Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A hot plate, or a Corruption free India. You choose.

When I was growing up, I was taught a million reasons to be proud of the nation I belong to, the soil we played cricket on, the waters that wash all your sins, and the air we proudly inhaled. Well, I was a student, blindly trusting the books, and the teachers. What do you know?

Then came the time for the kins of me to assimilate into the society and carry the great nation forward. Guess what: there was not one, not two, but dozen of shockers that took us by surprise. There was the soil we worshiped, but it was dry, because there was no rain as there were no trees around. There were the waters we touched our foreheads with, but it was so dirty you could farm virus and bacteria in it for teaching - let alone washing you of your sins. There was the air we proudly took in every independence day - but it was so polluted it would send you to an asthma clinic before you could praise the flag.

And now to the root of it all: half a century long governance that promised millions they will be fed, taken care of, given better life. When in fact that gave rise to evil self serving practices with a perpetual dream of heavens to entice the unfortunate voters.

Is that really what a Democracy is? It is Government 'of the people, by the people, and for the people'. When, along the path to glory, did we change the meaning from 'enable the people, strengthen the people, empower the people' to 'paralyze the people, barely feed the people, hope for the people'?

Corruption is a very vague term. Granted: in any form of governance, there will be a class of people that will find ways to fulfill self interests at the same time making policies that 'enable' the masses. But what I have seen growing up, is not an infrequent display of dishonesty. I have seen men and families and women struggling to survive, because they don't have enough resources to sustain a basic humane life, let alone growth. Time and again I (and people of my generation) have had long debates about what can we do to fix all this. Can a simple voter's mandate change the system? What happens when all your choices are corrupt? Whom do you choose? Do you boycott the election process? Then there is re-election. And elections in a 1 billion strong democracy are costly to say the least. Or do you fight to become a policy maker yourself? It doesn't quite work unless you have never ending resources, are born in a rich/influential family or you comply with the 'system' s rules and regulations.

You may argue that a huge population has so much to do with it. I agree. I do not know how it came to where it is today. To take an easy way out, surely we can blame the 'invaders' and 'rulers' who did not take good care of our forefathers, did not teach them good family planning practices, did not grow them enough to make good citizens. But I do not want to go there. There are a 1000 ways to solve a problem. And 999 of them involve complaining and whining.

So why does the common folk not do anything? Our culture is known for extremely strong family ties. But why does it stop right there? What of the society we live in? What of the flag that flares on our school buildings? Where did we lose the sense of identity, of belonging to a nation? Why do families enforce 'make your life, yeh to chalta rahega' (take care of yourself first, the system will not change for you)?

One would think that we are that way (hum to aise hi hain). Timid. Self conscious. Complex with inferiority. I still remember a popular video on Facebook that titled (hum Indians bhi nah..). More than I felt proud about it, it annoyed me. Why has it become a practice to compromise, to settles for less/whats available, to just say 'hum to aise hi hain' or 'chalta hai' when things aren't favorable. Why? What is it that we are missing? A common drive?

But then I look at how a simple sporting even united the entire nation recently: of all classes, colors, religions, origins. And I would say "REALLY?" Where did THAT drive come from? You wanted your nation to do good, and excel, but ONLY in a SPORT? What about real life? Is it enough just to live a dream for a day, or a week, say that we are proud that we are the champions, and carry on with the mundane ways of life the next week, as if nothing happened, saying "chalta hai yaar. hum aise hi hai"? Why?

Honestly, I did not have answers to any of the questions I am raising, until today. I found out about the "India Against Corruption" movement, that grew almost 2 fold over night. And that was my answer. We CAN unite, for just a little bit more than a sporting cause - to cleanse a system that our kids will feel proud of - not just on Aug 15 or Jan 26, but every day, every minute that they live in it. Just like we are proud of our own achievements in life, lets achieve something for the nation we were born to. Regardless of what our nation gave to us, let's see what we can give to our nation.

If despite of all the corruption and struggle we can be the second fastest growing economy in the world, bring up boys from ticket collection to winning the World Cup, build corporations that own the balls of the likes of Jaguar, be leading researchers in world class institutions, THINK ABOUT WHAT WE CAN DO IF WE HAD FAIR RESOURCES!

I will not blabber anymore. I just urge you to read about the cause here (, and if it makes sense to you, support it, even if it is in small ways, by talking about it in social media, or joining the fast on site in India, or skipping meals if you are not in India.

I am skipping a meal today. And not just to feel good about it (heck yes it feels good too:-), but also to connect my ego back to where it is aligned with millions others like me - to create a social push.

Will you?

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