Corruption of Attitude

Anna Hazare is in Bangalore today. I admire him for what he is and what he stands for. I fully support the anti-corruption movement. Fighting the corruption by implementing stringent rules and provide a framework to enforce them is important. If the top improves, it is easier to lift the whole society.

That is one face and one part of the solution. There is a complementary face that requires a quiet revolution, sensitisation of people about ethical behavior, sense of right and wrong. I verbalise here what is known to all of us, with a request to act against the corruption of attitude in our society and communities.

About eight years ago ObjectOrb Technologies was modelling India Vima,  a health insurance portal that would help the insurance companies, employers and TPAs (Third Party Administrators.) The HR Manager of Titan Industries agreed to discuss with us about the features he would desire in the product. Prithwi, the Project Manager for the product at ObjectOrb, and I, had an interesting dialogue with the HR Manager in his office.

He told that all the employees of Titan were insured for Rs. 50,000 each. Titan could easily insure them for a higher amount, but there was a problem. The employees like to get the Rs. 50,000 reimbursed every year as a perk; they think that the amount is part of their entitlement to be claimed. They produce false certificates of treatment. This operation involved the insurance company agents and doctors.  If an employee is not able to get the money from insurance company, he felt cheated – something rightfully his is denied to him, he thinks. Then it becomes an HR issue. Higher the amount of insurance, greater would be the problem for HR department.

When we approach a hospital, it is appropriate for the doctor and the staff to check if we are health-insured. But, if the battery of tests, treatment plan, and the bill amount rises steep for an insured patient, the system becomes self-defeating. The hospital thinks that the patient does not “pay from his pocket” and the patient agrees silently. An outpatient treatment is converted to a day’s hospitalisation to qualify for insurance claim. Even for routine check-up hospitals are glad to admit one so that the clauses of insurance policy are met to qualify a claim.  If no one pays, how is the money produced? Some unknown set of people, unknown to themselves, sweat to pay for the false claims. More than all else, the system pays by its inefficiency and ineffectiveness.

“I have 15 days of sick leave pending and the year is ending!” laments an employee. We accumulate sick leave so as to avail in bulk and go on a holiday. Sick leave is utilised for all purposes other than to rest and recuperate. On record, one is sick. Falling sick is an official requirement for employees to enjoy the privilege of a few additional days of leave. And, we talk of preventive medicine, healthy life style, nourishing food, and balanced diet … How sickening!

Infamous LTC (Leave Travel Concession) is misused by many. The companies treat the amount as part of CTC (cost to the company) and thus part of the compensation. This is attractive to the employees because the government gives tax exemption to the amount paid as LTC. It is up to the employer to find a proof of travel and genuine expenditure on transport. The employees eagerly wait to spend the LTC money to purchase a new TV or a refrigerator for home.

Proof of travel without travelling, medical certificate without falling sick, fake bills and affidavits for any purpose … These arise from the corruption of values in us. We know that some of our acts are unethical, but ignore that fleeting thought and indulge in what is convenient. We feel enraged when a criminal seeks bail and later goes unpunished and at times with a reward. But we want to be condoned for the series of our micro crimes.

We certainly have to support movements against corruption in the system. Along with that we have to work on ourselves too.

“Hardly anyone still alive is responsible for what happened here; everyone is. But when everyone is guilty, no one is.”

– Michael Lewis, in “Boomerang: The Meltdown Tour”

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About pgbhat

A retired Naval Officer and an educationist. Has experience with software industry. A guest faculty at different institutes and a corporate trainer with software development companies.
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