Wednesday, August 24, 2011

An open letter to the Common Man

You, the nation seem to be up in arms. And theoretically, the cause is great. Corruption is what can gnaw a society from within and make it hollow. Bit by bit, it can tear away at the moral fibre of our culture. Yet, would you, just for a moment hit the pause button and step back? Do you know what you are supporting? Is Anna a symbol of relief from the general frustration that you have from the system? And more importantly, is your frustration more to do with the ‘developing’ part of our nation than the Jan Lokpal Bill (how many of you have read it??).

As a citizen, I want to protest too.

  • I want to protest against long queues at public offices like the Passport department (which I realised is free of corruption but lacking in processes and discipline).
  • I want to protest against the thousands of SMSs and calls I get from marketers having already put my name on the Do Not Call list. But that again is a process flaw and lack of checking mechanisms.
  • I want to protest against the feeling of dread I feel when I enter a police station. Not because I have to pay them money (though corruption is rampant here and directly affecting you and me and I wish the Lokpal would take up this dept instead of the politicians) but because I feel unsafe. Which is ironical.
  • I want to protest against general hygiene standards in my country (or the lack of them). Why do you, my fellow common man seek a dustbin on your trips abroad and feel free to spit on my car in India? It is not because someone is paying you to do that, but rather because no one will fine you if you do.
  • I want to protest against bustling crowds in public transport and men staring at me like I am a public exhibit. But these are mere effects of having a population as large as ours and lack of support from you, my fellow common man who doesn’t stop the guy next to you from staring at me. 

The sentiment in your hearts is pure. But is the cause all encompassing? Political corruption is of very very little relevance to me in light of all the above. It is important, no doubt. But far less important than getting some order in the chaos of a country I love very much. Do not think for a moment that corruption does not exist in western countries. It does and at a much higher level than these penny foolish ones. Here is an interesting read about Corruption in the USA and how it affects the common man.

What I need is a couple of strong administrators who can ensure that public systems work well and efficiently. And I do not think changing the government is the answer to any given problem (do you really think the others are better administrators or lesser corrupt)? Empowering able statesmen to lead us is what our democratic system does. Let them lead us. Do a course correction for them if you feel they have strayed, but do not think that you sitting in your house can run the country better than the economists and highly capable people that you have elected.

Marching and fasting are both good for your health. Do carry on if you please. But on the side, next time you board a train with an unreserved ticket, do not try to bribe the TT to get his berth. When you jump a traffic signal, kindly do not wave a Rs.100 note at the policeman. Don’t use your ‘jugaad’ to get free tickets to the Formula 1 races coming to India and for the love of god, please do not slip a note to someone the next time you want to cut a queue. The next time you want to stop corruption, stop yourself first.


Peenuts said...

Very well said. As i said somewhere sometime - When u support Anna Hazare dont just demand a change, be the change too.

Harnoor Channi-Tiwary said...

Absolutely agree with you.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting points. Thanks!

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