In the rapidly developing, industrialised, fast moving, materialistic world of today, there can be no doubt of the fact that when money speaks, the truth falls silent. This Russian proverb has been proved true countless times. Power and money reign supreme. In fact, money has become synonymous with superiority, royalty, influence and of course, corruption.
It is no less than the ultimate God to some people, who worship the faces on the currency notes! While we all have great respect for Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, my firm belief is that our respect should extend only up to his acts and lifestyle, not further up to the notes his face is printed on.
Everything in our world has become money oriented. I do not simply refer to India, but most other countries too. Money has always been immortal; for example, the demonetization organised by our respected Prime Minister Narendra Modi certainly brought about a slight change in the black market scams going on in India, but nevertheless, its power still stands.
The Failure of Legal Systems
The values of honesty, truthfulness and justice have fallen short of making any impact on people, especially those who hold the reins of power. They are now mere words found in dictionaries, often repeated in electoral campaign speeches, and maybe holding an irrelevant place of pride in our Constitution, Article 14 of which guarantees equality before law and equal protection of laws.
There is also the concept of legal aid as is upheld in the 40th paragraph of the ‘Magna Carta’ signed by King John in 1215 in England, which is held to be relevant to this day and which says, “To no one will we sell, deny or delay right of justice.” Also, article 39A of the Constitution of India provides for equal justice and free legal aid. It is, therefore clear that the State has been ordained to secure a legal system, which promotes justice on the basis of equal opportunity.
Yet we often find that this sentiment has been unlawfully breached. Lawyers appointed by firms to fight on behalf of needy families, often find their pockets full of cash from the opposition party. In the event that this doesn’t occur, the case drags on for years together, and the nominal fee paid by the family slowly increases to a burdensome amount.
A young girl in France, named Lily Rose, is being forced to live with a sexual abuser, who unfortunately is her biological father. Her parents had been divorced, and the custody rights were originally given to the mother. However, in less than a few months, the mother was imprisoned for protecting her daughter by apparently “not allowing the father his rights of visiting”.
The Court, despite having heard the girl’s horrifying screams and yells, stands unmoved, and sent the girl to live with her father. Does this not reek of influence and monetary power?
But that’s not all. Even our schools and universities that claim to ingrain the lessons of truth in their students are guilty of choosing wads of cash over deserving students.
In 2016, 11 teachers from Atlanta were found guilty of changing up to 250,000 wrong answers on standardised tests for primary school children. The investigation grew out of a series of reports by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper, which pointed out that many school districts linked teacher’s bonuses to improvements in test results. The results of standardised tests can affect the funding available to school districts.
But one cannot accuse the schools alone. In some cases, the parents are the ones responsible for overpowering the truth with their money. A recent example is the alleged college admission cheating scandal in the US, which accuses the rich and famous of paying vast sums to fraudulently enhance their children’s prospects.
It had sparked a controversial conversation over the role played by money and privilege in the US education system. The scandal involves various illegal tactics to boost the probability that the children of wealthy parents will be admitted to elite universities. Celebrities accused included Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman.
Not all the tactics used by wealthy parents to improve their children’s chances of studying at prestigious institutions are illegal. The culture of parents making hefty donations to a university to boost their child’s prospects is a well-known phenomenon in the US. The connection between large donations and admissions is murky, although some recent examples shed light on the issue.
An article in the Reporter notes that Steven A. Cohen, the hedge fund billionaire, gave $5 million to the University of Southern California (USC) in 2014, through his foundation. The university hailed the gift at the time as the largest ever received by its School of Cinematic Arts for student aid. What the press release didn’t note was that the gift followed the highly competitive school’s decision to admit Cohen’s twin daughters.
Even the hospitals of today treat patients on the basis of availability of money, and not on the seriousness of the issue. Parul Bhasin Verma shared on social media that when her mother fell ill after accidentally inhaling ammonia, she was diagnosed with Liver Cirrhosis (the end stage of liver disease) and was taken to B L Kapoor Hospital, Delhi where they spent over 1.2 crores and are now paying a huge debt. Her mother was mostly unconscious during her stay at the hospital and as soon as the family ran out of money, she was discharged and asked to leave. She did not survive after she was sent home.
In another instance, Medanta Hospital, Gurgaon overcharged a 7-year-old patient and it was proved so by reports. The doctors knew long before that the child’s condition was too delicate and that there was no chance that they would be able to save him. Despite that, they kept Saurya Pratap, the patient, under treatment in the hospital for 22 days, charging the family a total of 17 lakhs, and the child lost his life after being discharged from the hospital.
It’s bizarre how healthcare has become a money minting business for many hospitals and doctors, who have sworn the Hippocratic Oath to save our lives and treat us to the best of their abilities, are among the main culprits. Are the best of their abilities extended to duping us?
Other Scams Uncovered
Another example of how the truth fell silent in front of money is the famous Operation West End that occurred in the year 2000. Of course, thanks to this sting operation, the truth did come out in the end, but the incident cannot be easily forgotten.
A team of journalists from Tehelka Magazine, in order to conduct the operation, fabricated an arms company called West End International. They made contact with members of the then defence ministry, who asked for and accepted bribes, slowly selling out the security of India. Even after the investigation was released to the public, the journalists who carried it out were arrested and imprisoned without charges. There speaks the power of money!
Countless rapists, sexual offenders, and other sorts of criminals are roaming free on the roads today. Pedophiles are leering creepily at young girls. Gamblers and bookies are deciding their next targets, while conmen are working on more scams. Simply because they know that the power of money can bail them out or prevent them from going to jail in the first place.
And we wouldn’t ever know who they are, because that’s the power of money. It even influences the media, the lone voice of truth, so much so that the entire matter is hushed up and no one would be any the wiser.
India is the ‘Most Corrupt Country in the Asia-Pacific Region’, according to a recent study by Transparency International, a Berlin-based NGO working against corruption. Seven out of 10 people in India, as the study stated, had to pay a bribe to access public services.
The bribes and scams, countless and untold, only prove that truth falls silent when money speaks. A bag full of money can easily defeat truckloads of truth, for the truth is often bitter but the fruits of money always taste sweet.
I would like to conclude with a lovely poem by Robert Nicolli called True Nobility.
“I ask not for his lineage,
I ask not for his name;
If manliness be in his heart,
He noble birth may claim.
I care not though of this world’s wealth
But slender be his part,
If yes, you answer, when I ask
Hath he a true man’s heart?
I ask not from what land he came,
Nor where his youth was nursed;
If pure the stream, it matters not
The spot from whence it burst.
The palace or the hovel,
Where first his life began,
I seek not for; but answer this,
Is he an honest man?”
How amazing it would be if we all practised as this poem preaches, and rejoiced in virtue instead of money!