Bribery: Nov. 26th
An ad from The Economic Times (the Wall St. Journal of India):
Representation Needed: Wanted: Person Experienced in the Art of "Lubricating" Top Executives in Banks. Rewards on Results.

Bombay, Bangalore, Delhi, Madras, Calcutta, Hyderabad, Mangalore, Manipal, Trichur, Pune, Patiala, Indore, Bhopal.

Soft-net, A-2/4, Arjun Tower, Opp. Jai-shefali

Row-house, Satellite Road, Ahmedabad-380054

So not only is bribery commonplace, in India, it now has a job description. Bribery in India is a fascinating thing. Public utilities like gas, and phone lines are monopolistic, government-run agencies. Employees cannot be fired, pay is low, and promotion is limited. Corruption is an accepted path to a better life. For example, anyone connected to the accounting of your telephone bill can overcharge you. A useful trick for an enterprising telephone manager is to watch customers, such as ourselves, who have ISD (International Service Dialing). With ISD it is easy to overcharge, since bills are unitemized. If you go to the telephone agency to complain, guess who will be the person who refuses to register your complaint. Consequently most people only make international calls from a public coin-phone, and don’t elect for ISD service. The same is true for long-distance service inside India. Getting a telephone is an equally difficult challenge. The average length of time between registering for a phone and receiving the actual hookup is about two to three years. We had an elderly friend who used part of his retirement bonus to obtain a phone. Unfortunately he passed away a week before his phone was connected (eight years later). One of our more enterprising employees has discovered that if you pay a bribe of 3000 rupees ($100 or 1 month’s salary for my driver Jude) to the right female employee of the telephone agency, you can get your phone in six to eight weeks. You have to bribe the right amount though. A less experienced Indian expat, who had grown up here as a child and came back as an adult, paid 35,000 rupees ($1000). After six weeks, nothing had happened. Upon inquiry, he was told that if he could pay $1000, he could probably pay another $200, and then things might happen. Needless to say, after-market service is equally tricky negotiating. If you are presented with a catch-22, or some incredibly needless bureaucracy, you have to ask yourself if this is a thinly veiled request for a bribe. Experiences like this have resulted in these agencies being renamed public futilities.