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The CUSTOMary corruption
How customs department of India is tricking a corruption
A Mega “Scam”:
One thing that the aam aadmi of India is deprived of nowadays is the news about scams. With the media busy to communalize every quarrel between some Ramesh and Abdul, it is very unlikely that we come across news that matter.
As a frequent traveler, who has traveled to different places and came back to the desh via different airports, I have observed a CUSTOMary corruption that is going around since time immortal. No body seems to think about it and a good amount of money which should come into the system as government revenue is eaten by officials.
Airport Customs have maintained to be on low profile on their way of working and this is helping many corrupt officials to earn that Big Black Buck. There is an interesting part of this type of scam. Unlike other corruptions or bribe where a citizen pays a bribe from her pocket, the CUSTOMary corruption is an understanding between the unethical citizen and chor customs official to deal a win win scheme.
The modus operandi is very simple – work in cash!
Almost all the customs across the country deal in cash. So if one wants to bring a TV or music system or gold he has to pay customs officials in CASH.
Now here comes the interesting part- There is a restriction on the currency notes a person can carry while traveling. Moreover, almost no body takes thousands of rupees abroad (What is the point of taking on the first place unless you are Mallya?).
So when you are back from a foreign soil and you show the official your TV or music system, you are asked to pay customs. Since you do not have cash and most airports do not have ATMs inside, the officer asks you to keep all your luggage there, go out (by taking permission from the security guard) take cash from ATM and be back(after taking permission from security guard. It is ideally not allowed to get in the airport once you are out).
There may be a likelihood that the ATM is not functioning, or there is a crowd in front of the machine. Add to that, not all are safe keeping all the luggage with customs personnel. Consider a traveler coming from the diagonally opposite land in economy class or someone coming after a long day of work. Now there are customs officials or their agents who will HELP you on the tough time and suggest that you pay something to the sahab sitting in an office nearby.
There is a good likelihood that few people who even want to pay the custom would skip foreseeing the trouble of taking the cash!
And we know many want an excuse of not paying full money to the customs. Indeed, why pay Rs 15k customs for your Laptop or TV when things can be settled with 4k? This is not a secret and many travelers along with officers enjoy some extra cash.
Consider the above example I gave- why pay 20k when 4k is enough. Most TVs brought to India may fetch 5k to 50k to the Government. It won’t be an exaggeration to say that EVERY flight coming from the Middle East is having a TV & every flight US is having 2 laptops & 2 phones. If we add the amount of Gold being bought, the amount of tax that can be collected will be astonishing.