Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Faking Times

No matter where or what, there are makers, takers, and fakers.

I don't know when someone called Robert Heinlein, a science fiction writer said this, but nothing is more true as of today.

I mean here is a set of 11 people in a cricket team, who "made " themselves into a match winning team by sheer hard work, guts and intelligent application of mind, they "took" the Cricket World Cup, in a closely fought nail biting final watched by billions across the world. Before the players could reach home, questions were being raised about the trophy being a fake trophy. Why, because an identical world cup trophy came in the baggage of some International Cricket Council official, duty was payable , which was refused, and the trophy now probably is being held together with contraband of all sorts in a cupboard belonging to Customs.

What makes this dicey, is the explanation is that this was a trophy used for promotion purposes, a duty of 15 lakhs Rs was applicable, and the ICC which probably spends that on its annual dinner, refused. I wonder what promotions they were talking about. I wonder if the ICC President who happens to be a central minister thought he could get the duty waived. But it got a huge outcry in the press, which claimed that the players received a Fake trophy.

That this should happen at all is a shame.

But we are not surprised. This is simply the latest occurrence of the dreaded disease of "Fak-itis". Rampant now , within India and even outside it.

There are entire surreptitious industries churning out fake diplomas and degrees , for a price. You do not need to go to college. Or even school. You can choose the University, and the discipline. The advent of the Internet has seen the mushrooming of fake Universities in the US and UK, unrecognized, but shelling out degrees for a price. We are now called the Fake Degree capital of the world. 729 cases of fake degrees of University of Pune, being submitted by people, for jobs, were detected, and 237 such cases for the University of Mumbai. These are currently being investigated. But what do you say of cases, where the University Grants Commission has declared that some of the universities themselves are fake ?

Professional degrees are also being Faked. We have fake medical degrees, fake engineering degrees, and even cases of fake doctorates, purchased from fake US Universities.

Most ordinary folks, start studying for a course when it is declared a requirement for holding a particular post. They declare a doctorate as an essential qualification for being considered for a principalship of any of Mumbai University affiliated colleges. A couple of years ago, the principal of Mumbai's oldest prestigious professional college was removed from his post because it was found that he purchased a doctorate degree from a fake US University. No one noticed when he was appointed, but later enquiries revealed the cheating.

When airline pilots start faking degrees, in collusion with some folks in power, then it becomes a situation of life and death. The news, recently, has been chock-a-block, with daily arrests and investigations of fake pilots, and fake training schools. All being certified, for a price.

Of course, it also becomes a life and death situation when you fake medical degrees, and you start believing that this is actually so when the head of the National Medical Council is arrested for certifying flaky medical colleges and hospitals. For a price , of course.

Faking of birth, death and marriage certificates is child's play. These things are counterfeited to get extra service years before retirement, usurping of assets like land (by declaring someone dead, and this happens in less educated rural areas in UP) , and so on. Faking of passports and various necessary certificates and Ration cards , has been around , but now people are being caught even for faking visas of other countries. Which can not happen without "international co-operation" to put it euphemistically.

Very recently, the police arrested a person in the Thane town planning office, who was actually a fake employee, not even on the payroll, but who sat there for 18 months and sanctioned permissions and stuff (all for a price, of course). He was brought in by the office boss, now in jail .

Apart from faking live people, there is also this issue of counterfeiting everything from money, to drugs, to even cosmetics and chocolates.

That our neighbor countries are dedicated to introducing counterfeit currency into our system is well known .

Then there are some countries, like China, which are now introducing substandard fake drugs into the country. What is more, they are also supplying these drugs to places like Nigeria, with fake "Made in India" tags. A shipment worth crores, of Ciprotab, a flagship item of an Indian company was spuriously made in China without any proper active ingredients , and sent to Nigeria via Frankfurt, without touching Indian shores, but with a made in India tag.

The Indian Commerce ministry is in contact with the Chinese about this. But the counterfeiting continues.

The latest is that they are also supplying cotton outfits to Nigerians, again with the spurious tags , despite shipments coming from China. The Indian government has complained about this too. .

That we have a thriving market in fake international cosmetic brands, purses, clothes, perfumes, and films , is well known, and at least, as far as piracy of films is concerned , something is being done. One secretly admires the workmanship of those, who make copies of international stuff with unpronounceable French names, and sell it for a fraction of the cost to some, and at original cost to some others .

Closer to home, even chocolates haven't escaped counterfeiting. The rural market in India is now very significant. And we have folks who make identical looking chocolates at a fraction of the cost, and supply them to these areas , with a variation in the chocolate name , difficult to notice. Such spurious chocolates now claim to eat into almost 30% of the sales of the authentic manfacturers. And so you have, :

S. No.

Original Product

Fake Product


Dairy Milk
Kit Kat
Coffee Bite
Mango Bite

Daily Milk
Kir Kat
Coffee Toffee
Mango ripe and mango bits

And so when was the last time you had a fake Coke or Fanta ?

At the end of the day, you learn to suspect everyone and everything. You learn to examine everything carefully, whether its a branded phone, a branded outfit, a branded designer thing, a branded electric item , for that matter anything.

Sometimes you even suspect people. And this becomes chronic when you see the fake poverty displayed by election candidates when they specify their earnings and assets , only to have everything multiply "n" times in 5 years, while the real middle class who voted for them remains unchanged, paying their taxes, and cribbing about the price of oils and grains.

After more than 3 decades of working and living in this community , our status recently changed to "retired" folks. For all these years I have been faithfully walking in and out of the Institute Gate to do my marketing for vegetables and sundry items. Some of the security staff has grown up along with me, and are themselves close to retirement.

But lately, every time I struggle in my my bags full of fruits and veggies, I am asked to show my identity card before I can continue in to my residence. Which is a bit of a problem if your small purse containing the card is at the bottom of tomatoes, beans and melons and apples.

But its OK. I don't complain.

It's a sign of the times.

I know !

Maybe , they think I am a fake.......


  1. We had a joke about things made in the USA ( Ulhasnagar Sindhi Association). We are really masters of this art.

  2. We are the 'Fake Experts'. Maybe one day when the term gets some kind of status, we will feel proud of it .. like we feel proud of 14 Nation 'World Cup'!

  3. Good one Suranga. we also know of such a case who fake a whole service book forging the signatures of atleast 3 Principals and submitted it for a lucrative job in a place 2000 kms from Jamshedpur. It came back for verification and a report was sent. I did not hear of any follow up action though. May be she was hired by a fake organization that believes in the adage 'the more the merrier'.

  4. But those spurious drugs are really a danger to be going the rounds....dont the fakers have any heart for those sick ppl who use these drugs ???

    I think its becos we ignore faked things, when it doesn't bother us - and that eventually leads to more faking....

  5. Oh, the list is endless ! Finley, Podhrej, Turf...the list is endless !

    There perhaps are makers, takers, and fakers. And then, there are the jokers ! A class apart !

  6. If we can develop this further, we can out smart the Chinese. They conterfiet drugs and export them to Africa where Indian brands are very popular due to their affordable price, with hard to differentiate packing.
    The counterfeit business mainly is centralised in Ulhas Nagar and Kunnamkulam in Kerala. For example, Wills brand of cigarettes are the special produce of the latter. If the ash at the tip of a burning stick remains in tact until the filter, bet on it, it's a Kunnamkulam one. Sorry folks, but don't you think most of us are fakes too????