were divided.  Newari culture have their own higher and lower caste within them. This is true for Madhesi and the various Mongoloid culture in Nepal also. Each of these culture includes high ranking priests and low ranking untouchables, but somehow only Brahmins (13% of total population) get the blame game of being supreme, smart-a$s. Will write about this very soon.]

past/present?

What was intriguing was who looked after the cattle grazing few decades ago. According to my parents, my father (from South Terai belt in Nepal) tells me that any caste/culture could be a cow herder. There were also no limits in who could milk the cow. Only after the milk was boiled/warmed, were the untouchables not allowed. Yes, it is inhumane. While my mother (from Hills in Western Nepal) tells that milking the cow by lower caste was not allowed in the village she grew up.  But now, with education and human rights campaign, any or all the caste in Nepal, are able to be a cattle farmer, with no limitations. Obviously, there are always some places, which may defy this progress, and still remain obsolete and uneducated.

Why was there discrepancy ?  I have few theories, which might not be true.

  1. I think, that the whole purpose of making “cow” a revered animal was that no one would be able to harm it, be it friend or enemy – it was very useful economical indicator of a well to do rich family.
  2. High priest of most South Asian Culture were not allowed to eat meat. My guess is, early on, someone definitely must have figured out that beef was good meat. In order to stop this, the smart(ass) people, made a god out of this animal; stopped its killing for meat, and used it as a sole purpose of Milk and Dairy products.
  3. But animal it was. It needed someone who could take care. Hence, the very likely, densely populated lower caste were utilized to graze and feed the cows. Now, no-one could kill a cow at all. Killing for beef meat was out of question.
  4. Huge, Fertile and Flat land in Terai (South Nepal) meant bigger cattle herds, which required many farmers. Hence the rules that might have been, were relaxed, till a point where the smart(ass) population could only discriminate after the milk was boiled/warmed/or inside their kitchen. Less land in Hilly region, meant less cattle, and the milking  was kept among those that were “touchable”.

so do I like beef?

No, not till now. I haven’t had beef till date. Its about respecting one’s culture, so I guess I won’t go this path. Although, I know there are a lot of things that my culture needs to improve on. For the record I believe in Asthik, Atheist Hindu. Don’t believe in god, but believe in Hinduism and the religion. Yes, we have this in Hinduism. read more here.

a corrupted week – examples from ktm

here is a brief schedule of the week, where I noted some examples of corruption. Plain and simple corruption.

1. Wednesday – a taxi fare for 3.2km – Chabahil to Kupondole Height took me Nrs 250. We went there to attend one of our friends wedding. Good wedding reception and yes, great food. Met ten of the forty-five friends from medical school. This is by all account, a good number. corruption – when coming back – the taxi fare suddenly inflated to Nrs.450. Same distance, Same sets of lanes, and roads taken; but somehow, within a span of two hours, we were to pay more. We ended up paying Nrs.300 on a very sour note.

2. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday – We were called back and forth to Ministry of Health, Department of Health Services and few other Government Departments – for the approval of an expansion that Team Nidan was looking forward for the Dhanauji COPC. There is a government Health post in the outskirt of Dhanauji VDC, which has a capacity of 15 beds, a minor surgical room, and posting of three to five medical personnel (doctors, nurses, and paramedics). Currently, for teh last five years, there is only one paramedic working there. Its in a state of coma, non-functional and dying. corruption – for the last 15 days, we have been asking around if Team Nidan could take a responsibility of this health post and make it a community managed health facility. No one in the ministry is ready to talk, or give us more information on this. There is already an example of this in Nepal (NyayaHealth) – a Public-Private-Partnership. Our goal is not to run a tertiary health center like Nyaya Health but to see a functional primary health post with community engagement. No one in all the health related departments of the government is ready to divulge more information on this. There answer was that, Nyaya Health was a foreign funded and with big money backing.

so being a junior doctor, with good intention, to improve on a thing that is already broken (health post) needs us to find a big player?

Infuriating ! every one in the health related department of the government is associated with one or two of his/her own NGO and INGO. I cannot yet prove it, but this is what I found. Every able and smart person has an affiliation with at least one source of outer income in the health ministry, and department of health sciences. A sorry state considering that this somewhat illegal.

3. Friday – This was the day when I listened to a BBC documentary about the richest non-profit in the world. I didn’t knew this, but FIFA is a non-profit.

corruption – yesterday I learned the deep dark secretes of Football in Nepal, and how corrupt it is. I will not be writing the whole story here, but it turns out few top brasses in Nepal Football Arena, are controlling everything. They do not let healthy competition, new ideas, new team, and better utilization of the international fund money that comes to Nepal. A huge amount of money is being siphoned into their personal coffers.

4. Sunday Newspaper – Its about the Government Officials and there transfer into different government department. The Undersecretary disputes between the Law Department Vs all the other government department. As soon after a Supreme Court Judge was made the prime minister of this country, there came a law by which, the undersecretary of the Ministry of Law (Law and Order Departments) could get transferred to any other department, easily, while the same was not true for anyone to get transferred into the Law Departments. corruption – creating a one way valve, for those in ministry of law, by which there personnel could get transferred to any other government department, while not letting anyone new come to there own place. This is some how justifiable by the fact that studying law is difficult.

My question is isn’t anything else, like medicine?

5. Bhatbhateni Superstores in Kathmandu – and the communist led unions in them. – These have created a difficult situation for the consumers like me, where I see the salesperson slacking of, and not on-par with what they should be. Its a ten minutes walk from my place to the nearest BhatBhateni Superstores in Chuccepati, but somehow, even with all the cheap and good stuff available there, I always come out spending less, due to the lack of salesmanship (or womanship) in there. corruption – The communist led union, does not let hire-n-fire rule get effective, and so sales people (mostly girls) are mostly dim-wits who have very less idea on what they are selling. Case in point, on Saturday I had to ask three salespeople three different things, and none could help me. This was with a slight swagger on their part, that they didn’t even looked worried or helpful enough. I also heard (from rumors) that the owner is frankly in a paralyzed state due to this corrupt union, which takes Nrs.100 per month from every staff, for whatever-they-think-is-right stuff. For me, I label it as Maoist Extortion (obviously, this may be my personal clouded judgement).

6. Janak Sikshya Sadan – (or something like that) is the national press in Nepal, responsible for publishing government/public school textbook. Its a huge body of people who have only one job every year – to provide books to each and every school children in government school (public and few private). Every year, there is a huge gap and demand of books that lasts for about two months, well into the new educational year. So a student basically needs to wait at most two month to get books. corruption – The press, has one whole year to print books, manage it, disperse it and make it available in April of every year. Somehow, every year (for the last 6-7 years) they are still printing books in late April and early May. “The commission game” runs big, and the system that takes care of distribution is worn out with corruption.

okay, this was my weeks corruption list. I can write more, but I think, these are the stuffs that disturbs me the most. Hope to find few more, and add up to the list.