“Mera desh mahan nahi hain, par yeah dosh mera hain” (My country is not great, but it is my fault“)
Aamir Khan’s guest Mr. Shailesh Gandhi (Former Central Information Commissioner) nailed it with this statement in Satyamev Jayate show. We, the so-called future of this country, are too eager to find faults and blame others for everything- be it 2G scam, sexual molestation, bad roads or traffic congestions. Somehow, someone else is to be blamed for everything. It does not matter if we drive through a red light, or drive on the wrong side; we only see the traffic jam, and we curse “Ish desh ka kuch nahi ho saktah (Nothing can happen to this country)”. It does not matter if we throw wastes on the roadside, we only see litters, and we curse again, “Ish desh ka kuch nahi ho saktah (Nothing can happen to this country)”. Worse, most of us have visited USA or Europe, and we are aware how citizens are involved in the welfare of their communities and what it is to be a citizen of a developed nation. Yet, when it comes to our own country, we are wise enough not to get into dirty business because “Ish desh ka kuch nahi ho saktah” (Nothing can happen to this country). So why shall we bother?
This is exactly what bunch of those corrupt politicians and government officials want so they can exploit our indifference and ignorance. We think that corruption does not affect us, it affects the poor only, and it makes no sense to care for it. We are more concerned about Ranbir Kapoor’s love life, or MS Dhoni’s sixer. And to be fair, we are busy people, working day and night in front of those computers, and when our tired minds get a chance to think, we would rather think about Salman Khan’s marriage, or Modi–Gandhi war rather than some poor farmer killing his children and committing suicide due to extreme poverty and hunger. It does not matter to us how the corrupt Government systematically led to his suicide. After all, this is Government’s problem, not ours.
It is not that our Government does not care. In fact, I have to say, India has one of the best poverty reduction schemes. Government is investing billions of dollars in these programs. Unfortunately, many times, these schemes do not reach the poor. Recently, I met a poor woman NREGA laborer who was not being paid for the last one year. When asked why she continues working, she replied, with moist eyes, “I trust my Government, it will pay me one day.” In reality, the local official had already taken her share of money. I wonder how these corrupt officials can sleep at nights when they are making money by cheating the poor who have nothing but hopes that one day Government would help them. Corruption in these “billion-dollar” poverty reduction government programs is so deep-rooted and rampant that it is next to impossible for the poor to come out of poverty. If even 10% of what is allotted to the poor reach the poor, I believe, poor people can come out of poverty. Then again, why shall we bother about it when it does not affect us? That is poor man’s problem.
Sadly, the truth is otherwise! If poor people and we were living in two different worlds, then it would not affect us. Truth is we belong to the same ecosystem. Every day, millions and millions of rural poor are entering cities . They live amongst us. Forget us, even the richest man Mukesh Ambani’s world’s most expensive house is next to slums. In other words, they are our neighbors. And let us be clear that poverty and sufferings give birth to crimes. Thus, in some way or the other, we too face the consequences of them being poor and hungry. More important, even if they are not living in our neighborhood, fact is, until and unless they prosper, we cannot prosper either.
Additionally, corruption affects us as well. Would not we want to enjoy good infrastructure in our own cities? Imagine six-lane roads without any traffic jam while going to office, good public transportation, beautiful parks, and roads for pedestrians. We can have it all in India, if we all get involved by tapping Government’s work. We pay tax every day. In fact, we have employed the Government so they do their work. However, because of our indifference towards Government, our money which should be going for the development, instead goes to some politician’s pockets. Worse, when we see the son of a politician in a 7-series BMW, we lightly justify his wealth by stating, “oh woh politician ka beta hain (he is politician’s son ).” Do we even think for a second how can a government servant afford so much money to buy a car wroth more than 1 crore? In one way, we have accepted corruption as part of our system without making an effort to change it. We let these politicians get away with scams after scams (Coalgate scam, Common Wealth Game scam and so on). We are okay giving our hard-earned money to the elected officials, but never ever we think of questioning them every now and then, and make an effort to raise the voice. Of course, we can be cynical about repercussions that we might face when we raise our voice, and we can choose to keep silent. Then, I wonder, what rights do we have to say “ish desh ka kuch nahi ho saktah” when we ourselves have not made an effort to make the system better and we have accepted to be exploited?
With these questions in mind, I urge all of you to watch this special Satyamev Jayate’s fourth episode on corruption to understand how Right to Information is beneficial to all of us and how we urgently need Public Services Grievances Bill and social audits to fight corruption. As Aamir Khan rightly said at the end “eternal vigilance is the price of democracy”, the episode echoes most of our sentiments that it is our fundamental duty to rectify the government when it is at fault. And last but not the least, let us not forget to vote this year!!