Gift may sound an innocuous expression of love and gratitude but come Diwali, officials of the Indian government will begin feeling jittery as they come under the prying and close eyes of the investigating agencies to the quantum of gift they receive.
Even as the trend of distributing gifts have mellowed down over the years due to sustained efforts of the government and media which took a hardened stand that expensive gifts amount to bribery, the distribution continues.
Diwali is a religious occasion where the largesse from the business and big corporate world spills in the form of gifts as many who receives are the officials and staff in the Indian government.
Knowing the exchange of gifts is nothing but an allurement, not only India but many other countries have fixed an upper limit to which any government officials can accept gift. In India it was earlier Rs 2,000 but the same was increased to Rs 10,000 keeping an eye to the falling value of the Indian rupees, a senior IRS official has confirmed.
In US, no diplomat or government official can accept gift above US$ 100. In 2011 Russia had banned all bureaucrats from accepting any gift which then was allowed to the limit of 3000 roubles (100US $).
Indian bureaucrats and diplomats serving outside had to follow the rule rigorously and more so not to accept an expensive gift liker Cartier watch or Armani suit length at a public function which crosses the limit set by the government.
It may be said that now all top officials of the Indian government do not accept any gift during the festive season. They have gone a step further and even in the marriage of their children it is written clearly on the invitation card “No Gift please only blessings.” It has become a rule in India as the message is loud and clear.
But what happen to those who accept expensive gifts and not declare? If caught, they are tried under the anti corruption laws and face punitive measures.
It will be interesting to watch what will happen this Diwali now when elections are knocking at the Indian door.