Every evening, after the twins belonging to my daughter, messed up the full house with their toys and other paraphernalia which little boys throw all over, she would sing, “Clean Up! Clean Up!” with the twins joining in the singing with their three- year old voices. Then they would run all over, cleaning up, what they’d messed up!

A few years ago, while Anna Hazare and the nation cried themselves hoarse against corruption, a medical association of specialists decided to organize a march against corruption and hundreds trekked a few miles shouting slogans, holding banners over their heads and placards pinned to their chests.

These were the same professionals who gave hefty commissions to local general practitioners to send innocent patients over to them. Sometimes the commissions ran over half the fees collected from the patient, and most often these trips to the specialists were not necessary at all, and were just a way of making a quick buck!

How did these same people walk in the anti-corruption morcha?

And this is not confined to the medical field alone, nor to politicians who are the whipping boys when it comes to such discourses, but also to our religious priests and clergy. Once, while serving as a trustee and secretary on board a religious trust, I found the treasurer who was supposed to know where every penny went, had actually signed nearly a hundred blank cheques (I took photographs of every cheque), and they lay in the trust office, leaving it to the mercy of the staff. I also found the chairman had used donations, to promote his own books, while refusing to pay his staff their small Christmas bonus!

And all this safeguarded by a chartered accountant, who defended the trust saying these were just small mistakes and I should not bring them to light.

 ‘Leave us alone!’ cried the priest and the other trustees. Not only was nothing done but the treasurer was promoted to becoming the chairman and later tried to stand for the post of Bishop of his denomination.

Yet, these same erstwhile people are the first to voice their views against corruption.

How do we rout out corruption when it resides in us?

I think it takes courage to look into oneself. That managing trustee who used funds to sell his book, that priest who signed blank cheques, and couldn’t care a damn how the money was spent may have been good people, who’d slipped into corrupt practices but needed guts to look into themselves and change.

Do we have this courage?

I am sure we do, because finally what will clean the nation is not trying to clean the other person up, but scrubbing ourselves inside out!

Let’s start humming, “Clean Up! Clean Up!” and clean our own mess up, before trying to clean the mess of others around us..!

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