Thursday, October 28, 2010

Abuse of Public Property

October 27, 2010

Mr Leela Mani Paudyal
Prime Minister’s Office

Dear Leela Manijee

I have been closely following the whole episode from the very beginning including the discourse in NNSD triggered by your action and I have also read your lengthy article on the subject in Nepali vernacular daily, Nagrik with keen interest.

I am now getting a bit worried that the important issue here will get overshadowed. Abuse of government property too is a form of corruption and this has become so ubiquitous that people take it in their stride (meaning without complaining). Even those people who wouldn’t accept bribe do indulge in the corrupt activity of misusing government property. I have known a number of bureaucrats of high integrity (whose breeds seems to be on the verge of extinction as everyone seems to be joining the club) who wouldn’t bat an eyelid before using government vehicle for personal purposes. Many present and former bureaucrats have joined in in this discourse. But I have an inkling that only a very few of them have been exception in this respect as you have been.

People resort to this for several reasons. First of all it (the vehicle) is simply there and for ordinary mortals it is difficult to suppress the temptation to get driven in a comfortable vehicle that is at one’s disposal and instead ride a public transport.

Secondly, the feeling of self importance makes it difficult for them to be seen riding a public transport with the ordinary folks.

Thirdly, the family pressure in these matters is very difficult not to give in, especially when bureaucrats of lower echelon and their distant relatives are doing it. Therefore, for all this your family too deserves to be applauded for their solidarity with you and/or for suppressing their desire to be gliding through in a comfortable “high-heeled four wheel vehicle” (Pajero, Prado, Bolero, etc.), probably with controlled environment (with AC). I salute them in real earnest for agreeing to ride public transport in total disregard of their physical comfort.

In this backdrop it is time for the black sheep (corrupt people) to be stigmatized and we should ostracize the breed. We can so do at least in this forum. We can start by starting to compile white list and a black list. Leela Manijee’s name should figure at the top of the white list as we would be starting this list from this incident. And any of us noticing bureaucrats using government vehicle for private purposes should report to the forum for inclusion in the black list.

Interestingly TI has recently come up with its report on corruption putting Nepal at the bottom of the list. Looks like we are destined to live with this unless we, the people, rise and demand a change. But most members of this forum will not be aware of an interesting facet of TI in Nepal which had a vice president at one point in time who was in the black list for defaulting bank loan. I am sure that some of the members of this forum have already guessed his name but I am not prepared to stoop down to print his name. I used to feel amused when he would deliver long winded lectures on corruption.

With best regards,


Ratna Sansar Shrestha, FCA
Senior Water Resource Analyst

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