Don’t let them free . . !


IT can’t be done! “It can! And it will be done!” I insisted looking at the contractor, while sadly staring at the terrace he’d messed up with shoddy workmanship, “And till it’s done, we hold your payment!”

I listened, as his shrill voice reached a crescendo, and threats rang out. But I was fortunate in having others who stood by me. Today, I stare at the work, redone by him. It’s exactly what I’d wanted my terrace to be!

“Why?” I had his supervisor yesterday, “What prevented you from doing a good job at the beginning!” “You insisted sir!” he said smugly. There’s a job for over a crore that I knew needed a contractor, but I did not recommend this man!

I didn’t want to set him free among others he would fool. And because we do not insist on quality, responsibility or accountability, we set these cheats free among the innocent. It’s not easy to be vigilant, oh no it isn’t. As I listened to his rising voice and threats that day, I remember wondering if it was worth it.

My thoughts go back a few years to when I was honorary secretary of a trust. I noticed the treasurer, a priest, at a board meeting had no idea about anything on the balance sheet he’d signed.

Seeing this ignorance, I decided as hon. secretary to ask for the cheque books. I found to my astonishment he had signed nearly a hundred blank cheques. The same way he knew nothing about the balance sheet showed he wanted to know nothing of how the trust’s donations were being spent.

I took photos of every signed blank cheque and called for a board meeting to ask for his resignation. He and the chairman, illegally, got a chartered accountant to attend the meeting and I remember watching incredulously even as an overhead light bounced off the shiny bald-headed accountant, his defending the treasurer, saying, ‘this just a mistake, it’s only a pimple!’ The man was not removed!

A few weeks ago, I heard his irresponsibility had grown even more. Now promoted as the local bishop’s executive secretary, his old modus-operandi had not changed. I heard he now signed blank sheets of paper and kept them in the bishop’s office, and just as he had done with the cheques, phoned the staff from home, dictated a letter and they got it printed on the signed blank sheet.

Imagine! Just, one document misused could have crores of rupees in land or property transferred! Which is what’s happening with religious property all over! So, who’s to blame? You and me of course! We with our ‘it’s just a pimple’ or ‘chalta hai’ attitudes allow these clever manipulators to get away.

Till one day, your property disappears, your building collapses, your bank files for bankruptcy, your money is embezzled, all because at some previous time, you let them free! Don’t..!


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