Engineers and contractors share a relationship that is similar to the one between flowers and bees. The nectar in this relationship is called commission. Bribery is an act that destroys not only this world but also the next; bribery involves fear, stealth, and roguery. But "commission" is a beautiful garden where there is nothing to fear — there is neither fear of men nor fear of God. Even the conscience does not prick. And what to say, a commission is not looked down with contempt. It is a peace-offering, which despite being a murder of morality, has the sanction of religion. In such a situation, Sardar Shiv Singh kept his bright character untainted by this stain, and he deserved to be forgiven if he felt proud about it.

The month of March was drawing to a close. The chief engineer would be arriving for an inspection of the district. But the buildings were still unfinished, and the roads were bad. The contractors had not supplied sand and concrete. Sardar-saheb reminded the contractors every day but to no effect.

He called a meeting of the contractors one day and told them, "Do you want me to be transferred out of this district in disgrace? I have not ill-treated any of you. I could have cancelled your contracts and got the work done, but I did not wish to cause you a loss. I am being punished for that! Well!"

After the meeting ended and the contractors started leaving, there were hushed murmurs.

"Now, he will come to understand the hard facts of life," Mr. Gopaldas said.

"He should, somehow, be moved out of the district," Shahbaz Khan said.

Sheth Chunnilal said, "I know the chief engineer; I have worked with him. He will not tolerate such lapses."

Elderly Haridas, who had been listening to the conversation, said, "Friends, we are only talking of self-interest. The fact is he is a saint. He can earn at least Rs. 10,000 as commission every year. It is not an easy matter to turn your back on such a huge amount. And, here, we go about selling our integrity for a few pennies! It is our misfortune that we should be treating the saintly person so badly who has never demanded a single penny from us and who, despite suffering all kinds of hardships, has never deviated from integrity."

"Yes," Shahbaz Khan agreed, "there can be no doubt that this man is an angel of goodness".

Sheth Chunnilal said gravely, "Khan-saheb, what you say is true. But what can we do? No work gets done through righteousness; the world is full of deceit and corruption."

Mr. Gopaldas was a BA graduate. He said with a touch of haughtiness, "If he wanted to live this way, why did he have to take up a job? Everyone knows one must have good intentions, but you must also ensure that your good intentions don't harm others. We want a person who believes in living well and allows others to live well; we don't want a person who enjoys good food but offers us dry bread. A person who takes a commission of one rupee will see to it that five rupees worth of profit is made. But what about this man! You may say whatever you want, but I can never get along with him."

Shahbaz Khan agreed, "Yes, it is good to be righteous and have a clean character, but the righteousness that makes life difficult for others is of no use."

All those who had agreed with elderly Haridas now felt that Gopaldas was right. In weak souls, the light of truth shines only for brief periods like the short flashes of light emitted by fireflies.


Some useful links for
your career:

  • Union Public Service Commission - www.upsc.gov.in
  • IIT-Kharagpur - www.iitkgp.ac.in
  • Indian Statistical Institute - www.isical.ac.in
  • Indian Institute of Technology Madras - www.iitm.ac.in
  • Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad - www.iimahd.ernet.in
  • Indian Institute of Mass Commission - www.iimc.nic.in
  • IIT Bombay - www.iitb.ac.in
  • Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad - www.ismdhanbad.ac.in
  • Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi - www.bitmesra.ac.in
  • Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training - www.cifnet.nic.in
  • Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (Deemed University) - www.iiita.ac.in
  • Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Kochi - www.cmfri.com
  • Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai - www.tiss.edu