Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 2, Issue 56, Tuesday August 2, 2005





Bribery 101

Bribery has been elevated to an art form. Like art, some people like it while others do not. Whatever your preferences, bribery is an integral part of life. It's rather a lot like in-laws whom you may not like but still have to bear with.

Think of all the fresh graduates coming out of the universities. There's so many of them ill prepared as to how to deal with life. Sure they learn a lot of important concepts such as how to package products and how to make an Eskimo buy a shipment of ice cream.

But they don't get any instruction on the fundamentals of how to okay that first shipment. You see, you simply have to bribe someone somewhere. Otherwise you will have to wait a long time during which time the ozone depletion will melt the polar ice caps wiping out the Eskimo race.

This knowledge deficit regarding bribery has to be remedied or the poor youth of today will become the poor old people of tomorrow. For this a university is being set up in some small unused garage somewhere. It will be called something like East Southerly North Western Nowhere. The name is really not important. What matters is the degree on offer and the initial course is called Business Transactions 101. It's the same thing as Bribery 101 but the latter sounds a bit crass.

The course throws a lot of terms and definitions at the prospective students. They have to familiarize themselves with terms like kickback, greasing, sweetener, gifts, donations etc. They could all be synonyms except for the fact that different business use the terms in their own ways. Schools always accept "donations" for enrolling particular students. High officials accept "gifts" that can range from anything from watches to luxury off road vehicles, preferably the latter.

As with all forms of art, bribery also comes in different versions. It can either be full of grace or the finesse of a limping gorilla. Situation demands how you apply the skills.

There are also practical courses that involve practicing sleight of hand techniques taught by magicians such as Jewel Ouch. Dexterity of the hand is much needed as you need to slip in small amounts of cash for services rendered. Field work will be carried out at places like traffic check posts where future Michael Schumachers will demonstrate such techniques as The Handshake where money is transferred discreetly into a police officer's palm.

Then there is The Paper Inspection where the cash is tucked into the fold of the documents being cursorily glanced through. And don't forget The Absentminded Pocket Trick where the offending driver absentmindedly puts his hand into the police officer's trouser pocket. It's rare but it happens.

Such diligence will help the students to be successful in life after they graduate. Phone lines will be connected instantly whereas without the bribe a person will have better luck at calling up Lucifer himself. Occasionally linemen will disconnect your phone line and ask you to pay a little something for "chaa-paani" (tea and snacks).

It's another one of those terms you need to be familiar with. This may sound like robbery but it's actually their way of showing you how to appreciate having had Graham Bell invent the telephone about a couple of hundred years ago. They make you truly understand the value of the line 'absence makes the heart grow fonder'.

Class lectures will be conducted by business people who wheel and deal all the time as well as celebrities such as ministers, police personnel and politicians. This crash course will prevent people from crashing in the face of adversity. Contact the writer for further details and add a little "fee" for advance placement into the program.

So who says money cannot buy happiness? Just put it into someone's hand and look at their widening grin.

By Ehsanur Raza Ronny


Price Hikes.... How Come, How Long?

The nuisance of this price hike has been going on for quite a while now. And there hasn't been any such indication that this situation is likely to improve. The people of Bangladesh survive enduring numerous obstacles. Overwhelmed with poverty and corruption, the people of this country keep on dodging obstructions one after another and yet have accepted this hardship of life for the greater good. But the last thing we wanted is the denial of the access to basic food.

Day in and day out the market is getting out of reach for the decent, law biding and honest country folks, who basically construct the majority of this country. The wild spiraling of prices of daily essentials has been going on for more than three years, without almost any break, defying all laws of gravity.

In these years the prices of the daily essentials have rocketed from 50% to 75% and look set to reach the 100% mark. Even a year ago the prices of the essentials would rise once in three months. But now the citizens horrifyingly witness the crazy hike of prices of essential in every single month. This certainly indicates that this pest of price hike has been a well-designed anarchy that keeps getting ruinous as it is certainly out of control of the authority.

If one looks at the market "sincerely" then the harsh depiction of price twisting is bound to shock every one. It is often we hear that "big time authority" uttering "big" words claiming the market is under control and there is no such price hike incident. But the comparisons of today's scenario from that of the previous years would certainly contradict such claims. In 2001 the amount of rice, which was 13/14 tk per Kg, is now being sold at tk 17/18 at the lowest. The price of coarse flour, which was tk 11/12 in 2001, is now tk 18/20 per kg. Same goes for the lentil pigeon pea which was sold at tk 30/35 in 2001 has now increased to up to 50/52tk. The prices of ginger and garlic have doubled since that time. Sugar is now tk 34/35 which was tk 25/26 back then. And never in the history of Bangladesh has anybody ever dreamt of witnessing a hali (group of four) of eggs being sold at tk 18. The price of powdered milk, which is the crucial food for infants, is increasing every single month by tk 5. While the "big time authority" bluntly denies everything a government census has proved to oppose such declaration by the "honorable authority".

According to that census from the last year the price of rice has increased in 2.5 tk to 4 tk. The prices of coarse flour and finest flour have increased in 12.5% and 8% respectively. The prices of the other essentials like lentil pigeon pea has increased in 16%, garlic 50%, onion 10%, sugar 17%, salt 10%, fish 10-20%, meat and eggs 5% and powdered milk 15%. And these are the result of a government study, which managed to get close to the actual reality, which is far scarier than that of this study.

Who's to blame for all this anarchy?

Some might say this price hike is simply an echo created from some incident in international market economy. Others might say it is due to our frequent natural disasters or the result of country's economic implication towards the development process. But we say it is absolute bull!

Unlike some, we work very hard to earn an honest living and in return we deserve decent price ranges for our essential survival components. It's been going on for years and all the "big time authority" does, is either bluntly deny the truth or hold meeting after meeting, which offer nothings but add insult to our injury.

The question is why would this happen if, as the authority claims, everything is really under control? Maybe because the authorities living in fools' heaven have no idea about the real market scenario and that is why they make such outlandish comments or maybe they absolutely have no control over the "pests" who are responsible for this fiery price hike of essentials.

Whether truly ignorant or in collusion, one thing is for sure; the respective ministry and the authorities have not only deliberately failed to improve the situation but also keep denying the facts as if they themselves are associated with those social vermin who are causing this mayhem.

No words of explanation will able to placate us as we know very well that this price hike is artificial and a very powerful syndicate comprised of corrupts from several sectors of society are involved in it.

Had this price hike issue been an incident of 6 to 8 months then everybody would have agreed that it was due to some unrest. But why would this happen for years and why would the authority brusquely deny this? This is outrageously autocratic! While the corrupts are making millions standing on the hungry stomachs of the people, they should remember one Bangladeshi proverb, "If the stomach is calm, the head also remains calm". If not, well, time will tell.

By Obaidur Rahman


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