The stolen well

Corruption is rife at all levels, but it’s the common people who suffer silently.

Right from my childhood I have been fascinated by the nests of various birds. I have often closely watched the tiny houses built by crows and especially the ones ingeniously built by the weaver bird dangling tantalisingly. I continue to be amazed by the formation and shapes of those nests and wondered who taught these little birds the required engineering skill in choosing the proper material to weave the tough outer part of the nest to withstand the vagaries of weather and to thwart possible invasion from the predators prowling around, while maintaining soft interior to prevent damage to the eggs and to provide cosy and warm bed to the young birdies after hatching!

Come to think of it, the whole style and design of these nests are akin to ‘parametrical architecture’—as this concept is defined in modern engineering parlance—in which a structure of any shape and form can be constructed using modern techniques while maintaining its strength and stability. Amazingly, these nests are simple models of these techniques.
I have rarely come across a nest being blown away by heavy gales and rains which again speaks of the ingenuity with which the site is carefully chosen and the manner the nests are anchored to the branches to ensure adequate safety against the rage of natural elements. All these delightful things have become possible simply because these innocent little beings are not infected by a dreaded malady called ‘corruption’ and they build the nests for themselves.
Compare this with the innumerable instances of collapse of houses, bridges, columns etc that are constructed by highly qualified brains and trained hands. It is the same mother nature who has bestowed on us humans a higher degree of intelligence and a far superior ability to conceptualise even the most complex things. 

But unfortunately, these gifts are alloyed with a highly toxic element called ‘greed’ which has made a world of difference.

While in primary class we got to know the meaning of corruption through an amusing narration by our teacher, popularly known at that time as ‘the case of stolen well’ that rocked the then administration: It was said that the concerned public works department in a certain zone obtained government sanction for digging a specified number of wells in a few villages near Mysore to tide over water crises. Only a part of the job was executed though the contractual agency was paid in full for all the wells.

The alert panchayat of a certain village, which did not get its sanctioned well, lodged a complaint with the police that their well, supposed to exist as per official records, had been stolen overnight. Subsequently, the matter was duly investigated and the culprits were brought to book.

Now things have undergone a paradigm change — the shrewd ones in power have successfully mastered their skill at performing many such spectacular vanishing tricks involving astronomical sums of public money and getting away unscathed. And the ever-distraught aam aadmi continues to stare helplessly at this mysterious phenomenon!

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