The first episode of comedy collective All India Bakchod's news comedy show, On Air With AIB, had a segment on the sorry fate of whistleblowers in India. Comedian Rohan Joshi had summed it all up by asking a rhetorical and fairly cynical question: "Why be good?"
The story of 36-year-old Pravin Mohare, as reported by Mumbai Mirror, is the kind that makes one nod vigourously in agreement with AIB's stance.
In August 2014, Mohare was being written about and appreciated for his efforts that led to the ouster of Rakesh Kumar, former CEO of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC, commonly referred to as the Censor Board). A film agent who worked with producers by way of helping them procure the necessary certificates required for any film to release theatrically, he had worked with the Central Bureau of Investigation and recorded evidence of Kumar accepting a bribe of ₹50,000 from him to facilitate the process. The CBFC immediately suspended Kumar; he was also arrested by the CBI.
At the time, Mohare had been in the business for nearly a decade and was doing well for himself, reportedly earning around ₹80,000 a month. Shortly after Kumar's arrest, Mohare told Mumbai Mirror that he was "not welcome" at the CBFC office anymore. Fellow agents and producers shied away from him; the latter stopped giving him work. He was denied access at the board's office (by blocking his film producer facilitator ID) and, according to him, CBFC officials had deliberately stopped accepting his applications for certification — thus ensuring that there was no way he could continue working as a film agent anymore.
Today, less than two years since, Mohare, the father of a four-year-old girl, makes his living in a drastically different manner: he owns a small vegetable stall in suburban Mumbai, toiling for several hours every day to make roughly ₹600.
"I am paying a huge price for raising my voice and acting against corruption. I feel sad to see my wife and daughter suffer because of my deed," he was quoted as saying in Monday's report.
This is in stark contrast to what he'd said to the same newspaper around 18 months ago: "I have done nothing wrong. Shouldn't we stand up for what is right and make efforts to cleanse the system?"
To make matters worse, the CBI is yet to return the sum of ₹50,000 that was used to nab Kumar, despite repeated attempts by Mohare, who provided the money, to recover it from them. It was supposed to have been returned within 45-60 days.
The reluctant vegetable vendor has a grim warning for anybody looking to expose corruption. ""Though it's late, but I have learnt my lesson. You are all alone if you are fighting against corruption. No one comes to support you," he said.
Indeed, why be good?
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