Reporters on the Job

Passage Through India : Staff photographer Andy Nelson and writer Scott Baldauf drove about 2-1/2 hours west of their home base in Delhi to do some of the reporting for today's story – the third in our three-part series on the Indian economy.

When they arrived at the border checkpoint between the states of Rajasthan and Haryana, they found ourselves being drawn into a local dispute over bribes.

"Most truckers just wanted to get their paperwork photocopied, stamped by officials, and then move on. But local businessmen soon pulled us aside to tell us about the 'rampant corruption' among the Rajasthan Tax Authority (RTA)."

"The RTA officials are supposed to direct all trucks onto weighing scales," says Scott, "but in all the time Andy and I were there, none of the trucks were brought up for weighing. Instead, the RTA officials would just look at the paperwork, and eyeball the trucks and pull over those trucks that were loaded above the 13-foot height limit. As we were talking to the locals, the cops were watching us carefully. Then we went to talk with the RTA officials in question about the tax process. They volunteered that no bribes were paid. They offered us sodas, and we accepted. And, all the while, the locals watched us carefully."

David Clark Scott
World editor

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