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First man to have given a bribe in independent India dies

09, Aug 2009 By Pagal Patrakar

Gorakhpur. Jawahar Tiwari, the first man who had given out a bribe to a government official in independent India, died after prolonged illness today morning. He was 92 years old and was bedridden with malarial fever for over three months.

Jawahar had shot to fame last year when an investigation by an NGO claimed that he was the first person in independent India who was involved in a bribery case, although unregistered and undocumented, as a bribe giver.

“My father had paid the bribe rather reluctantly and after a lot of self rationalization. Initially he had it as a burden on his conscience but later on as he saw the Indian society evolve, he felt proud and used to flaunt his bribe giving stories to everyone, including that NGO which later on published it in their report,” Raju, the eldest among the five children of Jawahar Tiwari who could survive beyond the age of 12, told Faking News.

Stock image of an old office
File photo of Jawahar Tiwari in his office

The story goes back to 1952 when Jawahar Tiwari worked as a ‘malaria officer’ in one of the tribal areas of Jharkhand (then a part of Bihar) entrusted with the task of inoculating people and sanitizing the area against threats of malaria. He was running late on schedule and one of the districts was yet to be visited by him. Jawahar wondered how he would meet his goal as well as the deadline on his job.

“That district always had people dying in summer due to heat strokes and there were hardly any basic amenities available. People didn’t even have water, let alone roads or electricity. My father knew that there was no chance a mosquito could grow or survive in such terrible conditions. Locals could die of any reason but malaria. Therefore he decided to skip that district,” Raju recounted the story.

But Jawahar Tiwari needed to show the district as ‘covered’ by him in the government records, hence he approached the local District Magistrate with his predicament. The DM asked for a bribe in lieu of handing out a fake certificate that his district was covered by Mr. Tiwari. After a lot of introspection Mr. Tiwari agreed to bribe the DM, creating the first ‘successful’ bribery case in independent India as per the NGO.

“We couldn’t track back any older identifiable case of bribery in independent India. Jawaharji shared most of the details but refused to name the district or share the whereabouts of the DM as apparently that guy went on to become a very powerful and respected person in society. Maybe he feared some counterattack,” Maanav Mehta, the coordinator of the NGO that carried out the investigations told Faking News.

Jawahar Tiwari had concealed this incident from most people, including his family members for many years. But when he heard his grandson claiming proudly how he and his friends got admission in a medical college after paying a bribe of 5 lakh rupees each, he wondered if bribery was an ‘in-thing’ and socially acceptable norm in modern times. Convinced, he started sharing his story with everyone.

“We are proud of our father. Very few people had the foresight and guts to carry out such things in those times. He couldn’t take bribe due to some strange feeling of guilt all his life or we would have been really a happy and prosperous family today,” Raju said wistfully.