Is it in our DNA? Or is it a cultural problem?
When the fear of death during the pandemic was cast among the minds of the people across the country as well as the world, I thought the time had come for some soul-searching, and that we may be able to change ourselves for the better.
I thought we would rise to the occasion and lead a better and positive life, be more honest, care for each other, and be less money-mongering. We thought the pandemic had made a positive impact on our greed-drenched psyche.
Unfortunately, in our case, that didn’t happen at all. We continued to nurture our corruption-packed miserable mind-sets more than before. In fact, the coronavirus has created a fantastic opportunity for us to be more corrupt, greedier, and more prone to cheating the common people.
The worst example of our falling further down the corruption abyss is the chairperson of a hospital who has been accused of providing fake test results to people who had gone there for Covid-19 tests. His health care establishment was also charging money for a test that is meant to be free for the people. The registration of his hospital had also expired, and it was no longer allowed to operate, but it was still operating.
We also have another chairperson of another hospital, a lady cardiac surgeon, along with her so-called husband, who reportedly has been committing the same crime. Media reports say that she used to throw away the samples of the patients in the garbage bins and provide fake test reports to them.
Now, to my mind, these are not normal criminals who merely cheat the common people. They are either psychopaths or murderers. And they have been engaging themselves in these heinous crimes for a long time now. We only came to know about them during this difficult time.
I’m pretty sure that these people were enjoying the blessings of many high-ups in the echelons of power all these years. This man has several court cases against him, and yet he wasn’t arrested by the law enforcers. Surely, he was managing his arrest somehow.
The lady doctor had been violating many service rules for a long time, and nobody addressed the issue. So, she went on.
These criminals may be only the tip of the iceberg of our crime world.
Allow me to tell you a little story that happened 20 years ago.
My father, a diabetic and a cancer patient, had fallen ill. He didn’t have any strength, even to walk. We took him to the doctor. The doctor examined the bottle of insulin that he was carrying. The doctors told us that there was no insulin in the bottle; it was soap water -- pure soap water.
So, for several days, my father had been injecting soap water into his blood that he had bought from a pharmacy. Did the pharmacy people know that they were selling fake insulin to the patients, and that it could be deadly to them? Perhaps. But the crime went on, and there was no one to prevent these crimes.
Now, what would you term the persons who had bottled soap water to sell, calling it insulin? I think they are simple killers, nothing less. They are the enemies of the people.
The practice is still continuing till today, even during this pandemic when people need the sincerest help from every corner. I myself have bought some hand sanitizers that were fake. There’s a deluge of fake sanitizers in the market, and no one seems to be bothered about this crime.
From time to time, we hear news of officials running drives against the pharmacies, but there’s no solution at the end of the day.
Covid-19 has come as a boon for many Bangladeshis to indulge themselves in making money in criminal ways. Where did we pick up this heinous habit of extorting the common people during a crisis? Is the characteristic of cheating others in our DNA? Have we inherited this psychology genetically?
Or is it a cultural phenomenon? If this is a cultural problem, we certainly haven’t been addressing it. Rather, we, right from the leadership level, have been nurturing the practice; we don’t want to correct ourselves as a nation.
Take the example of one of our members of parliament who has been arrested in one of the Gulf states for suspicious financial transactions and his alleged involvement in human trafficking. Now, this man has been elected as a law-maker -- a leader -- of the country and his actions have culminated in being thrown into jail in a foreign country.
So this incident also proves that we may be led by the wrong people who don’t care about the people they are meant to serve, as well as the nation which they are meant to uphold.
We are indeed an unfortunate and miserable lot.
But are we going to continue like this -- always stuck in a dark tunnel? Will there be no light for us at the end of it? Will we continue to be branded as a nation of cheats?
Ekram Kabir is a story-teller and a communications professional. His other works can be found on ekramkabir.com.