Just as the painful ordeal of childbirth finally ended and Nesam
Velankanni waited for a nurse to lay her squalling newborn on her
chest, the maternity hospital’s ritual of extortion began.
Before she even glimpsed her baby, she said, a nurse whisked the infant
away and an attendant demanded a bribe. If you want to see your child,
families are told, the price is $12 for a boy and $7 for a girl, a lot
of money for slum dwellers scraping by on a dollar a day. The practice
is common here in the city, surveys confirm.
A 1999 survey by the center found that 9 of 10 families whose relatives
gave birth in the hospitals reported paying a bribe, usually to see the
baby. The average amount paid has since dropped to $7 from about $16.
But 8 in 10 women still reported paying bribes in 2003 – to have their
baby delivered, to see the child after birth, to get their newborn
immunized or to obtain medicines that were supposed to be free.
Here is the story, which also contains a good general discussion of corruption. This is yet another indication why the Indian economy is less of a threat than outsourcing critics might think. Bangalore is arguably one of the most advanced and modern corners of India.