When Shri Anna Hazare started his protests against corruption, the Middle class joined in with gusto, as this seemed to them to be the one way out of this evil that plagued them regularly. In the TOI, there were several reports and quotes by these people who claimed they had to pay bribes so often.
While this uprising of the Common Man is commendable, there is also something disagreeable about the self-righteous air with which people are condemning corruption. Several of these people, at some stage, would have tried to grease the palm of a traffic policeman and get away with parking in a no-parking area. They would have purchased / sold flats where half the amount would be in black. They would have paid for jewelery and saris in cash to avoid the sales tax that would have to be compulsorily levied upon them had they paid by card. They would have claimed that they are paying rent to their own parents, who live in the same house with them, in order to be able to claim HRA. They would have brought broadband schemes with free night downloads to enable access to pirated movies available online - and then, circulate them among friends as well. They would have searched for freely available illegal pdfs of books they want, rather than buy them off the shelves. Would all of this not classify as corruption - a desire to obtain something for which you do not pay the legal price, or to get something more than that which you are due?
Who is to decide the degree or the severity of the act and decide what is OK and what is not? In Kannada there is a saying - Adike kaddaroo kalla; aane kaddaroo kalla - which means you are a thief - whether you steal a beatel nut or an elephant.
When it comes to bribery, the slogan should be "Neither a giver nor a taker be". As a person who grew up in Bangalore, I can safely vouch for the fact that about upto about 15 years ago, the autowallahs would not start driving with the familiar "20 Rs extra madam, vapaas khaali barabeku". It is inherent human greed and desire to get more than what we normally do - thoda aur wish karo!! - but, this would become a well established practice only if majority of the passengers did actually cough up the extra amount on a regular basis. The autowallahs are not going to sit around all day if they do not find anybody paying them extra.
We, as a society, have encouraged corruption and participated in it for years on end.