By Ritwika Sharma:
It will take a lifetime to wipe out corruption from the face of this country”;
“Nothing can change the face of this nation. It’ll remain the way it has always been”;
“Why dirty your own hands in an effort to clean the country when all you’ll achieve is nothing?”
How many times have we been part of such a conversation where people from different realms of life have in some way suffered at the hands of the numerous ailments crippling our nation? How many times have we seen people cursing the government and the authorities for every hardship they face? How many times have we seen the common man blame the officials and the bureaucrats for the ill-maintained roads, the uncovered potholes, the badly managed rail or bus services, the shoddily-run government schools, the poorly administered hospitals, the insecurity encountered by women and senior citizens and nearly all the problems that confront him?
We see it all the time; people complaining about the inability of the governing authorities to provide us with the basic amenities of life in a suitable and respectable manner. Every morning as soon as the newspaper boy drops our set at the doorstep and we welcome the day with the headlines of the crisp newspaper, we embark upon another round of our daily dose of criticizing and commenting upon the way our country is functioning. And when on most days the newspaper is flooded with not-so-delightful occurrences, the newspaper reading activity transforms into an arena for voicing our opinion about the current situation prevailing in our country. News channels, journals and magazines are other inflammable means of adding fuel to this amusing fire.
“Amusing”, now what can be so amusing in this noble cause of expressing your concern for your nation? People from all over the country oblige her by sparing a few moments out of their precious time to “discuss” and discover “viable solutions” to the several problems ailing our nation. Declaring war against the rebellious tribals can help us do away with Naxalism. Caste-based census will only intensify the various divisions prevalent in the society; the government should not resort to it. Kasab should be hanged immediately, possible or not; tomorrow!! The Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) system is the only way out to rescue our stagnating school education scenario, implement it right away. You get the point; we have easy and simple solutions for everything. If we can so easily “think” of such pragmatic solutions, why is the administration so sluggish in “implementing” them??
And I like an indifferent, adolescent dare to term this “reform movement” as amusing? For if it is not amusing, what else do I term this wave of frustration among the people as? These self-proclaimed concerned citizens of the nation have all the time in the world to condemn the authorities for their shortcomings. But has anyone of us ever dared to rise above this ineffectual pursuit of reproaching others and take an initiative ourselves to change this scenario? We hardly miss an opportunity in berating the concerned authorities for the dirty roads, footpaths, railway tracks and platforms or the unhygienic conditions in the hospitals. But exactly how many of us can refrain ourselves from throwing the peel on the road after savoring the banana or to easily do away with the Lays packet after relishing the potato chips? No brownie points for guessing. It did not take us to spell doom upon the once spick and span Delhi Metro station in a fashion similar to that of the railway stations.
This is not an exaggeration of the current state of affairs. Neither am I trying to make a mockery of the janta of the nation. What I wish to convey is the manner in which we very conveniently forget our duties while blatantly asserting our rights. We are a nation of people who cannot tolerate a miniscule speck of dirt in the drawing room of our house. But that is where our fixation with cleanliness ends. We do not concern ourselves with how our garbage is disposed off much less bother about how we contribute significantly towards dirtying the roads of our city. The desperation of the dustbins is hard to miss and their incessant whimpers of “USE ME” usually go in vain. This is just an illustration to go by. Our wasteful temperament is demonstrated at its best during our big, fat weddings that give us an authorization to throw the most celebrated feast in town thereby wasting a humungous amount of food to the dirty confines of the dustbin. Fortunately, for the citizens of the nation, the fundamental duties are not enforceable in the court of law. Some responsibility that would have been for all of us who have gotten so used to the chalta hai attitude
And as if the sheer ignorance of duties on part of the citizens did not make for a deplorable situation, the opposition parties in our nation provide for an even more unpardonable depiction. The inflation rate escalates and the members of the opposition parties clinch their rightful opportunity to take to the streets in a bandh to assert their right to freedom of speech and expression. One would so wish that they would exercise the pertinent right in the near empty (well, on a lot of days..and am not being cynical) of the Parliament as well. Ideally, the role of an opposition in the Parliament is hugely dynamic. Providing constructive advice to the Government in formulation of policies, indicating the lacunae in the laws framed by the legislature are just some of the functions which an effective opposition ought to play in a democratic setup. However, if statistics are to be believed, the attendance of the Members of Parliament (MPs) seems to have plunged to a new low!! The Lok Sabha met for only 64 days in the year 2009. Seems like the work our politicians do is inversely proportional to the mushrooming challenges facing the democracy every passing moment. Now that doesn’t make for either a pretty picture or a good equation.
While in Class II in my school, my Hindi literature textbook offered the most enlightening and valuable chronicles to read. One such story was of a sparrow that lived with her off springs and conveyed to them the lesson that no one could trample upon their rights till the time they are abiding by their duties. The moment we claim responsibility for our endeavors, the vicious pursuit of passing the buck would come to a halt, saving us a lot of time and effort. Someone seems to have rightfully pointed out that if you are not part of the solution, then you are the problem. Drastic solutions to problems that are inherently deep-seated cannot be instituted within the matter of a few deliberations. The problem seems to lie in the fact that we have persistently and unabashedly ignored our obligations towards the nation. We have been doing so since the last couple of years. I have chanced upon a number of writings on the issue of violation of democratic rights and privileges of people by the police or the administration. However, the consideration of the duties of those very citizens has appeared far less when it comes to literary works. Hypothetical as it may seem, the day we realize our duties to the utmost, the problems ailing our existence would not seem so humungous and impervious!!
The writer is a correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.