Monday, September 22, 2008

Livin on a prayer

Living on a Prayer

RePosted from at the “official” blog of Raghu!
 “We’ve got to hold on ready or not
You live for the fight when it’s all that you’ve got.”
These lines from a cult Bon Jovi song have never been truer. The times we live in have become more unpredictable than ever before. All of a sudden, the variables in my life seem to have multiplied a hundred times over. Suddenly tomorrow looks so far away.
Anything can happen, anytime, anywhere.
The recent floods in Bihar have displaced more than 30 lakh individuals. Entire households have been washed away. Countless dead. And many more not traceable. These are just official figures, and common sense tells me these numbers are only a fraction of the actual numbers. Rescue missions are underway. Floods bring in devastation in their wake, but the damage continues even after the floods are over. Epidemics, food shortage, riots, housing problems surface their ugly heads. And let us face it; our government is ill equipped to handle this situation. As always we are in a reactive mode as opposed to being preventive. Needless to say, the people of Bihar will flock to state capitals for survival. What will this lead to? Extra burden on an already over burdened civil structure. Not that I blame the poor people for clogging up the cities. It will be years before the affected people of Bihar will be able to sleep peacefully, much longer to regain normalcy of their lives.
The earthquake in China saw the efficient Chinese machinery step into action in a matter of seconds. Trying to save as many lives as possible and as soon as possible. The Chinese Premier was at the location of the maximum damage in a matter of a couple hours. Relief operation went on till the last living person was rescued. The whole rescue mission gave an impression of a machinery well oiled, maintained and kept ready for any disaster- planned or unplanned. Where were our leaders when Bihar was crying for help? How much of the promised help has actually reached the needy? The army had to step in and take co-ordinate the rescue efforts. Who is manning the borders meanwhile? Why a disaster management plan wasn’t kept ready ‘just in case”?
Operation BAD successfully, yet again, showed us the lacunae of our so called Intelligence agencies. Again, reactive and not preventive. Does one really believe that it is impossible to monitor nefarious activities across the country? Do these so called Jihadis work alone without any support structure? This is totally cannot accept. The Mumbai blasts of 1993 clearly showed us how insider support is necessary for something like this to happen. Now every time I look at a gathering, the first fear that creeps into my mind is the number of casualties should a bomb go off there? Paranoia has settled in me somewhere I don’t know, someplace I can’t reach. I think twice before going to any mall, theatres, or public gatherings. If this is what the terrorists want, then, as far as I am concerned, I think they succeeded in scaring me. But I know, this fear will soon wear off, and I cannot stay cooped up inside the four walls of my home or office. People of Mumbai, and now Bangalore and Delhi, they say are resilient to anything. This is not natural resilience but a forced resilience, because people don’t have a choice. The choice they have, that of voting, is not exercised to bring about the desired effect. Families have to be fed, EMIs have to be paid, School fees have to be paid and life has to be led.
Can we go one living like this? Will my kids accept this way of life as a norm? What can I do so that this ‘expect anything anywhere anytime” phenomena doesn’t get hardwired into the next generation? I will have to make a sea change somewhere.
The first thing that I should have started doing long ago was place the burden of accountability on those who chose to lead me. Start with the local MLA. Find out his plans in case any such eventualities were to befall my area. If 10 people like me, were to ask such questions, then some amount of accountability, albeit however little would be placed on the local governing body. But here is where the problem lies. In all probability I won’t be given a hearing, because the local MLA is busy with something more important than his constituency. His supporters would try and deter me from asking questions to the apparent boss. This is hurdle number one. Next, comes the transparency of operation. Is the reserved amount being spent for the right task, or are some other coffers being filled? We don’t have to look far to see this phenomena? Mumbai gets flooded every year, year on year, in spite of the BMC having sufficient funds to make sure that the civic infrastructure is in place before the rains. Another prime example of the mismanagement of funds is evident in the road conditions of our cities. Look at the roads in Bangalore or Pune or any city of your choice. Does one actually believe that the road tax charged to us is being spent correctly? Or being spent at all? Look at the number of petitions being signed for better roads to get a better idea. This is just one example of the glaring inefficiency of our civic bodies. Who is questioning them? No one? Right.
Now compare the same road condition to a small country like Singapore? Why can’t we have such roads? Don’t we have the budget? Don’t we have the right engineers? Or the right technology? We have all of it, but we don’t have the burden of accountability.
The second thing that needs to be done is to “GET INVOLVED”. And by that I don’t just mean, pay your taxes regularly, file your returns on time, etc. What I mean is get on the floor. Make it a point to ensure that your part of the city or street or bylane is maintained. That will be more than enough for a start. Again, accountability comes into the picture here. Additionally, let’s all of us try and don the Sherlock Holmes cap once in a while. Keep a tab on the neighborhood and make sure no more Afzal Gurus hang out in my area.
The third and the most important part, let us not always be dependent on the civil servants to manage the city. In the absence of working traffic signals, a normal citizen can guide the traffic using nothing more than the will to do so, and some common sense. Why do we have to wait for the traffic constable to come and guide us. This is not some rocket science! We can take the initiative to maintain our lanes, streets and roads. Most of us keep our houses clean, while not paying a second thought while littering outside. Why this mentality? The streets belong to us, as much as to the government. Let us do our bit.
So while my frustration at being at the helpless end is still not over, I have managed to set up some action items for myself. Now, I can only hope that I have the strength, which I think I have, to carry on my resolve.
Let us resolve not to Live only on a Prayer. this article was not written by me. It is seen at it’s a terrific blog for thought provoking articles about the very essence of nation building! I would recommend u subscribe to the blog there.


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