Thursday, February 3, 2011

Are you a vigilant citizen?

The news on recent scams and discussions on Indian political framework and Governance brings me to ask, “What can WE do as the citizen of the country?” I am sure all of us have concerns, and wouldn’t miss an opportunity to point fingers at the Government but can we do anything at all beyond this? I am looking forward to a collective discussion that could lead to productive solutions. Yes, my hopes are always high :)

I believe essentially, we are not vigilant citizens; we fail to keep a close watch on Government policies and functionaries. The 2G scam has come into public purview after the PIL (Public Interest Litigation) filed in the court. PIL can be filed by common citizens. How many of us take the head ache to question the Government? I agree, you will be gone missing if you try any such heroic act! Let us remember unity is strength and if we all come together to file a PIL, then we might just be better placed. The bottom line is we should be aware of such laws, and threaten to exercise them that the Government thinks twice before looting. Today, they know we don’t keep a check on them and they prowl freely. RTI is another powerful act that enables the citizen to acquire information; unfortunately citizens excising it have met misfortunes and it is sad that Government has failed to curb such interferences.

Closely linked quotient is awareness. Forget about being vigilant and standing up, mere ‘Knowing’ would help. Majority of the population care a hoot about what is happening in the country. I understand that the less privileged have limited resources to information, but our own well educated citizens in the city aren’t aware of many ongoing implementations, both commendable and questionable.
Much of these issues do not affect the individual directly, even if it does it comes down many years later, may be a reason for negligence from our end. What about those issues that affect our everyday life? Food inflation, rise in petrol, traffic congestion, real estate booms, so on and so forth. We don’t put our foot down and reject anything that is over-priced. For instance, even if we realize the worth of piece of land 25kms away from Chennai is less than what it is being sold at, we still invest. Real estate is not an essential commodity; we can afford to stay united in not purchasing such lands. When the demand decreases, naturally the price would come to what it is worth. Few of us who can afford actually inflate the price benefiting the Land dealers who are in turn in nexus with politicians and bureaucrat sometimes running a probable scam. In many of such similar cases, we are very unmindful of our actions.

Conservation of petrol is the least we can do, in usage of most of the natural resources we should be looking at it from a larger perspective. I can afford to buy petrol even at 100/- per liter does not mean I am privileged to waste the natural resources. None of us have entitlement to natural resources; money has been enabled as an exchange rate to buy these commodities in the modern setup, period. We need to use them wisely. I am not sure if a system exists that enables common citizen to express his ideas/views on larger issue. A mutually engaging system where even citizens are able to voice out a suggestion to combat an existing widespread issue would be interesting. Forums where individuals can contribute on possible alternative traffic flows in a congestion prone area, such collective engagement might turn out to be productive. Don’t you think so? Today, I have suggestion but I do not know where to voice it out. I am aware of some forums and grievance cells, but are they effectively functioning? We need to have such exchange forums and their existence should be made known and more importantly they should function efficiently, now that is asking for lot ;)

I believe each one of us have to accommodate ourselves in this society as we have come to/agreed to live in such a setup abiding by social norms and have a collective consensus. The need of the hour is, each of us has to think, how our actions impact the society. We need to ask ourselves, what can I do for the society and good governance of the Nation, in our own possible simple ways and do it. A mere thought, “How can I?” would by itself go a long way. A constant thought would generate many simple solutions.

I am believer of free thinking and aspire for a system of free thinkers not bound by social norms, but since we are here in a social system, we need to show our concern and be responsible for the Governance that we elect for ourselves.

Remember it is we who devised this system for our own self and it is important we engage in the process of running the Government. Primary responsibility is to vote, but it doesn’t just stop there. We need to be constantly involved and be vigilant.


Anshul Pandey said...

Hi Divya,

This is my first visit to your blog and I found your article quite engaging. However you should consider few points that I have:

- You mentioned RTI act as the vaguard of honesty among the public servants and politicians. However, the government is amending the RTI law to include provisions such as the questioner can ask only one question at a time and the word count of the question should be less than 250 characters. Also, you must have heard instances of government offices charging money from the applicants where the data to be disclosed involves a large amount of printed material. Such obstacles are created (of course by vested interests within the government) to discourage vigilacy among citizens

-The well educated class you talk about is the very class which can be only be categorised under the word 'hypocrite'. The majority of these are the people who write newspaper columns or bond over coffe tables discussing fancy matters regarding all things eye catching but fail to do their basic duty as citizens of India by not even voting. What is even more, these citizens consider income tax evasion their birth right.

-Over the issue of over-pricing i would like to state that India has always been a nation where vegetables are sold out in the open and shoes are sold in the showrooms. No wonder 'the educated class' prefers a showroom over a vegetable market. Ironically, the previous remark is being again literally distorted now-a-days with showrooms offering, to take a specific example, a single cup of coffee for a killing (costa coffee, cafe coffee day).

-The recent example of Manmad additional collector Yashwant Sonawane being burnt to death for checking petrol adulteration which contribute significantly tothe rise of petrol prices serves as an adequate resonse to your point highlightng wastage of natural resources.

-As an ending note, I would like to suggest that there is a reason to why India is called the land of opportunists. The country is governed by a system which allows the progress of one individual at the cost of other. This is the primary reason that while our country is home to one of many of the richest persons in the world, it is also a land of 450 crore poor living below the poverty line. no wonder, there is a mad scramble to reach at the top. Your ethic of "How can I" just doesn't work here. Period.

I hope this rests the case from my side.


Divya said...

Hi Anshul,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I completely agree on your view points, there are many aspects to the current state of India, so much that we do not know where to start :)

Before your abandon the thought 'How can i?", i would only request you to do whatever you can in your own ways..It does not matter if we can't make a change, as along as one's inner conscience is right! Your thought has a mass and it will definitely spread the positive vibrations :)